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Opinions of Friday, 2 November 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

The unresolved bribery and corruption cases: Don’t blame Akuffo-Addo, blame Amidu

In as much as the concerned Ghanaians have every reason to bemoan the lack of prosecutions in the bribery and corruption cases, it is unfair for anyone to blame Akufo-Addo and side-line the mandated corruption prosecutor, Amidu.

In fact, President Akufo-Addo’s actions and inactions towards the battle against the canker of corruption cannot be underestimated.

How could anyone aim a finger at a man who has created the Office of the Special Prosecutor with the view to combating the corrosive effects of corruption?

How would you accuse someone who can even report his own right-hand men to the investigative body such as the Criminal Investigation Department?

Isn’t it boundlessly unconscionable for anybody to suggest that a politician who can even reject the juicy trappings of a ministerial post can be corrupt?

Believe it or not, it is absolutely true that the man Akufo-Addo has been in active politics for well over forty years and there hasn’t been a single corruption case against him.

So, why must anybody with a reflective mind think that the septuagenarian president will now indulge in malfeasance?

To be quite honest, it is only the mischievous and the antagonists of Akufo-Addo who would aim accusing fingers at him when it comes to corruption.

In fact, the appointment of the Special Prosecutor and the subsequent inauguration of the Special Prosecutor’s Board by His Excellency President Akufo-Addo on Thursday 12th July 2018 was a clear manifestation of the president’s unwavering commitment and willingness towards the fight against the canker of corruption.

Let us however be honest, much as the paradox of exposure is somewhat relevant in the fight against the canker of corruption, it is not an isolated tool, it goes hand in hand with the prevention and deterrence.

Some of us have been looking forward, though anxiously, to seeing President Akufo-Addo’s brain child (the Special Prosecutor) to investigate, prosecute and retrieve stolen monies from the corrupt public officials.

To me, the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, arguably, remains the single most important accomplishment of President Akufo-Addo’s administration so far.

Apparently, I have always insisted that Westerners are not less corrupt than their African counterparts. However, what makes the people elsewhere much more responsible than a Ghanaian and Africans as a whole is the rigidity of the state institutions and the effective laws and regulations.

It is absolutely true that elsewhere, the laws and regulations are strictly enforced, and as such the vast majority of the citizens and denizens prefer the observance to the stringent fines and the harsh punishments.

It must however be emphasised that in as much as the followers have a duty of obligation, it is up to the leadership to bring sanity into the system by strictly ensuring that all laws and regulations are enforced without fear or favour.

So to me, the introduction of a Special Prosecutor is a pragmatic way of tackling the rampant bribery and corruption cases head-on.

Readers would bear with me that corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to nation building, thus, corrupt officials must be held accountable at all times without fear or favour.

Corruption, as a matter of fact, is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world such as Ghana that its effects are most destructive.

Unfortunately, however, it would appear that in Ghana, the justice system more often than not, descends heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go the remorseless criminals who hide behind the narrow political colorations.

We have been hoping somewhat fervently that with the arrival of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the justice system is going to descend heavily not only on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, but as well as the hard criminals who hide behind narrow political colorations.

Indeed, it would be a great news if the Special Prosecutor managed to claw-back all the embezzled monies in the scandalous corruption cases involving the infamous Bus Branding, SSNIT, Brazil World Cup, GYEEDA, AZONTABA, SADA, SUBAH, the purported $300million debt incurred on the faded STS housing deal, the dubious Embraer 190 Aircrafts and hanger for the Ghana Armed Forces and over a US$100 million oil revenue loss between 2011 and 2013 as reported by the Public Interest& Accountability Committee.

Let us face it, though, the benign and somewhat lenient approach towards the fight against the canker of corruption would not curb the widespread sleazes and corruption which have been retrogressing Ghana’s advancement thus far.

How on earth would individuals turn away from their crimes if the only available punishment for stealing the public funds is a mere plea to return the loot?

If we are ever prepared to beseech the fantastically corrupt public officials to only return their loots without any further punishment, we might as well treat the goat, plantain and cassava thieves same. For after all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

I bet, the democratic country called Ghana, may not see any meaningful development, so long as we have public officials who are extremely greedy, corrupt, and insensitive to the plight of the impoverished Ghanaians.

In fact, some of us cannot comprehend how and why the people we choose to entrust with the national coffers could team up with shifty individuals and steal gargantuan sums of money belonging to the nation without facing any stiff punishment.

We cannot discount the fact that the suspects and their apologists will grumble and squall over the Special Prosecutor’s lawful interrogations. Nevertheless, there should be no mercy for the wrong doers. We must claw-back all the stolen monies which were meant for various developmental projects.

Going forward, we must not and cannot use the justice net to catch only the plantain, goat and cassava thieves, but we must rather spread the justice net broadly to cover the hard criminals who are often disguised in political attire.

Let us humbly remind the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, that the right antidote to curbing the unbridled sleazes and corruption is through stiff punishments, including the retrieval of all stolen monies, sale of properties and harsh prison sentences.

K. Badu, UK.

k.badu2011@gmail.com