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Opinions of Monday, 23 November 2020

Columnist: Aljaji Iddi Muhayu-Deen

Open letter to ‘know-it-all, see-it-all and do-it-all’ Martin Alamisi Amidu

Former Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu Former Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu

I have, like many Ghanaians, for some years, followed your anti-corruption crusade with considerable admiration.

This admiration, I am able to say, without doubt, got to its highest point when you single-handedly marshalled forces and resources to fight the gargantuan thievery perpetrated against the State by the NDC under the Mills and John Mahama administration in the Woyome, Waterville, and Isofoten line of cases.

This, and many other things you have done deservingly earned you the title, citizen vigilante.

And so, when you were eventually appointed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as Ghana’s first Special Prosecutor, the appointment was, rightly so, hailed across the globe and by the Ghanaian people in particular.

The President was equally commended for demonstrating a strong resolve to fighting corruption by appointing a founding and leading member of the main opposition political party to essentially serve as a watchdog to his government and more.

Based on your record in anti-graft fight, expectations of you as Special Prosecutor was exceedingly high. Ghanaians could not and did not expect less from you. But how did it all end? You did not only disappoint the people who had high expectations from you but you also ended up insulting their intelligence and portrayed yourself as the only sensible person in this country. You came across as suggesting that everybody in Ghana but you is “foolish”, corrupt and unintelligent.

You began by tearing apart the very office you eventually accepted to occupy. You made nonsense of all the illustrious efforts put in by the State through the extensive consultative processes undertaken by Parliament with support from governance think tanks and CSOs. Since your appointment on 23rd February 2018, which is more than two years, all that we hear from your office has been lamentations upon lamentations. You complained about everything and anything that happened in this country whether or not it had any relationship with your office.

This left many wondering whether you were appointed as Special Prosecutor or rather as a Special Complainant. Even where people wrote their book and make no mention of you, either in person or an office you occupied, you still had reason to respond to them and engage in unproductive back and forth with them as though you were the subject matter of their literary work.

It was therefore not surprising that since your appointment two years ago, instead of delivering results, you were only delivering complaints. You had completely lost focus and was only engaged in trivialities. No wonder for all this period, you could not successfully investigate and prosecute a single case of corruption or suspected corruption in line with your mandate despite the millions of taxpayers’ money that have been expended on the establishment of the office (OSP) and the huge expectations therefrom. You had personalized the Office and was using same for settling personal scores.

Much as I agree that the corruption risk assessment report you voluntarily produced on the Agyapa Royalties Agreement is by far the most significant assignment you did since assuming office, I also dare say, it is that report that greatly exposed your incompetence and mischief. Your Agyapa report essentially confirms that Ghanaians were of the mistaken belief that by reason of the role you played in the Woyome-Waterville line of cases, you would be an excellent Special Prosecutor.

Following the overwhelming criticisms, rightly so, that characterized the release of your report on the Agyapa Royalties Agreement particularly your failure, which you conceded, to adhere to the basic rule of Natural Justice, you felt embarrassed whereupon you resigned your position citing some flimsy excuses, regrettably.

You mentioned political interference and the lack of a proper operational secretariat as the two reasons that compelled you to resign. The only evidence you gave to substantiate your allegation of political interference was that the President had requested you to give a hearing to the individuals (including the Finance Minister) whose work you audited in adherence to the basic rule of NATURAL JUSTICE. The President made this request also because you [Martin Amidu] had stated in your letter to the President that you hoped the report will be used to guide future legislative and EXECUTIVE ACTIONS to make corruption a high risk enterprise.

You certainly know that executive actions are taken by the executive arm of government which is headed by the President per Article 58 of Ghana’s constitution. How do you expect President Akufo-Addo, the consummate constitutional and human rights lawyer, guide his executive action or take a decision against the Finance Minister and the other named individuals without giving them a hearing? You know that the ‘audi alteram partem rule’ [listen to the other side or the right to fair hearing] is the most basic and non-derogable rule of nature that underpins every legal system in the world.

Interestingly, you accused the President of breaching the second rule of Natural Justice, which is the rule against bias, expressed in legal terms as ‘nemo judex in causa sua’ when you said the President was acting as a judge in his own cause for asking the Finance Ministry to comment on your observations and findings in line with the first rule of Natural Justice explained hereinbefore.

If you knew the President was acting unconstitutionally, why did you agree with him to offer the public officials affected by your work an opportunity to comment? Assuming without admitting that you had basis to make that accusation, I am putting it to you Mr. Know-it-all that you cannot come to equity with tainted hands. You equally cannot be calling for equity when you are not ready to do equity.

In any case, how can you in one breath, commend President Akufo-Addo for demonstrating strong commitment and courage to working with you to fight corruption and yet, you turn back to accuse the same President of interference in your work pursuant to which you resigned your position as the Special Prosecutor. How do you blow both hot and cold at the same time, and which one should we believe Mr. Know-it-all and do-it-all?

You again accused the Presidency of failing to provide you with the necessary financial and administrative support for the set-up activities of your office and its effective functioning when in fact and indeed, you know very well that so much money has been released to your office for this purpose which you deliberately failed to utilize.

You had received more funds than some of the government ministries for goods and services, recruitment and payment of employees’ salaries and for capital expenditure. Your office has in excess of over Ghc 60.4 million as at November 2020 sitting idle in your account.

You had insisted that you alone be made to manage the payroll of your office because of confidentiality and independence, and you were granted that. You were given financial clearance to recruit the number of workers that you need for the effective and efficient running of your office. You chose to recruit only two persons, and yet, you accuse the government of failing to staff your office as you expected.

On office accommodation which you complained of, there is more than enough evidence that at least six different facilities including a 10-storey building were made available to you including facilities identified by you which were renovated at the taxpayers’ expense for your occupation but were all rejected by you. You, in the stead, opted to remain in your present office accommodation.

It is therefore disingenuous and highly hypocritical for you to blame government for failing to establish an operational office for the Special Prosecutor, and for the current state of your office accommodation, which you said, was inadequate. Again, as clearly established above, you have absolutely no basis to accuse the Presidency or government of political interference in the performance of the duties of your office to warrant your voluntary resignation.

You may be a nice lawyer and prosecutor but certainly your temperament and sanctimonious tendencies as well as your ‘know-it-all, see-it-all and do-it-all’ attitude has failed you and the entire Republic. My only regret is that you have lost a glorious opportunity to once again have your name imprinted in the annals of history insofar as mention is made of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, which is by far, the most significant addition to the country’s corruption fight.

I wish you well in your future endeavors.