This Office of Special Prosecutor thing: Matters arising

Folks, the much-touted Office of the Special Prosecutor should be established soon because Ghana’s Parliament has enacted the bill legitimizing it. (See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Parliament-passes-Special-Prosecutor-s-Bill-600610).

The zeal and alacrity with which Parliament handled this bill is exemplary. One wishes that this lethargic Parliament could do so with other bills, especially the one regarding the Right to Information. (The work of this Office of the Special Prosecutor can be expedited/enhanced if this bill is enacted to improve access to information of public interest. Why isn’t Parliament able to pass it many years after it had been initiated?).

Despite the acrimony surrounding this Special Prosecutor thing, it is clear that Parliament has now set the stage for Akufo-Addo to move on with this idea as an innovation to the Ghanaian justice delivery system. How this office functions will make or mar it all.

The controversy surrounding this innovation still hangs around, though.  And here is why:

  1. Nomenclature issues: Is this “Office of Special Prosecutor” still known by other names (such as “independent Prosecutor” or what else)? We want to know the exact designation/qualification so we can prepare for its work.
  2. Special Prosecutor: Akufo-Addo jumped the gun to name his chamber-mate (Akoto Ampaw) as the Independent/Special Prosecutor even at the time that the groundwork hadn’t been done for such a position to be created and legitimized.

Now, there are opinions that the appointee should be chosen on the basis of “competition”. So, by rushing to appoint Akoto Ampaw as such, has Akufo-Addo already undercut the system? How can Akoto-Ampaw portray himself as politically neutral, having already been tainted with the NPP colours?

  1. Independence of the Special Prosecutor: A laughable nuisance!! Who in public office in Ghana can claim to be independent of the appointing authority? A huge sham to be pooh-poohed.

The so-called Special Prosecutor is nothing but an errand boy to be tossed, twisted, and turned around by Akufo-Addo. In Ghana, where the system doesn’t support the appointee by the “appointer”, it stands to reason that any talk of “independence of thought and action” on the part of the appointee is an addition to the “Concert party” enactments going on.

There are many strings already set up to make this so-called Special Prosecutor a marionette/puppet to be toyed with for political expediency. No wonder that some loud-mouths in the NPP cabal are already telling us how the Office of the Special Prosecutor is positioned in their minds to target NDC functionaries.

We have heard them say that enough evidence has been gathered for them to be tried and punished as soon as the Special Prosecutor settles in the grove. Basket Mouth Yaw Osafo-Marfo said it; Kennedy Agyapong confirmed it; and Dr. Respect-seeker Bawumia reiterated it a few days ago in in his petulant rejoinder to comments coming from ex-President Mahama.

So, the murkiness surrounding this Office of the Special Prosecutor is already thickening. Any credibility for it? I wonder.

We already have instances of corruption by those in the Akufo-Addo government. Yet, nothing is being said to suggest that the Office of the Special Prosecutor will aim at them too. What sort of cherry-picking is this in matters of justice delivery?

  1. Credibility of the Office of Special Prosecutor: Given all the issues surrounding this innovation, I wonder if there is any credibility for it. A non-starter it is likely to be.

I am reminded of the Public Tribunal system that Rawlings introduced to curb crimes of all kinds in his “revolutionary” days. The Ghana bar Association chose to boycott anything having to do with Public Tribunals and sanctioned any of its member who chose to do otherwise. The Ellis Owusu Fordjours, Kofi Bosompems, Nii Okaija Adamafios, Nelson Agbesis, and others disregarded that GBA stance and worked at the Tribunals. What has become of those Tribunals belongs to history. Now, it is the turn of the Office of Special Prosecutor. History unfolding!!

  1. Purview: The exact purview of this office of Special Prosecutor and the extent to which this Office will cut across the existing judicial (investigative and prosecutorial) system raises eyebrows. What is it that this Office can do that the existing system has failed to do? What is the guarantee that it will do better, anyway, given the fact that the very human and material (logistic) apparatus that exists in Ghana hasn’t helped matters all these years?

How to place the existing apparatus (Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department) alongside this office beats my imagination. Are they to operate as parallel institutions? A mere duplication of functions? What for if not for political machinations?

  1. Logistic Support: We are being told how much is to be allocated to this Office of Special Prosecutor in the 2018 budget and that its staff will enjoy immunity. Why give preferential treatment to this amorphous entity and neglect the established authority for justice dispensation in Ghana (Ministry of Justice and its analogous institutions)?

CONCLUSION

By passing this law, Parliament has plugged itself into the equation. I wish that it would do so in other areas to prove its worth. Thus far, it has turned out to be a laughable institution that is a drain on the tax-payer’s sweat, toil, and blood. Ghana deserves better.

To Akufo-Addo and Co., let me say that the enactment of this law isn’t an occasion for chest-thumping or celebration because the battle hasn’t started at all. Whether the Special Prosecutor will succeed or not depends to a large extent on the “Ghanaian psyche”—and we know what goes into politicking in Ghana when it comes to matters verging on corruption.

If you honestly need my guarded opinion on what is unfolding, I will simply refer you to the Rawlings master plan of “unprecedented revolutionary action” hat Akufo-Addo and the Nyaho-Tamakloes were part of till now that they have found a point of departure because “things are knocking things”? No more!!

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I shall return…

  • E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com
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