President Nana Akufo-Addo is hopeful that the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor will negate the fears of political witch hunts anytime governments try to pursue acts of corruption particularly involving opposition politicians.
“Anytime a politician is stigmatized for criminal conduct, the which hunting chorus rises from their [the pursuing government’s] political opponents,” the President noted at a forum at Cambridge University in London.
A government may have adequate evidence to pursue a case against persons affiliated with its opposition, but President Akufo-Addo lamented that “instead of the matter being dealt on its merits, the cry comes, they are witch hunting their opponents.”
It is for this reason that he said the New Patriotic Party government is setting up the Office of the Special Prosecutor, which “as much as possible is insulated from executive control.”
“We have crafted this creature who will be independent of the executive, will not have to take instructions from the Attorney General, would not have to take instruction from the President, and will decide for themselves who to prosecute and who not to prosecute.”
The President further noted that, his government is hoping to find a “person of stature, of independence of mind and spirit, and good and sound knowledge of the law to fill that office, and then we leave the issues of enforcement of the rules and regulation to that person.”
Plan to tackle corruption
The setting up of the office of the Special Prosecutor was one of the key campaign promises made by President Akufo-Addo ahead of his election victory in 2016 and it is aimed at tackling corruption.
Observers have noted that the seeming independence of the Special Prosecutor’s office will adequately deal with corruption-related issues which have plagued past governments.
Parliament passed the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill after its third reading last week, and the Bill is expected to, among other things, define the modalities for the appointment and operations of the Special Prosecutor.
The office of the Special Prosecutor will have the mandate to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged corruption under the Public Procurement Act 203 Act 63 and other corruption-related offenses implicating public officers, political office holders and their accomplices in the public sector.
Witch hunt fears remain
Despite the intentions of the NPP government, the opposition National Democratic Congress still harbours fears that the Special Prosecutor will still be a tool for targeting the opposition.
NDC MP and the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Inusah Fuseini said the Office of the Special Prosecutor was open to abuse.
“We have always had that fear. The Minority has always had the fear that this office can be used to witch-hunt political opponents,” Inusah Fuseini said to Citi News.