General News of Tuesday, 18 July 2017
The bill of the Office of the Special Prosecutor is expected to be laid on the floor of Parliament later today.
The Presentation of the bill by the Attorney General begins the process of legislative approval for the framework with which government intends to fight public sector corruption.
The Speaker of Parliament, Michael Oquaye ahead of the laying of the bill explained circumstances under which the office of the special prosecutor should be set up.
“With regards to the public prosecutor, it is something that our Constitution basically provides. That the Attorney General has a monopoly of prosecution. The only person who has the right to prosecute in their courts is the Attorney General by a constitutional provision and he may delegate. Nevertheless, when you establish a law which clearly provides for another person to prosecute, a circumstance where the Constitution says it is only the Attorney General who can prosecute then we must tread a bit carefully,” he said.
Confusion over Special Prosecutor’s office
The setting up of the office of the Special Prosecutor was one of the key campaign promises made by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo which he explained was necessary in tackling corruption related issues in the country.
There have however been varied opinions about the creation of the office. Whereas some believe it is in the right direction, the Minority Members of Parliament had threatened to go to court over the matter.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, in an earlier Citi News interview insisted that the Special Prosecutor’s office could not be established without tinkering with Article 88 of the Constitution, which deals with the role of the Attorney-General.
“…That is my understanding of the law. It belongs to the executive chapter of the constitution which is entrenched; therefore you cannot be seeking to review that through an Act of Parliament… I am certain that article 88 is entrenched, and not that which can be reviewed simply through a process of an Act of Parliament,” he explained.
Funding for special prosecutor in limbo – MP
Though the President has indicated that the office will be operational within the stipulated time, he failed to mention how government intends funding its operations.
The Chairman of Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, Ben Abdallah had earlier stated that he did not know where the funding for the office will come from although he maintained that the office “is one of the priorities of government.”
“…Government has given a deadline around the next year 2018, so let’s wait and see if the promise is not realized taking into consideration the deadline, then we will be right in taking government to task. Because as I’m talking, we don’t even know where the money will be coming from, whether it will be provided outside this budget estimates, but by the government or it’s going to come from somewhere else, we can’t tell,” he said.
“But let’s not be judgmental at this time of the day by saying that there would be a conflict of interest with respect to where government is to get funding from be it from a particular entity or individual. Probably the money will be provided for by the government itself,” he added.