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Appoint someone with pedigree as Special Prosecutor —Minority Leader

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
Mr Haruna Iddrisu
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, has urged the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to appoint someone with the pedigree and political will to the position of Special Prosecutor (SP).

Such an appointee, he said, must also be given free political space and adequate resources to investigate alleged and suspected corruption.

Contributing to a debate on the approval of annual budget estimates of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) for the 2021 financial year, Mr Iddrisu said the enactment of legislation alone to combat corruption was inadequate, hence the need for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor who had the “pedigree and political will” to prosecute corrupt officials.

Budget approval

The House later approved GH¢124 million for the activities of the Office of the SP.

Mr Iddrisu said the office of SP was allocated GH₵188 million in 2020 but the budget was revised to GH¢138 million.

He said the actual amount that was released to the OSP was just GH₵40 million, which demonstrated lack of commitment to mobilise adequate resources for the OSP to work with anti-corruption institutions to combat economic crime, graft, nepotism and conflicts of interest.

He told the House that Ghanaians doubted and still doubted the standing of the former SP, Mr Martin Amidu, as a person of integrity and who was committed to saving the public purse.

He, therefore, advised the President to appoint somebody with integrity, pedigree and political will to the high office of the SP.

Political will

He said when Parliament passed the Special Prosecutor Act, there were many who said the passage of the Act was a panacea to the solution of fighting corruption.

“We were told that the fight against corruption would be successful with the Office of the Special Prosecutor and with the appointment of Martin Amidu as the Special Prosecutor,” he said.

According to him, the Constitution established the office of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), which was a constitutional creation under Article 216.

He also said Article 218 (b) required that all alleged and suspected corruption and misappropriation of public money by public officials be investigated and the appropriate steps to be taken, including reports on such investigation to the Auditor-General and the Attorney-General.

According to him, the nature of corruption made it very difficult to fight the canker because both the giver of the bribe and the receiver benefited from such criminal activity.

Background

Ghana’s first Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, was sworn into office by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on February 23, 2018, after he had been duly vetted and approved by Parliament.

It followed the passage of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) Act, 2017 (Act 959), which gave the OSP investigative and prosecutorial powers to fight, prevent and prosecute acts of corruption and corruption-related offences.

Per Act 959, the SP is supposed to hold office for a seven-year non-renewable term.

Amidu’s appointment was heralded as a major boost in the fight against corruption.

Mr Amidu surprisingly resigned on November 16, 2020, three years after he was appointed by President Akufo-Addo.