The Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, has accused some heads of government institutions of hampering efforts by his office to clamp down on corruption in the country.
According to him, some heads were simply refusing to comply with the laid down regulations of good governance and the protection of the national purse.
“The biggest challenge facing the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) as an anti-corruption investigatory and prosecutorial body in spite of all the powers conferred upon it is not the President who promised the people of Ghana to establish the Office but the heads of institutions who simply refuse to comply with laws designed to ensure good governance and to protect the national purse by fighting corruption,” he stated.
Mr Amidu made these allegations in a write-up published in Accra yesterday.
Among other things, he said, the “heads of institutions wantonly disregard statutory requests made by the Office for information and production of documents to assist in the investigation of corruption and corruption-related offences, in spite of the fact that the President has on a number of occasions admonished them on such misconduct.”
Failure to address these impediments, he explained, would make the fight against corruption less successful and render the OSP a defeated establishment.
He said the Office would sue institutions which fail to honour requests for documents and information through the Attorney General to compel them to release documents to help in investigations.
“The OSP Act empowers the Office to enforce the production of information and documents in the courts against any public institution that fails or refuses to honour the lawful request of the Office. This Office can also go to the High Court to compel heads of institutions to obey the laws that support the fight against corruption. The consequence will be that in accordance with the civil procedure rules this Office will have to sue the Attorney General as the representative of the State.”
He stated that some agencies, whose names he did not mention in the write-up, were bent on “interfering and undermining the independence of the OSP by deliberately running concurrent investigations falling within the jurisdiction of this Office with on-going investigations in this Office for the sole purpose of aborting investigations into corruption and corruption-related offences.”
Although the OSP was working to fight corruption, he said some malfeasance had affected the ability of this Office to deliver on its mandate, particularly when it must depend on some of these very institutions for seconded staff until it employs its own.
“What is worrying to this Office as an anti-corruption investigation and prosecutorial agency is the refusal of heads of institutions to take steps to enforce basic rules of discipline governing their institutions even when they know that their officers are under investigation, have been cautioned, bailed, and eventually even charged with corruption and corruption-related offences.”
Heads of agencies, Mr Amidu, said, have refused to interdict public officers who were under investigation as required under the law.
“Unfortunately, the experience of the Office of the Special Prosecutor is that when it comes to fighting corruptions and corruption-related offences, heads of institutions think that the rules on interdiction and/or indefinite leave of public officers do not apply to corruption and corruption-related offences.”
Mr Amidu urged the public and civil society organisations to support work of the Office and put pressure on the political elite to obey the laws that enable the Office to achieve its mandate.
In an interview with Ghanaian Times, Vitus Azeem, an anti-corruption crusader, urged the Special Prosecutor to submit the names of the heads of institutions hindering the work of the Office to the President to call them to order.
He said most of the heads of institutions were under the control of the Executive which could order for cooperation or face sanctions.
On the matter of interdiction of public officers under investigations, Mr Azeem called on the Special Prosecutor to draw the attention of the heads of institutions to the provision on interdiction and educate them on its applicability.
As a public official with the mandate to end corruption in the country, he said, he understood the frustrations of Mr Amidu on the lack of cooperation from the heads of institutions and called on Ghanaians and civil society groups to fully support the Office in realisation of its objectives.