Adjournments must be regulated by law - Naa-Koshie Lamptey
The Deputy Special Prosecutor nominee, Mrs Cynthia Jane Naa-Koshie Lamptey, has recommended the determination by law, the number of adjournments that a case being tried at the court can travel.
She said many cases being tried at the courts had unnecessarily travelled for years due to the limitless number of adjournments, thereby making the accused go about freely or even eventually scrapping the cases and wasting resources of the complainant.
Mrs Lamptey, 58, made the recommendation when she was vetted last Wednesday by the Appointments Committee of Parliament.
In a grilling that took over two hours, the President’s nominee told the committee: “They only make cases take too long,” adding that if the number of adjournments were determined by law, “the loss to the client may go down too.”
Those were in response to a question posed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Akuapem South, Mr Osei Bonsu Amoah, on her suggestions for a reform of prosecutions.
Sharing her experiences as an Assistant State Attorney to the Chief State Attorney earlier, she indicated that the long trial of cases due to adjournments might have made some accused persons go unconvicted.
Mrs Lamptey, however, expressed optimism that as the Office of the Special Prosecutor was only going to deal with issues of corruption; cases would be dealt with expeditiously to serve as a deterrent to others.
She, nonetheless, stated that for that to happen there was the need to have the right calibre of personnel, as well as adequate and the necessary equipment to enable investigators to get the required information for their work.
Also responding to a question on her outstanding achievements during her 29 years in the legal profession, she replied:
“When you handle a case and you win, it is some of your achievements.”
Answering a question from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for North Tongu, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, on the highly moral character required of the Special Prosecutor as contained in Act 959, Section 16B in a nonchalant manner, the nominee said
“so straight away I have it because I have been nominated for the position.”
When asked if she had ever taken a bribe, Mrs Lamptey replied, “I have never attempted so even if they had brought it, I wouldn’t even have seen it.” She also said she had never had to stop a case she was prosecuting in her career as she always made sure a good docket had been prepared before a case was taken up.
“When you are preparing and the ingredients don’t add up you don’t go to court. Put down the ingredients that constitute the facts before going to court. I may fail procedurally but not when I have all the ingredients to prove the accused guilty,” she stated.
A case for infrastructure
Making a strong case for infrastructure, Mrs Lamptey noted that its absence hampered the work of the Attorney-General’s Department when she worked there to the extent that, “even at times, we would have to use our own money to buy A-4 sheets.”
On dealing with electronic and cyber fraud, the nominee said: “The office will have to be well equipped with the necessary infrastructure to fight them, without which it would be impossible.”
To that, the Communications Minister and NPP MP for Ablekuma West, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said her ministry was willing to support the office.
Relations with institutions, informants Concerning how she would deal with informants if given the nod, the nominee said the law should adequately provide protection for them so that they would feel comfortable to give the office the information it needed.
She asked that prosecution witnesses also be catered for and provided with transportation, especially when they lived far away from the court where a case was being heard and did not have any connection whatsoever with those involved in the case.
On relations with the public and other institutions fighting corruption such as the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), she hoped that they would provide adequate information to the office through effective collaboration, to help with its investigations.
Responding to a question from the NPP MP for Tema East, Mr Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover, on perceptions by the public that the Office of the Special Prosecutor was going to fight economic crimes, Mrs Lamptey said the office would rather help curb it and would deter a lot of people if it was able to handle cases speedily.