Special Prosecutor bill undergoes scrutiny

The Attorney General and Minster for Justice Gloria Akuffo has presented the first draft of the Office of the Special Prosecutor bill to stakeholders to pore over government’s ‘important’ anti-corruption legislation.

She told participants at a meeting in Accra, government wants their honest and sincere views on the draft before it is laid before parliament later in the year.

The Justice Minister explained, the stakeholder meeting has been called because government recognises that the fight against corruption is not the sole prerogative nor the responsibility of any one individual.

Giving an outline of the draft, Gloria Akuffo said the office will have “full authority” to start investigations and finish prosecution of officials found to have been corrupt.

There will be no political interference or micromanagement, she touted the security of tenure to be embedded in the law.

Unlike the A-G Department, the Special Prosecutor will have no mixed mandate but a single task to fight corruption.

There will be no pussyfooting as the office will be free to prosecute corruption “expeditiously”, Gloria Akuffo noted.

The Draft Bill finds its legal inspiration from Article 35(8) of the 1992 constitution which the state shall take steps to eradicate corrupt practices and the abuse of power.

One area of abuse of power to absorb the attention of the Special Prosecutor is the public procurement sector.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has been insisting the Public Procurement Act was consistently breached by the previous government to distribute contracts to cronies.

The government has signalled it won’t be taking chances with taxpayers money in the public procurement sector.

This Special Prosecutor will not only prosecute but chase indicted officials to recover losses to the state.

Gloria Akuffo admitted the public “understandably” doubts government’s resolve to fight corruption following years of political scandals that remained unresolved.

Government has come to a conclusion reached by governance experts that because the A-G is appointed and fired at the pleasure of the president, the department is a stumbling block for a forensic fight against the canker.

Until the monopoly of the Attorney-General to initiate prosecution is broken, the fight against corruption will chalk piecemeal success, Gloria Akuffo acknowledged a popular civil society position.

She said the Akufo-Addo government shares in this conclusion hence the Special Prosecutor is a “top legislative priority” of the government.

The office is coming, she said especially because the worst affected by corruption are the poor.

“The burden of corruption falls heavily and disproportionately on the poor,” she said and stressed, the legislation is an NPP attempt to make corruption a path of great consequences for public officials.

She expressed confidence that the final law will be a sound and effective piece of legislation.

Source: Joyonline