General News of Saturday, 29 July 2017
A private legal practitioner is putting more spokes in the wheel of government’s bid to set up an Office of Special Prosecutor which is to speed up the corruption fight.
Kwame Akuffo insists the government or president cannot allocate and distribute powers entrenched in the Constitution to individuals or offices they so choose, not even to the Special Prosecutor.
He argued forcefully the Attorney General’s department derives its powers directly from the Constitution and no one can purport to take that power away and give to another office.
Kwame Akuffo was speaking on Joy FM/MultiTV’s Newsfile programme Saturday, on the controversial attempt to create an Office of the Special Prosecutor which has been a subject of debate in Parliament this week.
“A-G is not a lawyer to the president. We must all accept that…She is the legal advisor to the government and owes allegiance to the Constitution,” he said.
The setting up of the office is in fulfillment of a campaign promise by the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential election.
The office is to lead the prosecution of suspected corrupt officials in the most independent manner without government interference or the appearance of it.
Previous prosecutions of public officers by incumbent governments have been greeted with allegations of witch-hunting.
President Akufo-Addo is hoping the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor will take away the perception or reality of partisanship in the area of public prosecution.
But the attempt to set up the Office has suffered a hitch in Parliament after the Minority vehemently raised issues of procedural breaches.
They argued the Bill ought to have gone through the 14-day mandatory period of maturity after gazetting and publication before being laid.
A former Deputy Attorney-General under the John Mahama administration Dr. Dominic Ayine argued on the floor of Parliament, government had breached parliamentary procedures in laying the document on the floor.
He would not accept the argument that the bill was laid under a certificate of urgency.
The Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ruled that the Bill did not qualify to be laid under a certificate of urgency.
The Bill was therefore withdrawn.
Discussing the matter on Newsfile, Kwame Akuffo said he does not understand why the Office of the Special prosecutor should have the same privileges as the Attorney-General.
He said under the current laws of the country there is no need for a Special Prosecutor. What the country needs is for the Attorney General’s office to be strengthened, he argued.
Citing the example of Martin Amidu and the late president John Mills, the legal practitioner said Amidu realized that he was not in office as the lawyer of the president and that he owed his allegiance to the Constitution.
With that knowledge, he said Martin prosecuted the case against Woyome even when the government machinery and the president were against it.
He said the new Attorney General must take a cue and work as independently as possible without fear or favour.
When that is done there will be no need for a Special Prosecutor, he noted.
Even though he is all for the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Malik Kweku Baako Jnr who was also on Newsfile admitted that the arguments by Mr Akuffo make sense.
He encouraged him to send a memorandum to the Attorney General to help in the crafting of the law for the new office.
“We have lost the battle against corruption almost terminally,” he stated, adding the new office may just be the opportunity for a better fight against corruption.