An anti-corruption crusader, Vitus Azeem, says the establishment of the much talked about Special Prosecutor Office would not make any difference in the country’s fight against corruption as has been anticipated by many.
Mr Azeem who is the Executive Director for the Center for Budget Advocacy premised his argument on the appointment processes of the Special Prosecutor as contained in the Special Prosecutor bill that was passed by Parliament last Tuesday.
Per the Act, the appointment of the Special Prosecutor will be done by the President on the nomination by the Attorney-General, subject to the approval of Parliament by an absolute majority.
“…Initially during the campaign process, they [the New Patriotic Party] were talking about independent public prosecutor but as we speak it has change to special public prosecutor. That means that the person who will be appointed will not be independent,” he said.
He argued that if the position was advertised, it would help to get a truly independent person to occupy the Office, saying “We have always advocated that if you want an independent person, advertise and get people to apply train the person.’’
Earlier this month, civil society groups in Ghana have raised concerns over the appointment processes, arguing the political independence of the prosecutor to be appointed could be threatened if the mode of appointment was not revised.
According to the groups, the process under which the special prosecutor would be appointed “is insufficient to cure the challenges of political bias”.
Former CHRAJ boss, Emile Short, commenting on the issue on 3FM underscored the need for the appointment procedure of the Special Prosecutor as contained in the Act to be reviewed.
He contended that without such revision, there will still be allegations of witch haunting or criminal prosecutions when the Prosecutor begins its work.
In his view, the system of appointment of most of heads of state institutions by the President doesn’t guarantee the independence of those heads of institutions.
“Though it’s done in consultation with the council of elders, it’s the president that appoints about 11 members of the council of state’’ he said.
Meanwhile, prosecutions of public officials alleged to have engaged in corrupt practices will not begin this year as the Special Prosecutor is expected to begin its work next year with a review of all government agreements.
“The office of the AG department will operationalize the office of the special prosecutor; review all agreements for MDAs and MMDAs with the aim to secure successful convictions in the vast majority of cases referred to the office by the Police,” Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta announced Wednesday during the 2018 budget presentation to parliament.