Thursday, 27 July 2017

To Have An Effective Anti-Corruption Czar Parliament Must Remove Clause 3 Sub-Clause 4 From the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017

It is said that the price of freedon is eternal vigilance. That is why we must  monitor all the people around President Akufo-Addo closely - for whiles many who know him can vouch for the president's incorruptible nature those around him are mostly unknown quantities.

The sly and selfish individuals in the system who successfuly smuggled Clause 3 sub-clause 4 into the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 - which  has now apparently been withdrawn from Parliament - were clearly seeking to thwart President Akufo-Addo's plans to root out high-level corruption in our homeland Ghana.

It will be interesting to know what the views of the gentleman appointed as the first Independent Special Prosecutor, Mr. Akoto Ampaw,  are,  on this  latest self-seeking outrage by our vampire-elites.

For the sake of  our country, this all-important matter must definitely be on the radar screens of good governance  activist groups such as OccupyGhana, too.

But be that as it may, it ought to be obvious to all those in Ghana who are discerning enough and can think for themselves that ultimately, our nation's vampire-elites actually seek to mentally enslave ordinary Ghanaians - as the only way that they can successfully  transfer assets that belong to all Ghanaians to a powerful few with greedy ambitions is through corruption  -  to paraphrase President Kwame Nkrumah.

In light of his exposure of the potential effects of the latest actions and inactions of our vampire-elites - regarding the attempt to insert Clause 3 sub-clause 4 into the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 - our nation owes a large debt of gratitude to Hon. Martin Amidu.

As many Ghanaians are aware, Hon. Martin Amidu is that rare thing in our national life  today  - a truly principled  gentleman in the upper reaches of Ghanaian society: who is prepared to take the system on to expose acts of egregious high-level corruption.

Over the years he has shown clearly that he genuinely abhors corruption - and is prepared to go to great lengths to fight it regardless of the cost to him personally: both emotionally and financially.

By alerting the world about the insertion of the pernicious Clause 3 sub-clause 4 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 that literally  negates the whole purpose for which  President Akufo-Addo promised to establish a dedicated office, which will be an independent body clothed with the power to investigate and prosecute all acts of corruption in Ghana - which is precisely what then candidate Akufo-Addo promised voters during the 2016 presidential election campaign - Hon. Martin Amidu has shown once again that he actually cares about the  plight  of ordinary Ghanaians and is a well-intentioned politician who seeks the well-being of our nation at all material times.

Discerning and independent-minded Ghanaians  who care about good governance  - and  therfore demand  accountability from our ruling elites - ought to thank Martin Amidu for exposing the unpardonable  attempt to turn the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor (OSPP) into a toothless bulldog that will not be able to prosecute  certain categories  of acts of corruption in Ghana.

For the benefit of this blog's many readers we are publishing the said public statement issued by Hon. Martin Amidu below, to enable them see what is at stake and how passage of the bill into law  as it now stands - with the abominable  Clause 3 sub-clause 4 of the Bill - will end up making the Office of the Independent Special Public Prosecutor a mere  paper tiger.

We must all make sure - at the stage when stakeholder contributions are elicited again from the general public - that that does not happen:  by demanding and ensuring that Clause 3 is removed and the original draft bill restored for passage into law.

Please read on:


"LET’S NOT UNDERMINE THE PRESIDENT’S FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR’S BILL: BY MARTIN A. B. K. AMIDU

When it became clear to me that We the People might not be allowed our democratic right to participate in the discourse leading to the enactment of the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor Bill, 2017 I raced against time to hurriedly research and write a lengthy constitutional and legal critique of the Bill. Now that Parliament has vetoed taking the Bill through a certificate of urgency I will publish my views at the appropriate time when the parliamentary time table for public input is known. I was, however, shocked particularly by Clause 3 sub-clause 4 of the Bill which makes the whole Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 a waste of public resources and everybody’s time.

Clause 3(4) undermines the President’s exemplary rhetoric since his assumption of office to relentlessly fight against all forms of corruption. Somebody must be sabotaging the President’s fight against corruption. What you will read hereunder relates only to Clause 3 which deals with the functions of the office. It demonstrates what has happened to Presidents who intend the good of their people and nations but were led astray by minders and appointees with clearly different and opposite criminal objectives. My purpose of publishing this out of my critique of the Bill as a whole is to alert the public to take a keen interest in the passage of the Bill through Parliament so that Ghanaians are not shortchanged in the actualization of the promise by the President to fight corruption as corruption and crime as crime.

THE FUNCTIONS OF THE OFFICE – CLAUSE 3 OF THE BILL

The original draft Bill submitted for discussions at the Stakeholders’ Meeting of 27-28th June 2017 did not include the new Clause 3 (3) and (4). Sub-clause (3) that was added to the Bill before Parliament is with respect unnecessary, it will be a waste of public funds during the gestation period particularly and it is too populist to be enshrined in the law.

Clause 3(4) which was also not part of the original draft of the Bill, negates the whole promise that the President made during his campaign and after his assumption of office to fight corruption, if as it states the Special Prosecutor is not to investigate and prosecute corruption offences relating to the Public Procurement Act, 2003 and the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 “....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.”

