Martin Amidu, Glory Akuffo and Haruna Iddrisu
Former Attorney-General Martin Alamisi Amidu has condemned the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) over its reaction to the release of the Delta Force 8 members by a Circuit Court in Kumasi.
The Delta Force 8, who were accused of invading a court and freeing 13 of their colleagues who were standing trial, were released after the state attorneys in Kumasi handling their case had stated that there was no evidence to prosecute them.
The minority NDC in Parliament led by Haruna Iddrisu after the news broke about the freedom granted to the Delta Force eight, hurriedly organized a press conference where they expressed their dissatisfaction about the ruling, describing the attorney general’s advice as a travesty of justice.
They therefore called for the re-arrest of the suspects and urged the President of the Republic to intervene in the matter.
The Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, through a statement issued by the Information Ministry, quickly indicated that the A-G’s office disagreed with the court decision to discharge the suspects.
However, Mr. Amidu, who was a former Attorney-General under the NDC government, in a statement, condemned the call for the re-arrest of the Delta Force 8.
According to him, “What the NDC should be doing is to furnish the police with the evidence, including the video they have to enable the police to build a better docket for prosecution instead of the unconstitutional instruction to re-arrest citizens who have been discharged by a court of law.”
“The minority NDC in parliament is acting politically and unconstitutionally in its complaints on this matter,” he said.
“The invitation to the President, a former Attorney General, to interfere in criminal prosecutions,” he said, “is capricious and unbecoming of the ideals of the National Democratic Congress.”
“I have had the privilege of reading the legal advice tendered by the Ashanti Regional Office of the Attorney General to the Ghana Police Service, Kumasi, in the case of R v Mensah Azer & 7 Others, popularly known as the 8 Delta Force Members Case, according to him.
“The advice,” Mr. Amidu known as citizen vigilante, said “is exceptional in the manner it states the facts of the case, and the evidence as disclosed upon the perusal of the police docket, and the legal opinion based on the facts and evidence on the docket.”
“The Ashanti Regional Office of the Attorney General did an excellent job expected of professional prosecuting attorneys in setting forth the legal advice in such a way that anybody wishing to replicate the methodology to find out whether or not the conclusions are valid may do so,” he stated.
According to Mr Amidu, “The offences with which the suspects were charged are not one of those cases in which standing instructions have been given to the regional offices of the Attorney-General to refer dockets to the Head Office for concurrence before the issuance of legal advice to the police.”
“The Ashanti Regional Office was therefore perfectly within the exercise of its prosecutorial discretion to deal with the case without further reference to the Attorney General in Accra,” Mr Amidu indicated.
“Consequently, the impression that the regional office of the Attorney General’s Department had to have recourse to the Attorney General simply because the suspects were alleged to be members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is dangerous for our democracy, the rule of law and the prosecutorial discretion delegated by the Attorney General to each of her prosecuting attorneys and particularly her regional representatives.”
“The Chief State Attorney heading the Ashanti Regional office has been the most senior prosecuting attorney in the Attorney General’s office since the retirement of the late Ms. Aikins as the Director of Public Prosecutions during my tenure in 2011 and must have approved the legal advice which is unassailable professionally, he explained.
“The contention that because a suspected crime involves members of a political party in power, the Attorney General must for that reason alone personally see the docket before professional attorneys advise on it, he noted “is discriminatory against other citizens.”
He explained that “this is because political and other considerations may ultimately substitute themselves for legal considerations. National Democratic Congress and New Patriotic Party members must be subject to the same standards of prosecutorial decision making as any ordinary person suspected of the commission of crime.”
“But the party of National Democratic Congress (the NDC) nonetheless wanted the attorneys to have presumed the suspects guilty and charged them for court without any evidence.”
“This is the very attitude of political interference in the constitutional duties of the Attorney General’s office which I fought against during my tenure as the Attorney General under NDC 3,” he said.
Re-arresting suspects who have contested their arrest and submitted themselves to the Republic to prove their guilt and against each of whom the Republic lacks evidence to prosecute, Mr. Amidu observed, will be inconsistent with and in contravention of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizen and accordingly unconstitutional.
“I am informed that the Attorney General was and is out of the jurisdiction which may explain the hurry to blame the professional attorneys performing their prosecutorial functions in the Ashanti Region. The suspects have only been discharged.
“Should the Attorney General be of the view that because the suspects are alleged to be NPP members, she can find the evidence to prosecute them in spite of the available docket, she has a right to call for the docket and give further directives on them, he stated.
“But let me say for the purpose of the integrity of the office of the Attorney General that it is professional misconduct on the part of an Attorney General to question the professional judgment and integrity of professional officers simply because they choose to act as lawyers and not politicians.
“The judiciary understands the presumption of innocence and the fact that only suspects against whom evidence is available may be prosecuted,” he emphasised.
BY Melvin Tarlue