I read your editorial of July 22nd, 2015, under the caption “Nana Addo Must Not Copy Predecessors”, with considerable interest. I am grateful for its comments, which reflect the importance the people of Ghana attach to the critical battle that has to be waged against the cancerous infection of widespread corruption that has engulfed our nation. I take sincerely on board your admonition to follow a different path from the past. I am writing, though, to make two points.
Firstly, it is not, with respect, true, as you state, that the NPP made a promise in its 2000 manifesto to fight corruption by decoupling the Ministry of Justice from the Office of the Attorney General, which, in the eight years of the Kufuor era, we failed to honour. None of the 2000, 2004, 2008 or 2012 manifestoes of the party contained any such promise, largely, because we [believe that the mere decoupling by itself does not significantly advance the fight.
In principle, an Attorney General, worth his or her salt, should be capable of making the independent decision to prosecute any public officer, including a fellow Minister, if the police docket establishes a prima facie case of corruption or theft of public funds. There are lots of examples of this in our own and other common law countries. Public opinion in Ghana, however, has come to view with deep suspicion the capacity of an Attorney General, who is invariably a member of the ruling party appointee! by the President of the Republic, to live up to this expectation.
Secondly, public policy in a democracy must generally be shaped by public opinion, hence my proposal, which will be a central feature of the party’s 2016 manifesto. My proposal to establish an office of a Special Prosecutor, which would be insulated from
the Executive, is to ensure that an office of state dedicated to, and focused on, the fight against corruption will become a permanent and successful feature of our state’s landscape.
As things stand, CHRAJ would appear to be the only nominally independent agency of state that has a mandate for fighting corruption. All the other agencies are a function of the Executive. However, CHRAJ is also burdened by its other mandates: human rights and administrative justice; and is plagued by the lack of direct prosecutorial powers. In my view, the other mandates of CHRAJ detract from the focus and resources required to fight corruption in any meaningful way. The idea is to hive off the anti-corruption role of CHRAJ by establishing an office dedicated to the fight against corruption, headed by a Special Prosecutor, with its own investigative capability.
The Special Prosecutor would be authorised by statute to investigate and prosecute corruption cases without recourse to the Executive. .Insulating the office from the Executive, and guaranteeing its independence by ensuring that the Special Prosecutor can only be appointed and removed through a rigorous statutory process, involving a special majority of> Parliament (i.e. 2/3 or preferably 3/4), would be key to the effectiveness of the policy.
Finally, all well-meaning Ghanaians, I believe, recognise corruption as a peculiarly serious and debilitating social and economic menace that requires a specific response. I intend to bring the required commitment and dedication to this effort, should the good people of Ghana, with the blessing of the Almighty, give me their mandate next year. It is my hope that your newspaper and other media will continue to join in such efforts in order to strengthen the proposal, and the all-important fight against corruption.
Thank you for the space.
YOURS SINCERELY NANA AKUFO-ADDO
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