Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu has called on civil society groups to educate members of the public about the operations of the Special Prosecutor’s Office.
The Special Prosecutor following calls on him to probe the brouhaha surrounding the Power Distribution Services (PDS) deal, has reacted saying he is "severely restricted’’ from probing the deal because he has no powers to do so.
He has therefore, called on civil society to help educate the public in order for them not to lose confidence in the office of the Special Prosecutor even when it has no powers to investigate certain issues.
"I plead with all anti-corruption civil society members to help in enlightening ordinary members of the public about the limited jurisdiction of the Office of the Special Prosecutor so that they do not lose confidence in the Office for not investigating cases for which it has clearly no jurisdiction. Creating serious and deliberate misperception about the jurisdiction of the Office is one sure way those who fear anti-corruption activism can kill trust in the Office,’’ he wrote.
The Good Governance Advocacy Group Ghana (GGAGG) has served notice it will petition the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate the Power Distribution Service saga after the Ghana government suspended the deal over some infractions.
However, Mr. Amidu says he has no jurisdiction to probe the matter.
"The truth is that section 79 of Act 959 severely restricts the jurisdiction of the Office of the Special Prosecutor to fight corruption and corruption-related offences in Ghana unlike in other countries that are fully committed to and adhere to their obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, and the ECOWS Protocol on the Fight against Corruption in their domestic anti-corruption legislations. The ruling of the High Court in the case of the Republic v Ayariga and 1 Other, 17th July 2019, High Court, Accra, (Unreported) underscored the point I have made on the remit of the Office to a limited extent only based on lack of detailed particulars and should be a guide to the public: I annex a scanned PDF of the ruling as a separate attachment to this paper for educational purposes.”
He went to bemoaned the perception people have about his office and the fact that he could investigate all cases.
But in his response he wrote: ‘’There is the perception out there amongst the populace that the Office of the Special Prosecutor can investigate and prosecute any criminal offence under the laws of Ghana. Granted that more than 65% of the population may not be able to read and properly understand the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, the problem is compounded when persons, civil society and political organizations which ought to know better choose to petition or complain to the Office on matters which have nothing to with corruption and corruption-related offences.
Worse of all, these enlightened persons and organizations appear to be petitioning the Office more for media publicity and political point scoring than pursuing genuine complaints against adversaries. Their modus operandi is to write a letter, petition or complaint, have it published in the media long before submitting or posting the complaint to the Office. The object of such persons and organizations is not to seek a fair and impartial investigation and prosecution but to do maximum damage to perceived political opponents even before they can be investigated. It is a type of mob lynching which no reasonable and impartial law enforcement agency should be used for. Every citizen is entitled to the constitutional right to be presumed innocent and not to be presumed guilty and tried by public opinion before a determination even to commence investigations commences.
Unfortunately, the media aids in such cheap publicity seeking by just publishing the complaint without satisfying itself whether the petition really concerns a corruption and corruption-related offence. But it is not difficult for an average reasonable person to make out a corruption and corruption-related offence because the interpretation section, Section 79 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959) defines “corruption and corruption-related offences” to mean, offences under
(a) Section 146, 151, 179C, 239, 252, 253, 254, 256, 258 and 260 of the Criminal Offence Act, 1960 (Act 29);
(b) Section 92 (2) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663); and
(c) Existent offences under enactments arising out of or consequent to offences referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b);
An analysis of the above shows that out of the ten offences listed from the Criminal Offences Act, six of them are misdemeanours, two are felonies and the two are unclassified. The balance of criminal offences in the Criminal Offences Act which have not been apportioned to the Office deal with several felonies to be investigated by various law and order enforcement agencies under the Inspector General of Police, the Director-General CID, the Executive Director Economic and Organized Crime Office, the Director of the Bureau of National Investigations, the Director-General of the Ghana Immigration Service, The Executive Secretary for the Financial Intelligence Center, the National Security Co-ordinator, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and many others.’’
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