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General News of Friday, 23 March 2018


‘Under-resourced’ Special Prosecutor, staff get ‘small house’ as office

Today, March 23, 2018, is exactly a month since Martin Amidu was sworn in by President Nana Akufo-Addo as Ghana’s first Special Prosecutor.

It is difficult to identify which one drew the most excitement from Ghanaians; first, the announcement by President Akufo-Addo and then, his arguably sterling performance at the seven-hour-long vetting by Members of Parliament’s Appointments Committee.

He is from the opposition National Democratic Congress’ fold, yet, he agreed to serve in the opponent’s camp.

As expected, there was anger and a feeling of betrayal from that camp. That notwithstanding, the Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak, among other NDC MPs, said Martin Amidu was the best among all those he has met.

Soon after, he was sworn into office by the President, in fulfillment of his pledge and Martin Alamisi Burns Kaiser Amidu, the man who earned the nickname Citizen Vigilante, took the oath of office with a pledge to smoke out corruption.

Many hailed Mr. Amidu’s appointment as the solution to Ghana’s fight against corruption as many consider him as one of Ghana’s cleanest and uncompromising public servants.

But the government may be shooting itself in the foot because of its own failure to resource the Special Prosecutor.

It appears everything ended after the day he was sworn in. As symptomatic of many of our issues, talk about the Special Prosecutor has long died down. The excitement has made way for a deafening silence from the government.

In the scorching sun, I visited Labone in Accra. Among the buildings, I found a facility that looked like a private residence, unlike any government building.

The unmarked house has a compound too small to accommodate more than one vehicle. The interior of the one-storey house boasts of a few bedrooms that have been converted into offices fitted with desks for prosecutors and investigators needed for the job.

The Special Prosecutor himself has a small room stuffed with chairs and a dining table which will serve as his office. A few more tiny rooms and cubicles seemed like offices for other staff. The boys’ quarters at the back of the house was just big enough to accommodate other administrators.

All around, the house is dwarfed by bigger houses that look directly onto the tiny compound, raising questions about the safety and security of the people who will man this delicate office.

The infrastructure generally looked incomplete and unprepared for the intended task. On the administrative level, nothing has happened more than a month after the Special Prosecutor was sworn into office.

He still lives and handles all issues relating to the office, from his private residence. He uses his personal car, although Citi News understands he has been allocated a driver and a bodyguard.

Citi News is also aware that several members of the diplomatic corps and civil society groups have made attempts to hold meetings with the Special Prosecutor, but this has been postponed several times as the office is not fully ready for use.

According to the law establishing the Office of Special Prosecutor, a board must be appointed to assist with policy direction. A month on, this has not been done.

President Akufo-Addo once said he was a man in a hurry but beyond hurriedly announcing the nomination, it appears he is rather too slow in giving his appointee the requisite tools to help fight corruption. To begin with, the board cannot be complete without the nomination of a Deputy Special Prosecutor- something the President is yet to do.

For now, the much-talked-about and celebrated Special Prosecutor still remains an idea yet to hit the ground.

If perchance, you wanted to submit a petition to his office for investigation and action, you may have to wait a little longer because it is unclear if the “Born Before Computer” Special Prosecutor even has a postal address to receive your letters.

Indeed, he may not even have a letterhead to reply to your letters.