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Parliament yesterday unanimously approved the nomination of Martin Amidu as the Special Prosecutor after an initial attempt by a member of the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in parliament to scuttle the approval based on his suit at the Supreme Court challenging the eligibility of the nominee to occupy that position.
The unanimous approval by voice votes followed a last-minute decision by the NDC MP for Tamale North and member of the Appointments Committee, Suhuyini Alhassan Sayibu – who voted against the approval of the nominee at the committee level – to acknowledge the fact that his initial vote against the nominee at the committee level was misplaced.
He, therefore, threw his full support behind the nominee, culminating in last-minute changes in the final report of the Appointments Committee, which said that apart from one member of the committee, Suhuyini Alhassan Sayibu, there was an overwhelming majority decision to approve the nominee at the committee level.
The chairman of the committee, who is also the first deputy speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, craved the indulgence of the house to alter the report – change the ‘overwhelming majority decision’ to approve of the nominee to a ‘consensus decision’ at the committee level to approve of the nominee.
The decision of the Tamale North MP to back the approval of the nominee meant that the approval at the plenary level would not have to be subjected to laborious secret voting but unanimous adoption of the report through voice vote.
The NDC MP for Bolgatanga East and former Deputy Attorney General, Dr Dominic Ayine, who on February 12 had filed a suit challenging the constitutionality and eligibility of the nominee, stood on a point of order after the chairman of the Appointments Committee had moved the motion for adoption of the report and approval of the nominee.
According to Dr Dominic Ayine, he was coming on Order 93(1) that says that reference shall not be made to any matter on which judicial decision is pending in such a way as may in the opinion of the speaker, prejudice the interest of parties to the action
He said once he was challenging the eligibility of the nominee with regards to his age (66 years), which he explained is in breach of the Constitution, parliament could not go ahead to approve the nomination of Mr Martin Amidu since any decision of parliament on the approval of the nominee could have judicial effect on the decision of the Supreme Court.
The speaker, Prof Mike Oquaye, however, said that as far as he was concerned, there was nothing about the suit before him and that any decision by parliament could not influence the decision of the court on the matter because there is complete separation of powers and each of the three arms of government cannot interfere in the work of the other.
He, therefore, ruled the Bolgatanga East MP out of order for the debate on the report to commence.
Contributing to the report of the committee, minority chief whip, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, said that the competence and experience of the nominee were not in doubt at all; but he must be very careful about how he acts on ‘whistleblower’ information that is brought to him for investigation.
He said judging from the temperament of the nominee, he should be very accommodating to work with all the people who would be independently recruited to work at the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
The second deputy minority chief whip and MP for Banda, Ahmed Ibrahim, said that the work of the Special Prosecutor would not be effective if the Right To Information (RTI) was not immediately passed.
He, therefore, called on the government to, as a matter of urgency and policy, bring a new bill on the RTI to parliament to pass and bring it into operation.
The second deputy speaker, Alan Bagbin, also said that there was no doubt about the independent-mindedness and suitability of the nominee, but noted that he (Special Prosecutor) alone could not fight corruption in the country unless all Ghanaians support him in his new role.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said that the work of the Special Prosecutor must start with officials of the government because they control state resources and also supervise public procurement.
The majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Bimbilla who is the Minister of Defence and member of the committee, Dominic Nitiwul, said that President Akufo-Addo, who is very serious in eliminating corruption from the system, decided to appoint a well-tested individual, who is a prominent member of the opposition NDC.
According to him, the choice of Mr Martin Amidu was based on his ability to deliver and not on any political consideration.
Another member of the committee from the majority side, Samuel Atta Akyea, who doubles as the Minister for Works and Housing, observed that the president, as a respecter of the constitution and rule of law, would not allow the right of anyone who would appear before the Special Prosecutor to be abused.
He said the Special Prosecutor also knows his mandate and will not do anything to hurt the integrity of any suspect, who would have the right to counsel and fair hearing.
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