Another Irresponsible Attorney-General
BY: Ebenezer Hagan
Under the 1992 constitution, the Attorney-General is responsible for the initiation of all criminal prosecutions, she is also responsible for the institution and conduct of all civil cases on behalf of the State. Our constitution trusts her to do this job without fear or favor, affection or ill-will. Our constitution, though entrusting her appointment to a political authority, is blind to her political affiliation. The constitution expects that once she is elevated to that high office, she be divorced from whatever her political affiliations are and marry only, if she must, the interest of Justice. Any union between her and politics is most undesired. Chapter Twenty-Four of our constitution which contains the CODE OF CONDUCT FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS, demand that in the execution of her job as the Attorney-General, she respects the general and specific principles of the oath of her office which includes a pledge to equity, fairness, justice and best ethical practice.
It is settled learning that the powers conferred on the Attorney-General by the Constitution are powers she yields at her discretion. It is unknown in law or practice that any court would order the Attorney-General to use her powers when she does not want to. I think it falls within the general doctrine of ?political question? when it comes to the powers of an Attorney General and how she uses them. I agree therefore that she cannot be forced to do those things she feels she does not want to do- legally.
However, it is our duty, as citizens of this country, to at all times be guided by the spirit of our constitution in judging the conduct of public officials, particularly those who are entrusted with key responsibilities which at all material times affect the well- being or otherwise of no less than 23 million individuals. If it is admitted that justice is important, as I believe every average minded Ghanaian would admit, then the pillar of public justice and our criminal justice system per our constitution, which I respectfully submit as being the Attorney-General, must be held to the strictest scrutiny on conduct and ethics.
I must state that by writing this I am not playing to the gallery on the issue and I do not intend to achieve any benefit other than ensuring that those who are honored by our nation with public positions, bear their allegiance to the people and not their appointing officers. That they conduct themselves properly and diligently. The constitutional soundness of our justice system and those in charge of it must be like Caser?s wife. Anything that brings it into reproach must be cited and condemned. I repeat the often repeated dictum, justice must not only be done, it must be seen as being manifestly done.
Therefore if the person trusted with the initiation of the ?justice process? is seen as being flawed in some aspect then it must be a matter of serious concern. The Attorney General simply must not be seen as partisan in her conduct. It offends the very spirit of our constitution and insults our intelligence as a people that post Kufour, save for the Hon. Martin Amidu, all the Attorney-Generals that have been appointed have been prima facie linked to one scandal or the other. It is even worse that these persons had also wilfully refused to prosecute clear cut cases of criminality because the criminals were their political friends.
One would have thought that the current Attorney-General, who is not as much of a politician as the previous ones, was going to be different but since her swearing-in, she has shown the same signs of the previous Attorney-Generals under this administration. She has shown very clear signs of irresponsibility which although cannot be brought before a court or trusted to the oversight responsibility of parliament, due to the unnecessary political bias of the latter ,to correct, can and needs to be mentioned and commented on.
Two cases arises raises questions about the AG insofar as her responsibility is concerned. The two cases raises very serious doubts as to whether the AG is indeed capable of performing her functions without finding some frivolous cover so that she can abandon her functions like her predecessors did. First, she refused to handle the case of the three Savelungu EC officials citing as her basis, the involvement of her former chambers, Lithur, Brew and Co, in the Presidential Election Petition. Her refusal to handle the case, eventually led to the acquittal of those officers, who had confessed to fabrication of documents with the intent to mislead the court. This action by the AG, which betrayed the AG?s supposed commitment to law and justice which she pretends to advocate and which the Constitution demands she upholds.
As if that was not enough, she declined to be a part of the Bernard Mornah case citing the same reason of her involvement with the chambers of the lawyer for John Mahama. This rather pitifully empty excuse led to the Supreme Court in making a ruling which to the minds of many just cannot sit down well. Per chance, if the Attorney General had not passed the case to her deputy, who also couldn?t take the case because after Raymond Atuguba, Counsel for Monarh, was appointed Executive Secretary to the President he handed the case to him (Dominic Ayine), and she had handled the case herself, the verdict would have been more reasonable to the facts and times.
It appears that for as long as the NPP Petition lasts, the Attorney-General intends to vacate her constitutional responsibilities on frivolous excuses. My suggestion to the Attorney General is that if indeed she has cause to believe she cannot put aside her political affiliations to do a professional job when the times call for it, then she resigns from her position.
I do not think in these dangerous times Ghanaians can suffer to have such an Attorney-General who has shown clear signs of irresponsibility when her professional responsibilities mattered.