The man Martin Amidu

Author: Mabel Aku Banaseh

He is a man of few spoken words but can write pages when an issue of national concern crops up. It is a regular feature for selected journalists to find his emails on topical issues as early as 2 a.m.

He fears no one and says it as it is. He did not spare his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), when issues of corruption came up when the party was in government.


The man is Martin Alamisi Benz-Kaiser Amidu, the newly appointed Special Prosecutor and former Attorney-General of the Republic of Ghana. Popularly known as Citizen Vigilante, Mr Amidu will assume the role of prosecuting high-profile corruption cases.

He led a crusade against a known financier of the NDC, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, and succeeded in securing a judgement against the businessman to refund the GH¢51.2 million judgement debt paid to him after first introducing the word “gargantuan corruption” in Ghana’s political landscape.

 The Special Prosecutor is not subject to control from any quarter. Mr Amidu has shown that he cannot be controlled by the political class, a trait that made him fall out with the NDC.

Therefore, the new role he is assuming fits his independent personality.

Indeed, his bluntness on issues resulted in him writing a paper on September 6, 2017 critiquing the processes leading up to the laying of the Special Prosecutor’s Bill in Parliament and its withdrawal for public consultations and input.

He stated in that paper: “In spite of my preference for the strengthening of the traditional, common law and conventional independence of the Attorney-General or the Director of Public Prosecutions under our Anglo-Americo-Ghanaian system of jurisprudence, the paper asserts my conclusions as a patriot that the establishment of a permanent Office of the Special Prosecutor is legal and doable under Article 88 of the 1992 Constitution, so long as it is done under the authority of the Attorney General.

 “Drawing from the American experience, it is argued that a Special Prosecutor can be independent and still work under the authority of the Attorney-General.

“My personal belief in the feasibility of establishing a permanent Office of the Special Prosecutor to deal specifically with corruption and related offences by law is premised on the exemplary moral compass and integrity of the Executive Authority personified by the elected President and his determination to give law enforcement authorities, including the Attorney- General, the expected constitutional support to operate strictly in accordance with their oaths of office to be fair, transparent and impartial in the execution of their duties without fear or favour, affection or ill will,” he noted in his critique.

The man Martin Amidu

Social media was lit with comments about the appointment. While some have welcomed the news of his appointment by the President as a good omen against corruption in Ghana, others have expressed reservations. Some have labelled Mr Amidu “politically incorrect”, with the reason that he can be “loose cannon when he falls out with the government”.

Majority of well-meaning Ghanaians have, however, welcomed his appointment. They hope his appointment will mark the turnaround in the fight against corruption in the country.

 Education

Mr Amidu did not attend privileged schools at the basic level. He is reported to have hated school as a child, just like many other children. He, however, developed extreme love for books while climbing the educational ladder.

The Special Prosecutor gained admission to a private educational institution in Tamale after his elementary education. He rose through the academic ranks and was eventually called to the Bar more than three decades ago.

Mr Amidu graduated from the University of Ghana in 1976 with an LLB (Hons) and the Ghana School of Law in 1978 with a Barrister at Law (BL) degree.

He also holds a Master of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution from the Antioch University, Ohio, USA.

Political career

Mr Amidu, a member of then June 4 Movement, joined the NDC in 1992.

He was the party's running mate in the December 2000 presidential election which the NDC’s presidential candidate, the late Professor J.E.A. Mills, lost to the New Patriotic Party's (NPP's) John Agyekum Kufuor.

Mr Amidu is popularly known as “Shadow Vice-President” after he had declared himself as such, irrespective of the NDC’s loss of the election of 2000.

He has served successive NDC governments variously as Presidential Advisor on Legal Affairs, Minister of the Interior, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Deputy Secretary of State for Industry, Science and Technology, Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government and Rural Development and Deputy Secretary of State for the Upper East Region.

He has also been in private legal practice as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Ghana and also a private, professional conflict resolution consultant.

Publications

Mr Amidu has authored at least six outstanding legal publications, ranging from the power of a court to convict an accused person for a lesser or included offence other than charged, through the qualification and the constitutional position of the Attorney-General, to the scope and effect of judicial power in the enforcement and defence of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.