A justice of the Supreme Court, Yaw Apau, has observed that the Special Prosecutor’s Office is constitutionally just a paper tiger under the thumb of the Attorney General.
Consequently, he advises Ghanaians who hunger and thirst for real prosecution of corrupt public officials to be measured in their expectations from the office.
“…In fact, the Special Prosecutor has no independence whatsoever, we should know that and if we don’t know we should learn it from today,” he said.
Justice Apau was speaking at the Centre for Social Justice on what can be done to uproot public sector corruption when he made the observation.
The Special Prosecutor’s Office is a controversial concept by the Akufo-Addo government which was hyped to Ghanaians as the solution to the situation in which the political entanglements of the Attorney General’s Office makes the AG unwilling to prosecute members of his own government or political party.
It was sold during the 2016 election campaign as an office that will house a prosecutor totally independent of the AG and therefore be the righteous muscle of State which will bring corrupt officeholders to reckoning.
However, after its establishment, the SPO has only proven to be just another tool under the thumb of the President who invented it, with Akufo-Addo appointing Martin Amidu as the first SP.
The no-nonsense Amidu started realising the trap he was caught in when he decided to go after corrupt members of the Akufo-Addo government.
He raised several alarms about how he was hounded, frustrated and manipulated until he resigned in fear for his life.
In his resignation, Amidu gave President Akufo Addo a parting shot, describing him as the “Mother serpent of corruption”.
Meanwhile, according to justice Apau, the weakness and lack of independence of the SP lies more in the crafting of the law establishing it which makes it impossible for the SP to go at corrupt officials without the AG’s express permission.
“The question I always pose is, if the Attorney General cannot prosecute some key public officials and his own party men who fall foul of the law because of political clout and other factors, then how can the Special Prosecutor who works under him do so? Justice Appau queried.
“We must be informed that the law establishing the office is not as independent as the ordinary man or Ghanaian walking our streets perceives him to be.”
Justice Yaw Apau continues, “The provisions of Section 4 sub-section 1 and 2 are more interesting and they provide: 4(1) except as otherwise provided in the constitution, the office is not subjected to the direction and control of a person or an authority; the law did not say of any person or any authority, it says “of a person.” It means there is somebody else who controls him.”
He pointed out that comparatively, the Electoral Commission is decidedly more independent than the SPO.
“While the electoral commissioner is somewhat total independence, the Special Prosecutor is not; in fact, the Special Prosecutor has no independence whatsoever, we should know that and if we don’t know we should learn it from today. He is subject to the authority of the Attorney General.”
The analysis by the Supreme Court Judge reinforces criticisms that Kissi Adjabeng, the recently appointed replacement for Martin Amidu was merely a poodle of the Presidency.
This criticism is even more so when the fact remains that Kissi Agyabeng is a close friend of both the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame and Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, the notorious cousin of President Akufo Addo who is regarded as Ghana’s de-facto “Prime Minister”.