Special prosecutor not panacea to corruption fight, says Daboya MP

Hon. Shaibu Mahama, Member of Parliament (MP) for Daboya/Mankarigu constituency in the Northern Region, has said the establishment of Special Prosecution Office to fight against corruption is simply a duplication of duty and that it would not add up anything pragmatic.

According to Mr. Shaibu, a member of the Committee on Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs of Parliament, the dropping out of the independency of the prosecutor has weakened its powers to initiate and prosecute corrupt officials.

Hon Shaibu made these remarks when The Republic caught up with him in parliament in Accra last Friday when the Special Prosecution Bill was read for the second time.

The Special Prosecution Bill, he said, will not do anything different from the existing state institutions empowered by the constitution, arguing that what is most needed is to resource the state institutions to do what is expected of them.

He told the paper that, even though the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC), are not in principle against the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, they are strongly against the usurping of prosecutorial powers conferred on the Attorney-General by Article 88 (3) of the Constitution, by the new office and so they are ready to strongly resist that attempt.

In his view, if the Attorney-General is going to cede some of her prosecutorial powers to the Office of the Special Prosecutor – which will have the powers of an Appeal Court – then Article 88 (3) of the Constitution ought to be amended, otherwise it would be unconstitutional to go ahead to pass the bill.

He further argued that it would be wrong for parliament to also pass an Act to amend Article 88 (3) because Article 289 (2) strongly objects to that.

“We advised them but they will not take it. Now they have removed the independency from the Bill. So now it is just Special Prosecutor who takes its instructions or powers from the Attorney General and that is where the challenge is,” the Daboya/Mankarigu MP said.

He noted that instead of creating the Office of the Special Prosecutor, it would be better to properly resource the existing anti-corruption agencies, like the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), to fight corruption in the country.

Mr. Shaibu averred that, “We are not against this bill because all of us agree that corruption is an enemy to development, but we will resist any amendment of this Constitution in relation to this bill through the backdoor.”

He said, any Ghanaian citizen could challenge the constitutionality of the Special Prosecution on grounds that Article 289 (2) states that, “the 1992 Constitution shall not be amended by an Act of Parliament or altered whether directly or indirectly,” adding that consideration and passage of the SP bill would be an affront to the constitution.

He expressed great concern over the independence of the Special Prosecutor, stressing that once the President will have a hand in the appointment of the Special Prosecutor, his or her independence could be compromised.

He said that the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor is a political promise, which is captured in the NPP’s manifesto, and so there could be the propensity to use it to witch- hunt political opponents.

The MP also argued against the fact that, it is not correct for the bill to take away the right of witnesses to remain silent when they appear before the Special Prosecutor, predicting that all cases that would appear before the Prosecutor might eventually end up at the Supreme Court for their judgement.

The Daboya/Mankarigu MP reiterated the minority stance on the Bill, emphasizing that the minority members are never opposed to the bill because they are not scared, but want the right things to be done.

He said all Ghanaians, including the minority members, are against any act of corruption, adding that what was of more concern in fashioning out and designing the Bill is the operational, financial and structural independence of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

Last Friday, Parliament agreed on the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) Bill, with both sides advancing cogent arguments in support of the office meant to check public office corruption.

This was after Sophia Akuffo, the Attorney General, had presented the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill for the second reading.

The Bill was introduced to the House and read for the first time on July 31, this year, after which members had the opportunity to read through and propose amendments.

Members have since proposed about 77 clauses and 100 amendments to the legislation moved to fulfil President Nana Akufo Addo’s campaign pledge in 2016.

The Bill also proposes five divisional offices, which are Administrative, Investigation, Prosecution, Assets recovery and Managerial.

 

Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba

 

The Republic News Online

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