The Office of the Special Prosecutor mandated “to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged corruption under the Public Procurement Act 203 Act 63 and other corruption-related offences implicating public officers, political office holders and their accomplices in the public sector” was conspicuously missing from the speech of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during a meeting with the diplomatic corps at the Peduase Lodge, Tuesday.The president who swore in Martin Amidu as Ghana’s first Special Prosecutor almost a year ago, mentioned to members of the diplomatic corps at the meeting to rather report any of his appointees who engage in acts of corruption to his office.
“Should you, members of the diplomatic corps be notified of any evidence of corruption against any of my appointees, I insist that they [should] be shared with my office to enable action to be taken on the matter,” he was quoted by the GNA to have said while stating that two of his appointees are currently under investigations for acts of corruption.
The president’s comment is pricking minds as many ponder over why an office he pushed for its establishment would be refused a mention on that occasion.
During Mr. Amidu’s swearing-in ceremony, the president expressed optimism in his appointee’s ability to fight corruption and further asserted that the unanimous approval from Parliament was enough justification that he made the right choice.
“The overwhelming popular acceptance by the good people of Ghana and the strong consensus approval by Parliament of Mr. Amidu’s nomination justifies the confidence I repose in him. Indeed, his eloquence and grasp of issues displayed to the public during his recent vetting is further testimony of the soundness of his appointment,” the president remarked.
Challenges of the Office of the Special Prosecutor in fighting corruption in Ghana
After months of assuming office, Amidu in an epistle accused appointees and heads of institutions of making his work difficult.
Among other things, the former Attorney General said: “the refusal of heads of institutions to take steps to enforce basic rules of discipline governing their institutions even when they know that their officers are under investigation, have been cautioned, bailed, and eventually even charged with corruption and corruption-related offences”.
“Heads of institutions wantonly disregard statutory requests made by the Office for information and production of documents to assist in the investigation of corruption and corruption-related offences, in spite of the fact that the President has on a number of occasions admonished them on such misconduct.
“There have also been cases where some heads of institutions have made it their habit to interfere with and undermine the independence of this Office by deliberately running concurrent investigations falling within the jurisdiction of this Office with on-going investigations in this Office for the sole purpose of aborting investigations into corruption and corruption-related offences.”
Prior to this, he had mentioned that his office was under-resourced, a claim Gabby Asare Otchere Darko, a staunch member of the ruling New Patriotic Party debunked.
According to Mr. Otchere Darko, Amidu’s office obtained the highest budgetary allocation from the 2019 budget under the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) section.
He disclosed that the Office of the Special Prosecutor was given a total of GHS 180,160,231 followed by the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department with GHS 135,983,714.
Despite being resourced to "discharge his duties vigorously, with courage, without fear or favour, ill-will or malice, in accordance with the rule of law", the president, who has been accused by the opposition National Democratic Congress of shielding his appointees cited for corruption, was silent on Amidu and his office.