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Feature Article of Thursday, 31 May 2012

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Martin Amidu and the official oaths of office and secrecy

: The cost of loose talk

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Martin Amidu’s public statements of late betray him as a bitter and frustrated politician. His effusions suggest nothing but a revenge mission spurred on by many factors, the most prominent of which is his dismissal from office as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. He comes across as the government functionary with the most short-lived service at that Ministry.

His removal from office might be caused by his own miscalculation or an orchestrated measure by the Presidency to get rid of him before he could cause any further embarrassment. Through his unguarded but strident pronouncements, Martin Amidu had rendered himself vulnerable and suffered the consequences of shooting his mouth in a matter that had shaken the government and threatened its credibility.

I am talking about the Woyome scandal and how Martin Amidu positioned himself to pursue matters without due regard for other possibilities than what he had devised. In effect, he is wounded and seeks to pay back those who had inflicted that harm on him. He feels threatened in many ways—losing his position in government and being exposed to public ridicule (as he alleges in his condemnation of the activities of what he calls the “NDC’s rented press”). Apparently, his political has taken a nose-dive for the worse.

Thus, he is posed to release anything up his sleeves. His choice of revenge, however, opens him to more harm and could land him where he might never have dreamt of being. I have in mind his breach of the oaths of office and secrecy. In fact, there is the possibility of action being taken against him for violating those oaths and breaching the State Secrets Act (Act 101) that enjoins every sensitive office holder like him who is privy to “state secrets” not to divulge anything to those who needn’t know. I am particularly concerned that Amidu is letting his tongue loose and revealing what the oaths he had taken before assuming responsibility for the Ministry of Justice and as a Cabinet Member forbid. I have read the public statements that he has released so far and can conclude that he is over-stepping bounds and pushing himself too far down the slope.

Let’s take, for instance, his statement entitled “Unconstitutional Action Of The President,” in which he disclosed the correspondence that he had sent (while in office at the Ministry of Justice) to the Minister of the Interior, part of which read: “…It is in this connection that I feel compelled to repeat an advice I gave to the Attorney-General (when he was the Minister of the Interior) in the concluding paragraph of my letter No. D. 19/SF.9 dated 8th March 2011 entitled “RECALL FROM INTERDICTION.”

Then, he came out today with another batch of references from official correspondence, creating the impression that he still has in his custody the official documents that came into his custody and can use them for any purpose that pleases him. That’s a dangerous course to take. Official documents and theit contents are not to be dangled about this way. In today’s references, for instance, he quotes copiously from a correspondence he had sent to the Ministry of Finance and copied to the Chief of Staff and the National Security Co-ordinator, as is evident here:

• “Consequently, in a preliminary ten page report to the President in my letter D45/SF.173/10 dated 6th January 2012 I stated professionally what I had discovered, including the names of each person I suspected to be implicated in the case. The letter was copied to the Chief of Staff and the National Security Co-ordinator.”

• “I addressed one particular letter to His Excellency, Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings, President of the Republicof Ghana, and copied it only to the late Rt. Rev. Bishop Lucas Abadamloora, Bishop of Navrongo/Bolgatanga Dioceses on 3rd June 1999 on the subject matter: “THE STATE OF THE JUDICIARY, JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS AND RELATED NATIONAL ISSUES.”

This recourse to official correspondence raises serious questions:

• Is Amidu still in possession of official documents that should have been left on files when he was removed from office?

• How could he quote from these letters if they were restricted to files at the Ministry and not now available to him? Does it mean that he has personal copies of all the official documents that passed through his hands or that he originated? If he does, what for?

I have asked these questions because of the implications of Amidu’s recourse to quoting from these official documents to support his rabble-rousing anti-Mills vituperations. It is common knowledge that all official documents should be secured and made available to only those who need to know their contents. If Amidu still has such documents in his custody and can use them for purposes that infringe the oaths of office and secrecy that he took, he must be brought to book. I am dead serious about this suggestion because it is mandatory for all government functionaries (indeed all those with access to official documents) to leave them behind when leaving the employment. No one is permitted to carry away official documents (original or duplicate copies) as if they are his/her personal possessions to be used anyhow as Amidu is doing.

I am completely alarmed at what is happening. Who knows what secret Amidu has released to unauthorized sources on the quiet? His conduct is reprehensible and must be treated as such.

Indeed, no matter how bitter, frustrated, or vengeful he may be, he has no right to resort to using official correspondence for his purposes. At this point, the impression he has created is that he is on a collision course with President Mills whom he has threatened to “expose” if provoked, which leaves a sour taste in the mouth. What is it that Amidu knows about President Mills to damage his reputation and scuttle his bid for re-election if released for public consumption? I challenge him to do so immediately for us all to know what he knows. Otherwise, he comes across as overly embittered and looking for dung where no cattle grazed.

In the end, he is painting a very bad picture of himself as someone to be dreaded, not because he has anything to destroy anybody’s political career but because his appointment into such a high office has turned out to arm him with official state secrets that he is leaking for mere vengeance.

Yet, had Fate smiled on him at the 2000 elections when he was President Mills’ Running Mate, he would have become the country’s Vice President to come into contact with more intricate state secrets. Is this the sort of person to appoint to any high office?

Characters like him should not be allowed to have access to state secrets. His claims to have communicated information to his South African friend living in the United States tells me that he is a threat to national security and must be taken to task. He is nobody’s hero in this case but a danger to national security. He is a perfect example of the danger that a failed politician poses.

• E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

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