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General News of Thursday, 22 December 2016

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Batidam punches holes in NPP’s proposed independent prosecutor’s office

Chairperson of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, Daniel Batidam, says plans by the incoming government to establish an Independent Prosecutor’s office may clash with the Constitution.

Mr Batidam, who is President John Mahama’s advisor on corruption and governance says the proposal by president-elect Nana Akufo-Addo could face implementation challenges and instead work against the fight against corruption.

“Before anybody thinks of creating another office they must bear in mind that the Constitution has prescribed who has the authority to do criminal prosecutions – and that is the Attorney-General,” he said on current affairs programme, PM Express on Wednesday.

The president-elect has as part of his incoming government’s crusade against institutional corruption, he will establish the independent prosecutor’s office to deal with the problem in his administration.

Nana Akufo-Addo explains the initiative is key to removing political influence in the fight against the increasing cases of institutional corruption plagues Ghana's public offices.

He told the BBC the independent prosecutor would be better placed to avoid politically-motivated criminal prosecution of members of the previous governments.

However, Daniel Batidam thinks establishing the new office would prove an administrative superfluity.

“Article 88 is clear about the powers of the Attorney-General and I am not aware of any other body or person that can exercise those powers without touching the constitution,” he avers.

These powers, he contends, includes initiating criminal prosecution against government officials. He suggests that instead of expending his effort to set up the new office, Nana Akufo-Addo should decouple the Attorney-General’s office from Ministry of Justice. The Attorney-General can the be made independent, because after all "independent is an English word," he said.

The creation of a new office with a fancy name would not guarantee that the fight against corruption would be successful, he suggests.

He backs his point further with the success made by citizen vigilante and
former Attorney-General, Martin Amidu, in single-handedly securing a Supreme Court verdict ordering businessman, Alfred Woyome, to return to the state the GHC51 million judgement debt he unlawfully obtained.

Martin Amidu achieved his feat without being in government, he said, buttressing his point that existing institutions are enough to fight corruption.
“Is the vigilante an office? He is not an office. So I think that the institutions are there,” he stressed.

CHRAJ, which is the key anti-corruption institution, can be empowered and resourced to do its work, he told show host Nana Ansah Kwao IV.

“There a lot of laws that have not yet been activated...If you take the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee..it has made a lot of provisions that relate to laws for fighting corruption, including asset declaration regime to make it tighter,” he defends his position.

The existing law is a “mockery of an asset declaration law," he said.

Mr Batidam also says the incoming administration should work towards managing the expectation of some members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the public who believe persons involved in corruption scandals in the outgoing administration would be jailed when Nana Akufo-Addo takes the reins of government on January 7, 2016.

“Ghana is in a rule of law dispensation,” he said.