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Opinions of Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Columnist: Sulemana Braimah

Letter to Martin A.B.K. Amidu on his latest epistle

Dear Uncle,

I trust you are doing well. I have not had the opportunity to visit you since your appointment. I know I am becoming a prodigal nephew but forgive me.

I am writing to you in connection with your latest article about your work and the frustrations you are going through. I knew from the beginning that it was not going to be easy for you. I know you also knew that too but you were prepared to give it your all in service to God and country and in line with character to see justice done at all time. I know the going is becoming tough but don’t worry. It shall be well.

Uncle, after reading your latest piece, I thought I should write to you to raise some concerns and questions.

In your article you start by stating that: “The biggest challenge facing the Office of the Special Prosecutor as an anti-corruption investigatory and prosecutorial body in spite of all the powers conferred upon it is not the President who promised the people of Ghana to establish the Office but the heads of institutions who simply refuse to comply with laws designed to ensure good governance and to protect the national purse by fighting corruption.”

I agree with you, except that you should have added that the President may not be the biggest problem, but he possesses the biggest solution to the obstacles impeding your efforts. When the President promised the people of Ghana to establish the office, it was not just for the sake of establishing an Office. It was for purposes of curing a problem. At the end of the day, what will matter the most will not be just the establishment of your Office, but whether the objectives for establishing it were met. If the President established the office but cannot get the office to deliver then he has done nothing.

Uncle, I thought refusal to comply with the law constitutes what you lawyers call an illegal act punishable by law. Why are you not applying the law against those heads of institutions who are refusing to comply with the laws instead of complaining about them. In any case, the President, who appointed you, also appointed many of the heads of institutions you are complaining about. If they are undermining the wishes of the President as far as delivery of your office is concerned, why has the president not sanctioned them?

You also wrote, quite curiously, that “heads of institutions wantonly disregard statutory requests made by the Office for information and production of documents to assist in the investigation of corruption and corruption-related offences, in spite of the fact that the President has on a number of occasions admonished them on such misconduct.”

In fact, you reiterate this point by saying in the very last paragraph of your piece that .. “the response by other heads of institutions to the instructions from the Executive Branch appears to have been treated with impunity as far as the records show.”

When I read these lines, I exclaimed, “eiii! These are indirect strong jabs at Oga at the top oo. So Uncle, you mean even the President has not succeeded in getting heads of institutions in our country to comply with his wishes and admonitions on matters relating to the fight against corruption?

Ah, you mean the people appointed by the President to head institutions wantonly disregard statutory requests for information to help investigate corruption and corruption-related offences “in spite of the fact that the President has on a number of occasions admonished them on such misconduct”? And that the response by other heads of institutions to the instructions from the Executive Branch, headed by the President, appears to have been treated with impunity? This is serious ooo.

May be you shouldn’t have said these. Because those who don’t like you can twist those statements to mean a revelation from you that the Old boy does not have control over his appointees or that they don’t respect his instructions. Hmm, but if this is true then it’s serious, Uncle. So who else can get them to obey then? May be as the Akans will say, aye ka. Don’t you think so?

You talk about people accusing you of sleeping on the job. I didn’t know you have time to be following the news to know about these accusations. Well, just up your game!

But Uncle, I must say that I was surprised to read that till date you have only three seconded investigators from the Ghana Police Service with no prosecutor employed directly by your Office. What is going on? But because of this same point, I was struggling to understand why you said the President and Finance Minister have been supportive of your office thus far. If indeed the President and finance minister have been supportive you should be lacking nothing and should be having little challenges. Support from those two people gives you access to the two most important things everyone needs to succeed – Power and money.

So if indeed the President and finance minister have been supportive, how come you still don’t have the requisite staff to fully and effectively execute your mandate? Some of these statements you made towards the end of your article got me wondering whether you were not just trying to please the President for whatever reasons.

You cited bureaucracy as the culprit for the lack of the needed staff for your office. But that can’t be if the President wants things going as you seem to suggest in some parts of your article.

Uncle, you remember how the law establishing your office was fast-tracked? And how the apparent complex legal conflict between your mandate and the constitutional powers of the Attorney General was carefully and swiftly dealt with to pave the way for the establishment of your office? If the president wants things done, they are done, except as you say, people are not obeying his admonitions and ignoring instructions from the Executive Branch headed by the President.

Yea, that reminds me! After the last budget reading you applauded the Finance minister for allocating some GHC180million to your Office. How far with that allocation? Has your office received the kudi?

I know I can’t be angry with you. But for once I got angry when I read the bit where you say: “The Office of the Special Prosecutor Act empowers the Office to enforce the production of information and documents in the Courts against any public institution that fails or refuses to honour the lawful request of the Office.”

After reading that I asked myself, so why are you complaining? Why do you think the law gave you that power? The makers of the Act envisaged the problems you are complaining about and provided a cure. You are failing to apply the cure and complaining, why?

And then you also wrote: “This Office can also go to the High Court to compel heads of institutions to obey the laws that support the fight against corruption. The consequence will be that in accordance with the civil procedure rules this Office will have to sue the Attorney General as the representative of the State.” And my question is, and so what, Uncle?

Then you went on: “Those who know the history and character of the Special Prosecutor know that he is ready, able and willing to go this route should that be the only option left for the Office to effectively execute the anti-corruption mandate entrusted to him by the people of Ghana who supported his appointment.”

Uncle, why, have you changed these days? I can’t understand why you of all people will be issuing all these empty warnings without action. Please go ahead. We the people of Ghana who supported your appointment are still behind you and we are keenly waiting for your first action against the Attorney General. We supported you because we knew you are ready, able and willing to act but not to complain. Please go ahead.

And finally, you warned, in relation to the prospects of you suing the Attorney General that, “but let everyone remember when that day arrives there would be no bi-partisan praise for the Government – it will become a partisan political power play. Those who think this is talking too much or complaining too much should remember that a stitch in time saves nine.”

In fact, I am one of those who think you are talking too much and complaining too much. Please go ahead and act. You were appointed to do the job, not to be telling or warning us about the consequences of enforcing the law. Ah, you are making me sound a bit impatient now. Let me stop here before I say something that will anger you to cancel my name from your list of loyal nephews.

I wish you all the best.

Your loyal nephew,

Sulemana Braimah.