It is “strange” and “unacceptable” that the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, does not think his “frustrations” are the handiwork of President Nana Akufo-Addo, investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni has said.
Speaking to Benjamin Akakpo on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Monday, 9 December 2019 about his impressions of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the anti-graft journalist wondered why Mr Amidu has always been “ranting” about how appointees of the President, except the President himself, are frustrating his work.
“One of the major antidotes that this government prescribed was the Office of the Special Prosecutor; that’s Mr Martin Amidu’s outfit. But anybody, who has followed keenly, will agree with me that office has not lived up to its expectation and Mr Martin Amidu has released a number of statements [and] articles ranting and blaming everyone else for what he describes as frustrations his office faced but the President.
“And what I did not agree with him [on] was when he stated that government institutions and ministers were frustrating his efforts and the President even stepped in to make them obey but they were still adamant.
“So, he blamed them for frustrating his efforts but exonerated the President, which I thought was very unfortunate because those people who are frustrating your work were not appointed by my grandfather; they were appointed by the President, so, if the President thinks corruption is so important and he wants to fight it and his appointees are not cooperating with the man he has elected or appointed to fight corruption, and he looks on, then why do you take the President out”, Mr Awuni asked.
He emphasised: “The President has a team, ministers and others he has appointed, who are frustrating the work of the Special Prosecutor and the Special Prosecutor is the main person the President wants to fight corruption and the President allows them, does not sanction them, does not sack them, and they keep doing that, so, if the Special Prosecutor wants us to believe that the President has no hand in the frustration, I find that very strange and unacceptable”.
Meanwhile, Mr Awuni believes the Office of the Special Prosecutor is a failure and has given it a poor rating.
“If I’m to score the Office of the Special Prosecutor, I’ll score him 20 per cent”, the said, adding: “20 per cent is even generous because we have a President who wins an election and says: ‘Look, I’m going to fight corruption and one of the main tools I’m going to use is ‘A’”.
“Today is 9 [December 2019]. 9 December 2016 was exactly when he [Akufo-Addo] was declared winner [of the 2016 general elections], and by 7 December next year, we should be going to the polls to elect a President, so, we can say he’s done about three years. Out of the four years, he has only one year [left], so, his main anti-corruption tool, how many prosecutions have we seen?” he asked.
In Mr Awuni’s view, Mr Amidu has failed to use his office to go after weightier graft cases but rather focusing on the alleged evasion of taxes (GHS36,000) by Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga.
“I’m not saying there’s no case or whatever in Ayariga’s issue, but if after one year we have hundreds of millions of cedis wasted and then the Special Prosecutor is going after some GHS36,000, the Special Prosecutor could have also looked at the GYEEDA report; there are a lot of things in there, a lot of low-hanging fruits worth hundreds of millions of cedis that this office should have developed an interest in, but you spend all your energies chasing Ayariga worth some GHS36,000, then where I sit and what I know, I wouldn’t take that office seriously until it proves itself worthy of being taken seriously because I was one of those who felt the Office of the Special Prosecutor was very good and I even wrote an article commending the President for appointing Martin Amidu because I felt he was the best person to have been appointed, but from where I sit, I see that office as a failure until that office proves otherwise”, he noted.
Amidu v. Ayariga
Mr Amidu filed a suit against the MP at an Accra High Court in connection with the alleged tax evasion.
Mr Ayariga allegedly paid GHS6,062.86 instead of GHS36,591.15 at the port for the importation of three second-hand Toyota Land Cruisers while serving as a minister of state under the erstwhile Mahama administration.
In January this year, Mr Amidu secured an order from an Accra Circuit Court which directed mobile network operator MTN to produce the call records of a conversation between the lawmaker and an officer of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Mr Amidu told the Accra Circuit Court “2” presided over by Mrs Ruby Naa Adjeley-Quayson that the Office of Special Prosecutor (OSP) had already obtained an order to conduct a forensic examination on three mobile phone numbers from the Director-General of Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.
He urged the court to exercise its powers under the Electronic Transaction Act, Act 2008(Act 772) of Section 100, 101 and 103.
In August 2018, Mr Amidu reported Mr Ayariga to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) for allegedly attempting to frustrate his investigation into the tax evasion matter.
Mr Amidu alleged that Mr Mahama kept sending influential people such as chiefs, pastors and opinion leaders to plead for mercy on his behalf, an allegation the Bawku Central MP denied.