The cautionary note by House Speaker Aaron Michael Oquaye to President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, vis-à-vis the establishment of the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor, while perfectly in order was, nevertheless, rather unnecessary (See “Speaker Cautions Akufo-Addo Over Office of Special Prosecutor” MyJoyOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 7/18/17). It was wholly unnecessary because the very Article 88 of the 1992 Constitution that grants exclusive powers to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice in the conduct of the prosecution of all criminal offenses, also empowers the Attorney-General with the right to delegate some of the same prosecutorial powers to persons that s/he shall so designate.
The Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor, as the President has already noted, is not being created as a coordinate or parallel office to that of the Attorney-General. Instead, the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor would function directly under the authority of the Justice Ministry, whose head is the Attorney-General. I have already written adequately about the utmost necessity for the establishment of the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor and do not therefore deem it necessary to rehash many of the same arguments here. What is, however, significant to underscore here is the fact that in critical matters such as the Woyome Heist, for example, for the past 8 years, Attorneys-General appointed under the tandem governments of the late President John Evans Atta-Mills and former President John Dramani Mahama, both of the present main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), were scandalously unable to prosecute, primarily because the NDC’s party machine, as well as the key operatives of the same party, was neck-deep involved in this epic scamming of the Ghanaian taxpayer to the humongous tune of GH₵ 52 million.
It is this sort of conflict-of-interest prosecutorial paralysis on the part of the executive and its associates that makes the establishment of the Office of the Independent Special Prosecutor necessary and imperative. President Akufo-Addo could not have cast such imperative necessity more eloquently, when he recently observed that the Office of the Independent Special Prosecutor would render decidedly otiose and frivolous any charges of political vendetta or witch-hunting that may likely be made by members of the opposition against operatives of the ruling party or government.
Indeed, some have even begun broaching the possibility of importing a non-Ghanaian national, perhaps from the Commonwealth Region, to occupy the office, so as to ensure the ideological neutrality of the holder of such office. Of course, the possibility of having a non-Ghanaian citizen occupy the Office of the Independent Special Prosecutor is absolutely non-negotiable. Ghanaians have come too long a way not to have confidence in the integrity of our own judicial system and its legitimately constituted adjuncts and the holders of these offices.
Contrary to what Speaker Oquaye, himself a renowned and distinguished legal light, and other Ghanaian legal experts, such as Mr. Kofi Bentil, Vice-President of the IMANI-Ghana think-tank, would have the public believe, the establishment of the Office of an Independent Special Prosecutor does not need any amendment to the present Fourth-Republican Constitution, if such request, as is presently the case, is tabled in Parliament by Attorney-General Gloria Akuffo. What is also significant to observe here is the fact that both supporters and opponents of the establishment of the Office of the Independent Special Prosecutor are in perfect agreement on the need for landmark cases, such as the Woyome Affair, to be swiftly and healthily and objectively resolved or disposed of.
The establishment of the Office of the Independent Special Prosecutor best answers this unimpeachable quest for justice by Ghanaians across ethnic and ideological divides.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
July 22, 2017