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General News of Monday, 1 January 2018

Source: citifmonline.com

Special Prosecutor will be a ‘lame duck’ if it is not independently appointed - Asiedu Nketia

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has warned that the Office of the Special Prosecutor risks being a lame duck if it is not independently appointed.

The party’s General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, believes that the appointment of an independent person would ensure a transparent fight against corruption.

Mr. Asiedu Nketia was speaking at the commemoration of the 31st December Revolution, held at Ho in the Volta Region on Sunday. “I want to remind them that if they are going to appoint another NPP lawyer as the independent prosecutor, then you would have wasted the nation’s time and resources in making that law. It is because of the difficulty of an NPP lawyer as the Attorney General trying to prosecute offenders within the NPP government that we decided that, let us get an independent prosecutor,” the NDC General Secretary said.

He stressed that appointing another NPP lawyer will be tantamount to having “two lame-duck Attorney Generals who can only prosecute members of a past government and not deal with members of the sitting government. That is the wrong way of fighting corruption.”

Parliament passed the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill in November 2017 after its third reading marking the fulfillment a major NPP promise.

When operational, it is hoped the Special Prosecutor’s office will be independent of the Executive, which observers believe will allow it to adequately deal with corruption-related issues that have plagued past governments.

The Bill defines the modalities for the appointment and operations of the Special Prosecutor, which will have the mandate to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged corruption under the Public Procurement Act 203 Act 63 and other corruption-related offenses implicating public officers, political office holders and their accomplices in the public sector.

The NDC has expressed concern over a possible witchhunt but the Akufo-Addo administration has been quick to assuage such fears, with the President consistently assuring that NDC officials will not be unduly targeted.

The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Inusah Fuseini also noted that the Office of the Special Prosecutor was going to be open to abuse like any other political appointment.

“I am not saying that it is not a political setup by the NPP for the purpose of the NPP. I am saying that it is a political office, established in pursuant of a political promise. It now becomes an institution of State because it is a political office and set up in pursuant to the Manifesto of the NPP, it can be abused,” he asserted.

In the event that some NDC members are indicted over corruption, Former President John Mahama has urged party members to sympathize with them.

“They will have their day in court and until they have that day in court, it is our duty to solidarize with them to make sure they have the best legal representation to be able to put their case in order, and it is my wish that things will turn out well for them,” he said.