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Opinions of Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Columnist: Justice Mingle

Woes of the Special Prosecutor

Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu

The Special Prosecutor Martin Alamisi Burnes Kaiser Amidu seems to have disappointed a lot of his admirers and for that matter people who had so much confidence in him and therefore recommended his appointment to the high office of Ghana’s first Special Prosecutor. As a former Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice from January 2011 to January 2012 many people hailed Mr. Amidu’s appointment by President Akufo-Addo to occupy the revered office looking at his pedigree.

The office of Special Prosecutor was established under Act 959 of Ghana’s Parliament in response to the overwhelming number of Ghanaians who had denounced the canker of corruption that had eaten deep into the fabric of public life. It then became necessary to establish an independent non-political body with the capacity to lead the fight.

Nearly three years into his appointment, Mr. Amidu has barely prosecuted a single case. He has just filed a single case against the Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga. Even with this case, almost all the charges preferred against the MP were struck out and Mr. Amidu has given myriad of excuses as to why he has been unable to prosecute. It started with lack of funds to run the office, then the low number of personnel to staff it. After all these have been resolved by government, Mr. Amidu has come up with a different story altogether. He accuses some Heads of government institutions of hampering efforts by his office to clamp down on corruption in the country.

According to Mr. Amidu, some Heads were simply refusing to comply with laid down regulations of good governance and the protection of the national purse. It is said a, ‘bad worker often quarrels with his tools’. If this proverb is anything to go by then Mr. Amidu owes the public an apology. The latest corruption Perception Index of the Ghana Integrity Initiative Scored Ghana forty out of a possible clean score of one hundred. It ranked the country 81 out of one hundred and eighty countries assessed. There is no doubt President Akufo-Addo has overwhelming confidence in Mr. Amidu to fulfil the mandate of his office but Seth Goden once said, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but about the stories you tell”.

Mr. Amidu must inspire confidence in his office by being proactive. He must be the man we thought him to be what he wrote in his several epistles during the previous regime by letting us see action. We are yet to seize ourselves of the details, but if reports that he has been paid judgement debt as stated by the former Deputy Finance Minister Cassiel Ato Forson is true, then Mr. Amidu definitely has no one to blame but himself at the opportune time. When the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta presented to Parliament how much government has paid in judgement debt since it assumed office, Mr. Ato Forson averred that Martin Amidu has been paid judgement debt for supposedly wrongful dismissal under the Atta Mills administration. We know Ministers are appointed by Radio and go by Radio. It therefore needs to be clarified why the payment of this judgement debt over a political dismissal.

Mr. Amidu owes it an obligation to clear the air over this allegation. The experience of Alfred Agbesi Woyome is there to guide us all looking at Mr. Amidu’s performance and candour as former Deputy Attorney General we believe Martin Amidu can do better than he is now else he has no choice than to resign and stop receiving salary for practically no work done. The country is sinking under corruption and the earlier we all put all shoulders to the wheel the better. The threats by Mr. Amidu to sue the State through the Attorney General to release some documents to aid in investigation into corruption related cases speak volume. This shows the relationship between the two state officials is at its lowest ebb.

Corruption related cases cannot be effectively prosecuted if there is no good rapport between the two offices, the Attorney General`s Department and the Special Prosecutor’s Office. Justice must not only be done but seen to be done. This is a popular maxim in legal jurisprudence. A stitch in time it is said saves nine.