General News of Wednesday, 26 July 2017
United States of America-based Ghanaian lecturer, Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare, has proposed to Attorney General to consider appointing a Special Prosecutor, clothed with full power and independent authority, to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions necessary to address those serious criminal matters in the appropriate assize to deal with alleged rot at Electoral Commission (EC).
He said the Attorney General can do this in pursuant to her power under Article 296 (c) of the 1992 constitution.
According to him, it is important for the two channels – the Article 146 and the criminal investigations to proceed simultaneously as they address separate issues and involve separate processes.
“We must learn from the mistake of the one track approach adopted in the judicial bribery case that has allowed judges to, thus far, avoid or evade criminal justice,” Asare added.
“Finally, these sad incidents highlight, once again, the need to reconsider the process by which the Commissioners are appointed and the manner in which they exercise their power.
“I have long argued that nominees to the Commission should be vetted by Parliament and only appointed if approved by a super majority. It has also been my position that the Commission’s hearing be opened to the public and their votes on all key issues be part of the public record.
“We must not miss the opportunity presented by this admittedly unhealthy crisis to reform the seriously ailing Commission,” he added.
Asare holds the view that the EC Chairwoman’s response to the anonymous petition calling for her removal makes a clear and compelling case that the Commission, as currently constituted, has become very dysfunctional and may be incapable of continuing with its core mission.
“It will be one thing if the Commissioners were having fundamental disagreements about election policy and strategy. Sadly, they seem to be fighting over V8s, refurbishment of their residences, contracts, procurements, and other financial arrangements.
“Put plainly, the disagreements revolve primarily around using their public positions to amass private wealth,” he added.
In his view, the petition and response also make it clear that the Commissioners may have committed serious financial and election crimes.
He explained that considering the Commission’s supposedly neutral role in politics coupled with the unfortunate politicization of the petition, investigating and prosecuting the alleged crimes using the normal channels create an unacceptably high level of conflict of interest.
“Yet, the criminal matters raised cannot be swept under the rug. Nor can they be sufficiently addressed by the automatically triggered Article 146 removal procedures,” he added.