How Independent are the Independent Institutions under President Akufo-Addo in the light of Amidu’s refusal to be “simpa panyin”?

The reason(s) Mr Martin Amidu, now former Special Prosecutor, has given for his resignation from office resurrects the nagging question – how independent are the independent institutions under President Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party government? An answer to this question is very important not because it is our duty as citizens to protect the independence of these institutions, but the fact that we are in election year, and all these independent institutions must be seen discharging their statutory mandates without any unseen hands manipulating them.

The crux of Mr Amidu’s resignation is tied to the two meetings with President Akufo-Addo after he wrote to him to highlight the corruption and thievery inherent in the Agyapa deal of which the President himself was indicted. According to Amidu, immediately the letter got to the President, he directed the Chief of Staff to deliver a person message to him. The CoS wrote to him inviting him to a meeting with the President at the Jubilee House after she was unable to reach him on phone. The melodrama started from here.

According to Amidu, he was shocked to the bone marrow when the President who assured him of his independence to discharge his mandate regardless of who was involved, asked him not to do anything with the revealing report until further instructions from him. He added that the President pleaded with him to give him one week to get back to him which he (Amidu) reluctantly agreed. While at this, the President personally, from the accounts of Amidu, wanted him to water down the report to ‘clear’ him and the others indicted, before it was published. Mr Amidu said he objected to this and reminded the President that his office is an independent institution and that neither him nor the Ministry of Finance could alter or change anything in the report. Mr Amidu said he reasserted this point at a second meeting with the President when he (the President) wanted him to take a copy of what he called a response from the Finance Ministry and factor it into his report.

At this stage, all that the President wanted Amidu to do was to accept the supposed response from the Ministry of Finance and rely on same to dilute the report of which Amidu said, he objected. Mr Amidu said, he deduced from the actions of the President that he wanted him to do two things – first, shelve the 64 page report on Agyapa deal which indicts the President and his appointees in the Agyapa deal and keep it away from Ghanaians, and secondly, the President did not want him to publish the report or if it would be published at all, not in it’s incriminating form as presented. Sensing this, Amidu said he issued a statement announcing to the world that he had presented the report on the risk assessment to the President. To further cripple the President and his hangers-on and disarm them from hiding the report, Amidu said, he caused it to be published without recourse to the President.

This revelation by Amidu points to two things – first, the President has a salivating appetite for controlling and manipulating independent institutions, and secondly the President supposed ruthless anti-corruption credentials, perhaps, died the very day he was sworn into office or he had nothing close to that credentials at all. These observations corroborate what had happened under President Akufo-Addo’s governmental so far in terms of the fight against corruption. It is no secret that heads of independent institutions who have dared to assert their independence to do their work without fear or favor have either been kicked out of office or are in the process of being kicked out. Only those who have agreed to be tele-guided to do their work on the instructions of President Akufo-Addo’s whims and caprices are the only ones enjoying their office. Indeed, Amidu made this observation in his resignation letter to support this claim when he said President Akufo Addo mistakingly thought he could use him as a poodle. In other words he wanted Amidu to be ‘simpa panyin’.

Mr. Amidu’s revelation again confirms claims that all committees constituted to investigate President Akufo Addo’s appointees like Pius Enam Hadzide, Kojo Baah Agyemang, Alfred Obeng and others were all kangaroo committees which were stampeded to clear them of any wrong doing. If any of these Committees indeed did independent work which indicted any of the appointees, Amidu’s account of the two meetings at the Jubilee House leading to his resignation tells us that, the reports were edited to clear them before they were published. The President’s insatiable taste for controlling everybody in the country portends danger, especially as we ready ourselves for another crucial election.

The Electoral Commission, the Police Service, the Criminal Investigations Department, the Judiciary and other agencies are enjoined by law to be independent and not subject to the control of anybody – not even the President. However, the conduct of the heads of the Electoral Commission, the IGP, the CID boss, the Chief of Defence Staff and others, clearly tells us that the independence of these institutions exist only on paper, at least under the Presidency of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Mr Amidu’s account tells us that, before, for instance, the EC Chair or the Chief Justice, took decisions on issues that have confronted them so far, they were summoned to the Jubilee House and given specific instructions to follow.

It is therefore not surprising that anytime the Chief Justice or EC boss took any decision, it was communicators of government that acted us their spokespersons. In fact, there were instances were the NPP General Secretary, John Boadu, inadvertently announced the EC’s planned programmes days before the EC itself came out to inform the public about what they intended to do. These are all acts confirming what Amidu narrated in his letter about how President Akufo-Addo wanted to dictate to him how he should conduct his legal duties.

A President who is really committed to the fight against corruption would not attempt to control independent institutions to pander to his dictates. A President who is really upbeat about fighting corruption would be much interested in supporting independent institutions to investigate and/or prosecute his own appointees like former President John Mahama did with Mr Abuga Pele. To President Akufo-Addo, fighting corruption means prosecuting your political opponents. From all indications, corruption has won the fight against it under President Akufo-Addo. If this fight was a heavyweight bought, corruption would have been jubilating by now for winning a world title.

Amos Blessing Amorse
Deputy Greater Accra Regional Youth Organizer
National Democratic Congress

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