Court halts OSP’s arrest of Charles Bissue
A High Court in Accra has ordered the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) not to proceed to execute an arrest warrant against former Presidential staffer, Charles Bissue, in the next 10 days.
Apart from the execution of the arrest warrant, the court further restrained the OSP from applying for a further arrest warrant or publishing notices declaring Mr Bissue as wanted within the 10-day period that the interim injunction would be in force.
In a ruling yesterday, the court, presided over by Justice Nicholas Abodakpi, held that the interim injunction affected not only the OSP but its assigns, agents or anyone acting on behalf of the OSP.
The interim injunction by the court followed an ex-parte application by lawyers of Mr Bissue, who have filed a suit challenging the legality of the OSP’s investigations against him over alleged corruption during his tenure as the Secretary of the defunct Inter Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM).
However, in a reaction, the OSP has issued a public notice indicating that per law, it had the full powers of the police and, therefore, it was not obliged to seek an arrest warrant from court before effecting an arrest of a suspect.
“The general public is advised that in exercise of its police power, the Office of the Special Prosecutor can arrest without warrant, any person it reasonably suspects of having committed corruption or corruption-related offences,” the notice said.
The OSP, in December last year, announced that it had launched widespread investigations into alleged corruption and corruption-related activities relating to the illegal mining menace
According to the OSP, the investigations would affect activities of the IMCIM and its officials, including Mr Bissue, indigenous mining firm, Akonta Mining Limited, some officials of the Lands Commission, Forestry Commission, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, some mining entities and other individuals, and political party officials.
A statement signed by the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, and issued in Accra on December 10 last year, said Mr Bissue was already being investigated on allegations that he used his office for private gain.
“The investigation includes the active and ongoing enquiry into allegations of use of public office for profit against Charles Bissue during his tenure as Secretary to the IMCIM, arising from an investigative documentary titled ‘Galamsey Fraud Part I', published by Tiger Eye PI,” the statement said.
On January 4 this year, Mr Bissue filed a writ at the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court seeking to stop the OSP from investigating him, with a case that the Ghana Police Service had already investigated and exonerated him of any wrongdoing relating to alleged corruption in illegal mining.
It is, therefore, his case that the OSP did not have the powers to review the investigations of the police or investigate him when the police had already investigated and found no adverse findings against him.
The plaintiff is seeking a declaration from the court that upon a true interpretation of the OSP Act, 2017 (Act 959), the OSP does not have the power to review an investigation done by the police.
Again, he is seeking a declaration that the powers granted the OSP under Act 959 does not allow the anti-graft body to investigate and prosecute him when the subject matter had already been investigated by the police.
The plaintiff is further seeking an order perpetually restraining the OSP from investigating him about the same issue investigated by the police, unless the police refers the matter to the OSP.
In February 2019, a documentary produced by a private investigator, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, and his Tiger Eye team, featured Mr Bissue allegedly taking money to help an unlicensed company to circumvent laid down processes to be given clearance for its mining operations.
The documentary alleged that the secretary was involved in alleged shady deals to facilitate processes for ORR Resource Enterprise.
However, in July 2019, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service exonerated Mr Bissue from any wrongdoing or allegation of corruption.
The CID concluded that the documentary which was aired was not a true reflection of what transpired between Bissue and one Yaw Ben of ORR Resource Enterprise.
“The CID investigations primarily relied on the documentary and other sources, as already indicated, but the lead investigator of the Tiger Eye documentary, Mr Anas Aremeyaw Anas, failed to avail himself to assist in investigations and also failed to provide a copy of the unedited version of the documentary,” the CID report said.