The nominee for Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, has served notice that he will not hesitate to cause the arrest of anyone who attempts to influence him in the discharge of his duties.
“As I have said earlier, the fact that you know me and you come to talk to me about it, I may order your arrest because under Section 239 of the Special Prosecutor’s Act, trying to directly or indirectly influence the Special Prosecutor as a Public Officer is corruption,” he warned. Amidu noted that he would not live under the control of anybody and would not allow the board of the Special Prosecutor’s Office to usurp his prosecutorial and independent investigative powers.
According to him, the Office of Special Prosecutor (OSP) will seek evidence from all sources, including what people post on the internet. He stressed that anyone who openly complains of not being rewarded in recognition of funding a political party to win elections constitutes corruption, and the OSP would not hesitate to prosecute such people.
He pledged not to entertain political influence in the work of the OSP, describing such influences as one of the greatest challenges facing the country. Amidu stated that he would be more proud of the integrity of the OSP he would leave behind compared to the number of cases to be won.
He said upon his approval, he would deal with corruption fairly and impartially, and stop the leakages and seepages of public funds. “I accepted this job for the love of the country and to stop the political elites from siphoning the country’s money abroad.
“This country is not a milking cow; [and]whether I am approved or not, I will continue to fight corruption,” the non-compromising anti-corruption campaigner said. “If you’re my brother, I will deal with you; even if I have to hire a lawyer for you, I will do it”, he added.
Amidu gave the assurance in an answer during the sitting of the Appointments Committee of Parliament. He said one of the ways to limit the spate of corruption in the country was to put in place mechanisms to close the financial leakages in the public service, adding that: “I will continue to fight corruption whether my appointment is approved or not”.
The nominee said he would try to be impartial and be the moral compass and gatekeeper “so that nobody will say that the axe is cutting one way”. The nominee said his aim as the Special Prosecutor was to establish a credible institution with a credible culture, saying: “If we succeed in establishing such an institution with a credible culture to rid corruption, we will not need foreign aid”.
Asked how he would deal with powerful cabals in government, he said if anybody commits a corruption offence, he would not be seen as a member of any political party, but would be viewed as a suspected criminal. “Crime is crime, without political correlation, and that is how the office is going to supervise if am approved.”
He, however, gave the assurance that he would work with the board and appoint independent and like-minded persons to work with, saying: “I accepted the nomination to try to eradicate corruption and hoping to work with the team to succeed”. Amidu said as a constitutional defence advocate, he would live by the legal ethics and principles of the constitution and would not be vindictive, but allow the law to work.
Focus not on populating prisons
The Special Prosecutor-nominee, Martin Amidu said he has no intentions of populating the Nsawam Prisons with public officers who are established to have engaged in corrupt practices.
The management of the Nsawam Prisons already, for him, is looking for avenues to reduce the number of prisoners under their care, and he has no intentions of adding on. “The issue is not necessarily wanting to fill Nsawam with people. One of the issues of prison administration is to reduce the number there so that we don’t spend money feeding people whom we shouldn’t feed, so I see this plea bargaining thing as a good incentive.”
In his response, he said there will be no point in imprisoning a corrupt person if “you can get the money back. I think that is better for the nation, instead of imprisoning him for 10 years, feeding him for 10 years, giving him prison clothing for 10 years, and if he is grown, he will have chronic conditions and you will be sending him to the hospital up and down and the President may be compelled to give him an early pardon.”
Reparation to be given consideration
He said those who want to make reparation for the consideration of the court and have agreed to “go and sin no more” will be considered. However, the office will “take into consideration all the grounds on which reparation must be accepted, and the reparation must be reasonable because it will eventually come to the knowledge of the people of this country.”
Reacting to a question about the GH?51.2 million wrongfully paid businessman Alfred Woyome, Amidu said the state can only retrieve the money if it sues all the people who were involved in the payment.
“Woyome cannot be prosecuted alone…we should prosecute everybody involved,” he said. He said that failings within the Attorney-General’s office contributed to Alfred Agbesi Woyome’s initial acquittals between 2012 and 2015.
Without naming any individuals, Mr Amidu was of the firm belief that Mr Woyome should have been prosecuted alongside his “accomplices”, in reference to his article titled ‘Woyome’s suspected crimes and the missing link’. “As Attorney-General, I had said that Woyome cannot be prosecuted alone and that all his accomplices must be prosecuted,” he told Parliament’s Appointments Committee during his vetting.
He further recalled that during a meeting with lawyers in the Attorney-General’s office, “they all agreed that part of the fault is from this house [the Attorney-General’s office].” Thus, Mr Amidu maintained that “if we are going to prosecute, we should prosecute everybody involved and not Woyome alone.”
“That is one of the reasons why the hoodlums hounded me so that they would not be prosecuted. So Woyome alone was prosecuted, and if you remember, in the judgement, the judge said that Woyome could not be prosecuted alone and that those who acted with him were not brought. So [John] Ajet-Nasam, who was proven to be a corrupt judge, later acquitted Woyome. “If I had prosecuted that case, together with the accomplices, the result would be different, and my perception is that the prosecution was bundled to get that guy out,” Mr Amidu added.
OSP not about status
For Martin Amidu, accepting the nomination to be the country’s first Special Prosecutor is not about attaining a high status, but about continuing his mission to rid Ghana of corruption.
He revealed that he even turned down an invitation to the Supreme Court in 1999. Attempts by the likes of Justice William Atuguba and former Speaker of Parliament, Justice Bamford Addo to convince him to accept the job were unsuccessful after the nomination by then-Chief Justice Isaac Kobina Abban.
“This is to demonstrate that my acceptance of position of Special Prosecutor is not because of the status, but because of the high ideals attached to making sure the ordinary people of this country can have the benefit of the resources of this country by stopping the leakages and seepages that have gone on since the coming to force of the 1992 constitution,” he told the Appointments Committee of Parliament.
Amidu stressed that his standing as a former chairman of the House of the Consultative Assembly for the drafting of the constitution would not allow him to sit idle while corruption festered in the state. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo nominated Mr Martin Amidu as the Special Prosecutor on January 11, 2018, to deal with public sector corruption. The nominee is subject to approval by the Appointments Committee of Parliament after vetting.
The Special Prosecutor Act mandates him to carry out the responsibility of independently fighting corruption. He will also have full authority to initiate investigations into all suspected corruption-related offences of all persons in the public service, if approved by Parliament.