General News of Friday, 28 July 2017
A Former Deputy Attorney-General and Minority spokesperson on legal affairs is demanding changes to the Special Prosecutor Bill to make the office accountable to the Attorney-General.
Dominic Ayine also wants the bill to meet the constitutional requirement and standing orders of Parliament before his side of the House supports its passage into an Act.
The NPP promised to set up the Office of the Special Prosecutor when voted into power as one of the effective measures to tackle the endemic corruption in the country.
The bill was laid before Parliament but was withdrawn after the Minority Parliament raised concerns that it was not gazetted 14 days before being laid as required by law.
Order 120 (1) of the Standing Orders of the House, which is premised on Article 106 (2) of the Constitution states that “Except as provided in Orders 119 and 112 no Bill shall be introduced unless the text of the Bill, with no variations other than such as, in the opinion of the Parliamentary Draftsman, are of a trivial or drafting character, has been published in the Gazette fourteen days before the date of its introduction in the House.”
The Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu July 26, 2017, withdrew the Special Prosecutor Bill without explaining the motive behind his action.
Speaking on JoyFM, Mr Ayine said the Minority is not against the establishment of the office, rather they want the right things done to ensure among others that the bill is not used as a tool to witch-hunt former government appointees under President Mahama.
Meanwhile, a former Attorney General Martin Amidu has quizzed certain aspects of the Special Prosecutor Bill.
In his view, Clause 3 (3) and (4) of the Bill, which was not in the original draft designed by stakeholders, including Civil Society Organizations, limits the powers of the special prosecutor.
He said, the inclusion of the clause “negates the whole promise that the President made during his campaign and after his assumption of office to fight corruption.”
The clauses indicate that “…specified under paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of subsection (1) unless the commission of the offence is in respect of a vast quantity of assets that (a) constitute a substantial proportion of the resources of the country; (b) threaten the political stability of the country; or (c) threaten the sustainable development of the country.”
He further added that President Nana Akufo-Addo is being set up to be embarrassed by some faceless persons who clandestinely introduced the clauses into the special prosecutor’s Bill to limit the prosecutor’s ability to investigate certain kinds of corrupt activities.