First and foremost, sub-clause 4 of Clause 3 of the Bill before Parliament lays down vague and ambiguous exceptions for the purposes of determining which corruption offences will meet those standards for investigations to begin within the first place. Secondly, the vagueness and ambiguity of the exceptions made, provide an argument to be overcome by the Special Prosecutor when the objection is raised in Court that his decision to prosecute a corruption offence does not meet the threshold standard stipulated in the Bill.

Thirdly, the attempt to distinguish the types of corruption offences that may be investigated and prosecuted by the Special Prosecutor sends the clear message to Ghanaians that the President and his Government now accept certain types of corruption offences as not serious for prosecution, or at least to be prosecuted by the Special Prosecutor. Fourth, the question may be asked, who will be responsible for investigating and prosecuting categories of corruption offences by the same public officers and politically exposed persons not meeting the standards in Clause 3(4). Or are they then immune from prosecution for such corruption offences? And fifth, there is no rational reason for having two types of prosecutors for the same corruption offence when committed by the same public officers. I will return to this in due course to show that the exemption grants immunity to public officers from being prosecuted for committing the exempted corruption offences.

The President has been clear throughout his campaign and on assumption of office that the canker of corruption must be fought and uprooted through a Special Public Prosecutor. He has said time without number that crime is the crime and therefore corruption is corruption. So how come the Bill that was submitted to the Stakeholders’ Meeting on 27-28th June 2017 did not contain this exception, but the exception found its way into the Bill after it apparently returned from the Cabinet to Parliament? The Stakeholders’ Meeting of anti-corruption organizations and civil society, I am reliably informed, did not insert sub-clauses 3 and 4 of Clause 3 now appearing in the Bill before Parliament. The original draft Bill, after taking into account the suggestions of the stakeholders was approved by the Cabinet. Was it, therefore, the Cabinet who sought to nullify the fight against corruption by inserting this negation of the purpose of the Bill?

Whosoever inserted sub-clause 4 of Clause 3 thought they were being ingenuous as we the foolish people of Ghana will not notice that the definition of “corruption and corruption related offence” ceded to the Special Prosecutor in the interpretation at Clause 77 of the Bill includes all corruption offences without exception or degree of seriousness. Therefore to exclude a species of corruption offences as they sought to do simply means that there would be no institution responsible for the prosecution of the so-called corruption offences that do not fall under the sub- clause 4 exceptions. It follows that the Cabinet or whosoever inserted the sub-clause is legalizing an undefined species of corruption as not being serious corruption - namely constituting a substantial portion of national resources, threatening the stability of the country, or threatening the sustainable development of the country - to warrant prosecution ever or at all.

We are doing no honour to our obligations as a nation under the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the African Union Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption (AUC).

The serious reader will notice from the Bill before Parliament that the consequential amendments in Clause 78 (1) also remove the offence of corruption from the jurisdiction of the Economic and Organised Crime Office when it states that: “The Economic and Organised Crime Office Act, 2010 (Act 804) is amended in section 74 by the deletion the words “corruption and bribery” in paragraph (a) of the definition of serious offence.” Who then will investigate the species of corruption the Government has removed from the Special Prosecutor’s functions by the insertion in Clause 3(4) of the Bill before Parliament? This whole exception is a negation of the President’s fight against all forms of corruption in the body politic by using public office holders and politically exposed persons as an example. Will somebody call the President’s attention to read Clause 3 of the Bill before Parliament and confirm whether he endorsed the exception in sub-clause 4 for submission to Parliament? The retention of sub-clause 4 of Clause 3 of the Bill makes it unnecessary to enact any Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill into law.

CONCLUSIONS

I have no doubt that the insertion of Clause 3(4) that negates the whole Bill before Parliament was done to enable those proponents to harvest their shameless perceived share of the proceeds of corruption that dishonest appointees criminally exploit in public office. These may be men and women who might have wormed their way into public office by deceiving the President about their credentials of integrity and honour to render loyal service to him and the Republic of Ghana.

The insertion of Clause 3(4) in the Bill should therefore be a wake-up call for the President to watch his incorruptible appointees, because as the saying goes, it is not all that glitters which is gold. I am of the strong conviction that the attempt to pull a fast one on Ghanaians by the insertion of Clause 3(4) into the Bill to negate the fight against corruption is the work of a strong and powerful cabal within the government because they even succeeded in ensuring that the memorandum to the Bill was silent on this important insertion so that it will not catch the eye of the casual Ghanaian reading public. Bribery and corruption is bribery and corruption.

We cannot justify any form of corruption. The 1992 Constitution did not make any exception when it prohibited corruption and enjoined every citizen to fight corruption. The exceptions in Clause 3(4) of the Bill are consequently unconstitutional.

Somebody should have known or realized that those insertions would embarrass the President in the promises he made to Ghanaians to fight corruption and prevented their insertion in the Bill."

End of culled public statement on the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor Bill, 2017, laid before Parliament and later withdrawn, which was  issued recently by Hon. Martin Amidu.

   
   
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