General News of Thursday, 20 July 2017
A former Deputy Attorney-General has debunked assertions the Minority is opposed to the setting up of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
If anything, Dominic Ayine said their protest is only to ensure that the due process of law is followed in the setting up of the Office.
Speaking to Joy News’ Parliamentary Correspondent Joseph Opoku Gakpo, the Bolga East MP who is also a member of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee said the party cannot be seen to be fighting against a bill that will make it easier to curb corruption.
“…The Minority is in agreement with the Majority and the government on the issue of the Special Prosecutor, particularly on the issue of the fight against corruption.
“What we are saying is that the procedural requirement of the Constitution and the standing orders must be complied with. If this is an important government Bill, if we have to enact it, we have to enact it in accordance with law. Our fight is about due process of the law,” he said.
The idea of setting up an Office of the Special Prosecutor to lead prosecutions of corrupt public and private officers was a campaign promise by then candidate Nana Akufo-Addo.
With a little over six months in office, Akufo-Addo, now president, and with an appointed Attorney-General Gloria Akuffo have been engaging stakeholders on how to draft a bill that will meet the requirements of law.
Article 88 of the 1992 Constitution puts the responsibility of prosecution under the ambit of the Attorney General and any attempt to hand over that responsibility to another agency or person must be done in accordance with law.
Already there have been mixed reactions towards government’s intentions to set up the office with some insisting any attempt to create the office will be unconstitutional.
When the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s Bill was brought before Parliament for consideration, it was not without drama and controversy.
Gloria Akuffo, Attorney General
The Minority in Parliament attempted to block the laying of the Bill because according to Dominic Ayine due process of law was not followed.
He argued for such a Bill to be laid, it had to be gazetted 14 days before it will be brought to the Parliament but that was not done.
In a quick rebuttal, the Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, argued, the Office of the Prosecutor’s Bill came to Parliament under a certificate of urgency for which reason it did not require a 14-day maturity period.
The Minority’s insistence that the bill ought to have been brought to Parliament by the Attorney-General herself and not her deputy appeared unconvincing to the Speaker who ruled that the Bill should be laid.
Some three days after laying, the controversy in Parliament does not seem to go away.
Even though it has been submitted to the Constitutional and Legal Committee for consideration, the Minority members of the committee say they were only given copies of the Bill this morning, three days after it was laid.
They have therefore asked for some time to read through the Bill.
Mr Dominic Ayine is also asking the Attorney-General to come before the Committee to explain why the Bill should be considered urgent.