The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has called for “absolute” independence of the office of the Attorney General (AG) from the Ministry of Justice to enable it to carry out its prosecutorial functions effectively.
Nana Ofori Owusu, National Chairman of the Party who made the call at a news conference in Accra on Wednesday, said the seeming lack of separation of the office from the Ministry of Justice made it practically impossible and difficult for it to prosecute political corruption cases, especially persons from the ruling government.
Article 88 (1 and 2) of the 1992 Constitution states that: “There shall be an Attorney-General of Ghana who shall be a Minister of State and the principal legal adviser to the Government.
It also stipulates that: “The Attorney-General shall discharge such other duties of a legal nature as may be referred or assigned to him by the President, or imposed on him by this Constitution or any other law.”
Mr. Owusu, however, noted that there was a need for an immediate amendment of the Article, which made the AG also the Minister of Justice, to make it more independent and free from political interferences.
“History has shown that it has been difficult to deal with political corruption cases because the prosecution is always done by the Attorney General who is also a Minister of State,” he said.
He added that: “The result is that no AG has been able to prosecute a fellow Minister who is from the same political party. It has always been ex-government appointees and people in the private sector who are seen as political threats who are prosecuted by serving government’s Attorney General.”
Mr Owusu said that had created the perception that such cases were mere political witch-hunting.
He said the enormous powers of the AG required that he/she was separated from Cabinet to enable them to have the necessary independence to do the job without or with less political considerations.
“The PPP’s solution is that there must be an independent Attorney General, not a Special Prosecutor who is still ‘under the control’ of the AG in any way,” Mr. Owusu said.
The conference was to address some pertinent issues the Party believed were hampering the development of the country and proposed solutions to them.
The Chairman bemoaned what he said was the shirking of the check and balances responsibility on the Executive by Parliament, a situation he attributed to the infusion of the parliamentary system of government with the presidential system.
“The selection of at least 50 per cent of ministers from the legislature denies Parliament the needed brilliant human resource, which is usually selected into the executive to become ministers,” he said.
The Chairman said that limited the strength and ability of Parliament to effectively check the executive and properly hold it accountable.
“We, the citizens should as a matter of urgency, promote the campaign to amend the constitution to prevent the president from selecting 50 per cent of his ministers from amongst the members of parliament,” he said.
Mr. Owusu said MPs, who were also appointed as Ministers had little time to perform their parliamentary duties to the detriment of their constituents.
He also reiterated calls for the elections of Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executives by the citizens to facilitate development at the local levels.