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Opinions of Monday, 12 November 2007

Columnist: Anipa, Marlon

Attorney General and the Docket: Let's gets real

I have been following the inferences and hasty conclusions coming from certain persons and quarters such as NDC Virginia Chapter (which I understand has a membership of 5) calling for the resignation of the Attorney-General, Hon. Joe Ghartey. These calls are unfortunately gradually and rather insipidly gaining currency in the media and on the web.

The barrage of criticism of the Attorney –General started after he admitted, before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC), that his office were in possession of files from the BNI – despite his earlier denial of the same.

In my view, the Attorney-General must be commended for his role in this matter. His personal role in the issue has been honourable and exemplary as he, on his own volition, attended the PAC hearing to set the records straight. He also went further to apologise for the error. Something which I cannot remember any P/NDC cabinet Minister ever doing for the 20 years or so of that regime.

Furthermore the Attorney-General explained the circumstances and the basis of his earlier assertion by giving very cogent and coherent reasons. I do not imagine that these persons calling for his head believe the Attorney- General actually keeps files in his office and should therefore be held directly responsible for the error. As the Head of Department the buck stops with him and he may therefore have vicarious liability for any acts of omission or commission in his outfit. However, can we by any stretch of the imagination, contemplate that this issue warrants calls for his resignation? How any one can come to that conclusion beggars belief.

Again, what I find curious is that though the office of the Attorney-General has actually dealt with the matter and sent back the files to the BNI office, these persons are nonetheless shamelessly or ignorantly (or both) computing the time lapse as from the time the case was first sent to the Office of the Attorney-General. They are therefore spuriously suggesting that the Attorney-General’s office has been protracting this matter for over 13 months etc.

It was clear from the evidence to the PAC that the Attorney-General’s outfit dealt with the matter and referred the case back to the BNI. The matter was then re-referred to the AG’s office and therefore it is only this time frame, from the period that that the file was sent back to the office of the Attorney-General, that should be subject to any discussion.

It is mischievous to present this issue which some have labeled as ‘docketgate’ as though the Attorney-General’s Dept has done nothing at all about the case since its inception and willfully and deliberately sat on the files in order to pervert the course of justice.

It appears to me that the office of the Attorney-General does not want to split hairs and therefore conceded that it was their error. That is a good show of leadership. Such show of leadership and good management practice could be nothing else but commendable if seen objectively.

I was stunned by the article by one Professor Lungu of Tokyo, Japan. This Prof was very critical, of Hon Joe Ghartey for not curtailing mob violence. Well, I have some pointers for Prof Lungu. The Attorney-General’s office is in charge of prosecution not investigation. Again, can he point out any specific case of mob violence currently stuck in the Attorney-General’s office?

We all have some duty in rooting out mob violence on the streets of Ghana. The Attorney-General’s outfit is doing its best in bringing any culprits to book by prosecuting any perpetrators. Ghanaians must do more in dealing with mob violence which thankfully is on the decrease.

Touching on the number of people in prison awaiting trial, I can reassure Prof Lungu that I am especially pleased with the ‘Justice for All’ programme which was initiated by the present Attorney-General. Under this programme courts actually sit in prison to deal with all remand cases. The sole aim of the programme is to expedite action on all remand and pending cases.

Again, it is heart warming to know that the office of the Attorney-General is acting on a number of cases including those resulting directly from the Auditor-General’s report. There are currently over 61 people in court following the Auditor-General’s report. In fact, even this so called ‘docketgate ‘case is in court at the moment.

We must note that Mrs Konadu Agyeman Rawlings is being prosecuted in court on the basis of the Auditor-General’s report. Hon Alban Badgin has been cited in the Auditor-General’s report for the misuse of GHAPOHA resources. I wonder why no one from the 5-member NDC group is not calling for his prosecution.

The reality is that the office of the Attorney-General has taken on the drug barons and prosecuted politicians and some people don’t like it. These corrupt officials are ganging up to discredit the hardworking Hon Joe Ghartey and just waiting for any innocuous slip and then descending on his outfit, and the Attorney-General in particular, like a ton of bricks. They are looking hard for their pound of flesh. These articles, being orchestrated and manipulated from corrupt officials, people of opposing political persuasions and friends of drug barons are disingenuous and they must be seen for what they really are.

The Attorney-General must not be deterred by these irritating distractions and I will urge him to continue with his relentless pursuit in smoking out corrupt officials and politicians whether they are of the NPP or any other political persuasion. No one, absolutely no one, must be shielded in our quest to have good governance and enact far reaching systemic changes as we rebuild our country.

I will end by calling on the Attorney-General to go back as far as 1992 and dig up all the Auditor-General’s reports and prosecute all officials indicted in the various reports. I will especially urge him to start with the current report and work backwards. We as Ghanaians must see this as a priority and ensure that the office of the Attorney-General is well resourced to meet the challenges ahead.

Marlon Anipa London
7th November 2007

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