– Combating Corruption
…As Public Consultation On Bill Takes Off
Hon. Alhaji Inusah A.B. Fuseini, Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale Central and Ranking Member of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, has said the Minority side of Ghana’s parliament will ensure that due diligence is done on the Office of Special Prosecutor Bill to make it have a full degree of independence from the presidential control.
According to him, the fight against corruption is not exclusive to the government of the day and that leaving the operational work of the special prosecutor at the full control of the presidency would taint its integrity and subsequently defeat the purpose of its establishment.
Alhaji Fuseini made the observation when The Republic caught up with him on the sidelines at a stakeholders’ conference on the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill in parliament yesterday.
He told the paper that, the fight against corruption is a national canker and the formation of the office of the Special Prosecutor is a laudable move, adding that the Minority in parliament are in full support, but would not allow the majority to rush the Bill without ensuring that due diligence was made to insulate the office from political interference.
“We the Minority our views are very clear, we want the right thing to be done. We are asking that the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, there should be transparency, some level of professionalism, unbiased, no political interference, integrity of the office should not be tampered with and must be insulated from the Presidential powers to hire and fire.”
“And indeed, we want to ensure that only the Attorney General has the right to hire but it will have no right to fire, except parliament, and that is what we are asking for and that is what the stakeholders are also advocating for, ” Alhaji Fuseini said.
He disclosed the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, as part of its consultative process, has constituted three consultative groups to go round the world and understudy other countries that are currently using the Special Prosecutors/Investigators to fight the corruption menace in their society.
These countries to be understudied, he mentioned, include Singapore, USA, Kenya and South Africa, which he noted are all part of the due diligence to help enrich the Bill.
All these consultation processes, he said, “will help to make the Bill more transparent and the integrity of the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the appointment more nationalistic to serve the purpose, which is to fight corruption and other crimes in public offices.”
The Tamale Central MP, who is also the immediate former Minister of Roads and Highways, said, even though the supervising of the SP is a central part of Attorney General’s job and it may never be independent of the state prosecution team, the committee is working to ensure that the SP has its own investigation powers, without recourse to the presidency’s directives and control.
Some Ghanaian legal experts have argued that, the Special Prosecutor’s role is driven by politics and not law and that there was no doubt that the Special Prosecutor would be serving at the pleasure of the President.
In the view of those Ghanaians, the President has undisputed legal authority to hire and fire the Attorney General, the sole state prosecutor who in the instance case has the right to also hire the Special Prosecutor.
They further wondered how the SP is going to work independently from the AG, which would have the supervisory role and by far extend answerable to the President’s political interest.
But the Minority ranking Member on the Constitutional Committee clarified that, it was out of that fear that the Minority earlier kicked against the Bill being placed under the certificate of emergency and called for broad public consultation.
He said, the public consultation would help add voices to that of the Minority to ensure the independence, transparency and professionalism of the Special Prosecutor’s office, as that remained key to the interest of the public rather than any political office holder.
Alhaji Fuseini assured that, the Minority would continue to place close eyes on the Bill and would not allow any clause or section introduced through the back-door without the Ghanaian public input, ” stating, “if this Bill is to fight corruption we are all for it and that is why we want the right thing to be done so that in future we are not questioned.”
He further told the paper that views from the public discussion on the Bill follow suit of the Minority stance when the Bill was initially laid before parliament, emphasizing that the office of the SP must be insulated from the presidency and allowed to operate per the laws establishing it.
The two-day public/stakeholders conference on the office of the Special Prosecutor Bill brought together civil society organisations (CSOs) and individual legal practitioners, including Mr. Martin Amidu, an anti- corruption crusader, also known as “Citizen Vigilante,” and Mr. Ace Kojo Ankomah, a law lecturer at the Ghana Law School.
In his opening remarks, the chairman of the Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Ben Abdallah Bandah, said, one of the greatest dangers of corruption was the loss of public confidence in the public institutions.
He noted that the fight against corruption, therefore, could not be fought by the government, hence the establishment of the SP to spearhead the fight, adding that, “we must all be crusaders in this endeavor to fighting same.”
Globally, a special prosecutor is an individual appointed by the Justice Department to investigate a certain legal case. They are usually only used when the regular justice (Attorney General) system seems to have been compromised by the case at issue.
Currently, Singapore, South Africa, USA, Kenya and Guyana are the only few known countries actively using the Special Prosecution system to fight corruption and other related public office holders crime.
Should the SP Bill finally be passed, it means that, Ghana would be joining others in that direction, but one question many kept asking is “is this office the panacea to the corruption fight?”
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba