Akufo-Addo’s lawyer calls EOCO, CID, BNI investigators lazy

General News of Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Source: theheraldghana.com

2018-11-06

Lawyer Akoto Ampaw

One of the lawyers of President Akufo-Addo, has attacked investigators at the Police Criminal Instigations Department (CID), the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), Economic Organization Crime Office (EOCO) and others, as not living up to the expectation of the government in gathering evidence and building dockets on appointees of the Mahama administration.

Lawyer Akoto Ampaw, suggested that the laziness of the state investigators, is making government’s fight against corruption very difficult.

Mr Ampaw, said this while hitting hard at the supporters of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), who are demanding the flesh of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo, for failing to jail elements of the erstwhile John Mahama administration.

He charged “The first question that the foot soldiers and all those who honestly and wholeheartedly support the fight against corruption in Ghana ought to ask is: have the bodies charged under the law to carry out investigations done their job and submitted compelling dockets for the A-G to review the evidence in the light of the law so as to conclude that there is sufficient legal evidence, not political platform or beer bar evidence, to mount a successful or, at the very least credible, criminal prosecutions? The answer to that question is, in my respectful view, a resounding NO! They have not. And without such legal ammunition, there is little the Attorney-General can do”.

But it has been argued that, the government has no credible evidence to put up a strong criminal case against the appointees and jail them. It has also been argued that the ongoing trials, are political trials merely staged to appease NPP foot soldiers.

“Without such docket or report”, Mr Ampaw charged “not even the most competent and committed Attorney-General in the world can be effective and procure conviction of persons charged with looting the state.

But in a write-up which has gone viral, the no nonsense Akoto Ampaw charged, “the first thing to note is that it is one thing to make allegations of corruption against one’s political opponents on the campaign trail and quite another to initiate criminal prosecution in a court of law”.

This he explained was, “so because criminal prosecution is not based on allegations made on campaign platforms, but based on cogent and convincing evidence that is established through meticulous investigation and, above all, which can meet the acid test of legal evidence”.

An NPP group under the name, ‘Coalition of NPP Foot SoldiersAgainst Corruption’ had argued that the failure of Ms. Gloria Akuffo, to prosecute Mahama’s appointees, smacks of incompetence on her part, reason she should be dismissed from the Akufo-Addo government.

The demand for the sacking of the Attorney-General, has been growing lately with even Presidential Staffers, including Samuel Bryan Buabeng, Nana Hesse Ogyiri and others inside the Flagstaff House, publicly asking for the NPP tough woman to be axed from the ministry, because she has failed to jail her political opponent over alleged corruption.

Indeed, John Kumah, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP), has also decried the slow pace of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice’s office at prosecuting appointees of the previous government, saying it was unacceptable.

Mr Kuma, who is a lawyer by profession, said it was painful to accept that since the NPP came to power, people it accused while in opposition have not been tried and jailed.

Speaking on Metro television’s Good Morning Ghana weeks ago, the law practitioner, said it would be proper for the Justice Minister to up her game, as the grassroots were getting agitated.

He advised Ms. Akuffo, to come out and publicly admit if there isn’t any credible facts about the numerous allegations that were leveled against their political opponents while in opposition, so that those who have those allegations still hanged around their necks, can heave a sigh of relief.

The NEIP boss, said assurance by a Deputy Attorney General, Joseph Kpemka, last year that the Ministry, was on course and that it would start prosecution after that year’s legal vacation in October, has since not been fulfilled.

Mr Kumah, who appeared disappointed, said in the event that the AG fails to prosecute these appointees of former President Mahama, the alleged corrupt persons, should take steps to sue the AG.

The NEIP boss, said this when he was reacting to news report that the NDC diverted moneys meant for building of hospitals into research to assess the then President’s chances for the 2016 general elections.

He said, all the revelations about the NDC would amount to nothing if the party and government are unable to send very credible evidence to the court for prosecution.

Mr Kumah, said it was painful for people to be accused and almost two years into the administration of the NPP, most of these people, are still walking free while those mandated with the responsibility to see to their prosecution, remain quiet.

The NPP Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin South, Rev. Ntim Fordjour, had also over the period expressed similar sentiment.

The legislator, said many a times, he was unable to fault the NDC, when issues bothering on corruption of the previous government are made, because his party has failed woefully to prosecute them. He said, the delay tactic was rather hurting the NPP and the government.

But in reaction to the pressure, Akoto Ampaw, who was a key member of the President Akufo-Addo’s team of lawyers that went to court with the election petition after the 2012 Presidential election said, “they completely miss the point and expose their ignorance of what is involved in criminal prosecution and the Attorney-General’s role and function in that process”.

The allegation was that there was a list of corruption cases that the NPP, while in opposition and on the campaign trail in 2016 had shouted it would investigate and ensure those implicated, are made to face the full rigours of the law, should it be voted into office.

The complaint of the ‘NPP FootsoldiersAgainst Corruption’ was that after almost two years of the NPP in power, there was very little to show for the numerous corruption cases NPP alleged on the campaign trail in 2016. The group, therefore, concludes that, either the Attorney-General and his deputies are not interested in prosecuting the list of cases or they are incompetent, adding “the foot soldiers accordingly make the ominous appeal to the President “to order (sic!) the Attorney-General to live up to expectation or sack her and her lieutenants”!.

