General News of Friday, 11 January 2019
Today, January 11, 2019 marks exactly a year since President Nana Akufo-Addo named former Attorney General, Martin Amidu as the first Head of the newly created Office of the Special Prosecutor.
Martin Amidu’s appointment was positively received by many Ghanaians due to his public position as a man with a no-nonsense stance on corruption.
Nicknamed the “Citizen Vigilante”, Martin Amidu’s mandate was to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged corruption under the Public Procurement Act 203 Act 63 and other corruption-related offenses implicating public officers, political office holders and their accomplices in the public sector.
He was also empowered to trace and recover the proceeds of corruption, leaving many with high expectations of his office, especially as there had been numerous allegations of corruption within the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, many of which were levelled against them by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by Nana Akufo-Addo, who is now President.
But a year after his appointment and subsequent swearing-in, Martin Amidu is yet to prosecute any case although there are reports of many petitions submitted to his office for investigation and legal action.
Martin Amidu’s supposed nonperformance recently forced former president Jerry John Rawlings, who has spoken largely against corruption, especially in the Mahama government to wonder what may have kept Martin Amidu from going ahead to prosecute cases of alleged corruption.
“I wonder what is holding him up. We do not want to see the perpetuation of crime. We don’t want to see crimes being committed with impunity. The power of virtue must override the power of vice,” the former President said when the leadership of the Assemblies of God Church paid a courtesy call on him on Thursday.
Some people have also called for Martin Amidu’s resignation.
Until recently, the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the Special Prosecutor has been complaining of inadequate logistics and resources to carry out its work.
Several months after his swearing-in, Martin Amidu did not have a fully furnished office to work from.
In October 2018, Citi News got information that a two-storey building had been allocated to the Office of the Special Prosecutor close to the International Press Center on the Gamel Abdul Nasser Avenue at Ridge.
The office was later completed and a GH¢180 million budgetary allocation announced by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta in the 2019 budget for the office.
Martin Amidu in appreciation of the allocation wrote to the Finance Ministry saying, “The Office of the Special Prosecutor appreciates efforts of His Excellency the President and your good self in supporting this Office to be able to establish and operationalize to the best international standard to decrease the incentive and increase to the highest level the risk for corruption towards the attainment of the agreed national anti-corruption vision for our dear country”.
“It is my determination to build and equip this Office with such capabilities and infrastructure as will enable it to execute its mandate successfully and recover such assets as are the fruits of corruption that may more than payback to the national purse any budgetary allocations you could eventually make for establishment and operations of this Office,” the letter also said.
It is clear that the allocation has strengthened the office to undertake its work but there are still many who believe that the Special Prosecutor needs to do more to address corruption in the country.
Counter arguments have been that, on the basis of the fact that all legal cases must be pursued with watertight evidence, ample time must be allowed for the cases to be built and solid evidence gathered before the case can be prosecuted.