General News of Fri, 17 Feb 201736
Allow special prosecutor to be independent - Mahama tells Akufo-Addo
Former President John Mahama has entreated the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) to desist from interfering with the work of yet-to-be-established office of the Special Prosecutor.
He said the independence of the prosecutor must be assured even to the point that he or she would be able to prosecute members of the governing party.
Sharing his thought on the creation of the anti-corruption body on his Instagram handle Friday, the former Ghanaian leader lauded the initiative but urged non-interferance by the government.
The NPP in its 2016 manifesto Chapter 12, page 135, titled 'Governance, Corruption and Public Accountability,' promised to "establish, by an Act of Parliament, an Office of the Special Prosecutor."
The party said the office would be "independent of the Executive, investigate and prosecute certain categories of cases and allegations of corrupton and other criminal wrongdoing, including those involving alleged violations of the Public Procurement Act and cases implicating political officeholders and politicians."
On December 12, five-days after he was declared winner of the 2016 Presidential poll, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo told the BBC that his government would fight the menace of corruption which continues to rob the country million of cedis.
“We have decided that we want to take the politics out of it [the fight against corruption], so that the screams of witch-hunting and others will not arise, by establishing an office of a special prosecutor or somebody who will be independent of the executive and whose remit will be to investigate and tackle issues of corruption.”
The idea of the Special Prosecutor was received by Ghanaians with mixed reactions with some claiming the office would be used to witch-hunt former government officials in the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
But President Akufo-Addo allayed the fears when, in the said BBC interview, he said that the office of the Prosecutor would be used to put a strong fight against corruption.
“Hopefully, that person is going to be somebody who is going to command the respect of the society, and at the same time has an independent mind to make the decisions,” he said.
In a reaction, former President Mahama who is on a holiday in Nairobi, Kenya said the office of the Special Prosecutor would compliment the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) which was approved by Parliament in 2012.
"The new administration in Ghana has decided to introduce an independent prosecutor. That's another step forward after NACAP and other interventions in the quest to fight corruption," he said.
NACAP is a national plan of action to combat corruption in a more strategic and coordinated manner in the next 10 years.
However, two years after the Plan's implementation, the NDC government was hit with egregious corruption allegations in the National Service Scheme (NSS) and Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA).
At least 163 staff of the Scheme were dismissed. It was also established that a total of GHC7.9 million was paid to 22,612 non-existent national service personnel in more than 100 districts in July 2014. Then NSS Chief Accountant, Nelson Ayutigah and 32 others were interdicted. Also, 130 directors of the NSS are before court.
Although many people accused him of failing to tackle issues of corruption leveled against his government, former President Mahama believes he had put up a spirited fight against the canker.
He has urged his predecessor to do same, saying the "independent prosecutor must be independent enough."
In the New Patriotic Party (NPP) “MANIFESTO FOR ELECTION 2016,” Chapter 12, page 135, titled ‘Governance, Corruption and Public Accountability,’ the NPP proposed “to establish, by an Act of Parliament, an Office of the Special Prosecutor.”
This office is to “be independent of the Executive, to investigate and prosecute certain categories of cases and allegations of corruption and other criminal wrongdoing, including those involving alleged violations of the Public Procurement Act and cases implicating political officeholders and politicians.”