According to him, he had seen a recent press release said to be from a group of people calling themselves “Coalition of NPP FootsoldiersAgainst Corruption”. The release, which is doing the rounds on social media, is titled ‘Gloria Akuffo Must Start Prosecuting or Leave Post’.

Indeed, when I saw the name of the group that is said to have issued the statement, “Coalition of NPP FootsoldiersAgainst Corruption”, my first reaction was to burst out into a loud and long laughter interspersed with uncontrollable chuckling. Ghana politics and foot soldiers I said in amusement!!I then proceeded to read the press release, and went through a series of mood swings – from laughter, and amusement, through disbelief and, by the time I had finished reading the press release, visceral anger.

The allegation was that there was a list of corruption cases that the NPP, while in opposition and on the campaign trail in 2016 had shouted it would investigate and ensure those implicated, are made to face the full rigours of the law, should it be voted into office.

The complaint of the ‘NPP FootsoldiersAgainst Corruption’ was that after almost two years of the NPP in power, there was very little to show for the numerous corruption cases NPP alleged on the campaign trail in 2016. The group, therefore, concludes that either the Attorney-General and his deputies are not interested in prosecuting the list of cases or they are incompetent.

The foot soldiers accordingly make the ominous appeal to the President “to order (sic!) the Attorney-General to live up to expectation or sack her and her lieutenants”!

According to him, the “frustrated” NPP supporters must understand that it is not the function of the AG to conduct criminal investigations.

“The second issue that our frustrated foot soldiers need to understand is that it is not the function of the Attorney-General to conduct criminal investigations. That rather falls within the purview and function of the state investigative bodies, foremost among which are the Ghana Police Service, the Bureau of National Investigations, Economic and Organised Crime Office, and the Financial Intelligence Centre, as well as the new Office of the Special Prosecutor, that is, after government has fully resourced that office with competent investigators, auditors, lawyers, experts in international financial transactions, and accountants all of whose integrity can, within limits be, vouched for”.

In this regard, the private legal practitioner noted that “….it is only after such bodies have effectively and successfully carried out their job of investigating the allegations of corruption, which you have listed in your press release, that a docket is prepared for the attention of the Attorney-General to review. Then when upon review, she is satisfied that there is a prima facie case, based on the evidence uncovered by the investigations, she initiates criminal prosecution”.

He accused the governing party supporters of political bad faith, when they claim there is very little to show for the corruption cases about which they sang on the 2016 campaign trail.

“Again, the foot soldiers expose either their ignorance or political bad faith when they claim there is very little to show for the corruption cases about which they sang on the 2016 campaign trail. Currently, the Attorney-General is prosecuting simultaneously three major corruption cases – the National Communication Authority case, the Cocobod case and the SSNIT case”.

He suspected that, the Foot soldiers were doing the bidding of the others who want Ms. Akuffo out of the government, thus deploying a dangerous Machiavellian conspiracy against legal ethics.

“The Footsoldiers against Corruption can be forgiven their naked display of ignorance of the law and what it takes to mount a successful criminal prosecution. But others who are well informed of the intricacies and complexities of especially white collar crime should know better. For I have reason to believe that it is these others, who are hiding in the shadows and using the unsuspecting foot soldiers as pawns in what is no more than a dangerous Machiavellian conspiracy to oust the Attorney-General from office”.

“It is these who have provoked my anger and indignation and have forced me to speak out my mind on this matter of principle. They should know better! They should know that the role of the Attorney-General, in our jurisprudence and, especially under the Constitution of the Republic, cannot be likened to that of the inquisition. And it is not by accident the Attorney-General is the only minister of state specifically named in our Constitution”.

He praised the minister saying “as the competent and worthy Attorney-General she is, Miss Gloria AfuaAkuffo ought not to see herself as a political hatchet woman that uses the awesome prosecutorial powers of the state to hunt down political opponents. I am sorry, but this is not the role the Constitution and the law have carved out for the office of the Attorney-General. Rather she must be convinced in accordance with the ethics of the legal profession that there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction of persons she charges with the commission of criminal offence or that there is what is referred to as a prima facie case that the accused persons must answer before a court of law”.

To him, the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt applies to the Attorney-General work during a criminal trial.

“…the A-G, like any other prosecutor, must prove her case against the accused persons beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, where an accused person succeeds in raising a reasonable doubt in the mind of the judge of fact and law as to whether or not he committed the offence, the judge or court is bound by law to acquit and discharge the accused”.

This he said explains “why, in the absence of a docket that that shows that, on the evidence available, there is a prima facie case to be answered by the accused, it is foolhardy and imprudent (unwise) for any Attorney-General to rush to court to prosecute the list of cases the foot soldiers and their ventriloquist are complaining the Attorney-General has failed to prosecute”.

“No Attorney-General worth her or his salt will do that”, he said, adding “and I know, that the current Attorney-General, a competent and ethically disciplined professional that she is, will not rush to court with cases that have not chance of procuring a conviction simply in response to party political pressure and to satisfy the baying of misguided elements like ‘the Footsoldiers Against Corruption”. That is not the role of the Attorney-General in our Republic and under the Constitution, 2018.

According to Mr Ampaw, President Akufo-Addo “knows this very well and that is why I do not expect him to bow to such base pressures”.

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