The Painful and Happy Exit of the First Ever Special Prosecutor; Martin A. B. K. Amidu.
Late afternoon of Monday, November 17th 2020, marked yet another significant episode in the country’s charged political atmosphere. As is it characteristic of the country every election year, tension rise high as the two major political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), battle out fiercely in the ideological war amid accusations and counter accusations.
The tension gets higher as the general election draws near for the obvious reasons. The Ghanaian populace are always at the receiving end – of the never-ending heated debates on who performed better during their tenure in office, who performed better or worst in fighting corruption and/or perpetrating it.
For developing country like Ghana, corruption is a constant factor that feature in every election. It always take centre-stage of political discourse and is one of the determinants of election outcomes and this year’s isn’t any different. One may ask what the connection is between the Office of Special (OSP) and the politics of the country given the independence nature of the office – the common factor here, however, is corruption. The office’s mandate is primarily to investigate and prosecute acts of corruption by public officers.
Another factor is the person occupying the office as appointed by the President in 2018 – Martin Alamisi Burns Kaisser Amidu who had had a tempestuous relationship with the opposition NDC as appointee under their government. A party he has been a member of, since their PNDC days in the late 20th century.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor was birthed in controversy and has remained in same since. The events that preceded the laying of the bill in parliament and subsequent approval tells the tumult that greeted the news of his resignation on both traditional and social media. It promises to dominate the national discussion for a week or two with various permutations given to the resignation.
To the opposition NDC, it is a good relieving news as Martin’s resignation will mean his inability to settle his vendetta against them, having cited John Mahama (former president and flagbearer; NDC) and Mahama Ayariga (MP; Bawku central) as candidates for corruption investigation. Of course, they will also make a meal of corruption against the government for the obvious reasons. The timing calls for an ad hoc political feast and they are devouring with all might since the news of his resignation broke.
To the NPP, it is a bitter leaf soup. The type that no one would ordinarily go for but is shoved down their throat by circumstance. The timing of the event is ominous and therefore ignoring or not partaking in the discussion could be politically injurious. They are at the cusp of very limited options. The best therefore is the well timely response from the government.
Recall that Martin A. B. K. Amidu was appointed the first ever special prosecutor of the country in February 2018 in fulfilment of a manifesto promise in the lead up to the 2016 elections. The appointment, as expected came with controversies and even litigation (Dominic Ayine v. the Republic) challenging the capacity of Martin Amidu to occupy the newly created office.
The NDC swiftly denounced the President’s choice, citing an attempt of which-hunt uner the pretext of the special prosecutor, because of their bitter history with Martin Amidu. They believed he’d not be fair in prosecuting matters of corruption. His appointment stood against all the tide, albeit with little success after two years in office, which had the office embroiled in another controversy yet again with some section of Ghanaians calling for his resignation.
To them, he’s taking money with no work-done. It is said that the wheel of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. Nevertheless the section of Ghanaians who called for the head of the special prosecutor clearly had no patience to wait for justice to be served in proper context and standard procedure. Their hopes in Martin Amidu begun to wane since. So his resignation to these people was long overdue.
However, the irony is that the immediate past special prosecutor cited what he called “interference” in his work by the President as reason for his decision to resign. As disturbing as this allegation appear, subsequent response from the Presidency about the allegations made painted a whole different picture to the issue.
In his resignation letter, Martin Amidu’s claim of interference if put into proper context of law or legal analysis will have weak legs to stand on. What he referred to as interference has come to mean, the President actually urging the then special prosecutor to grant a hearing to the finance minister who we’d later know, according to Martin Amidu, to have been implicated for corruption.
The rule of natural justice (audi alteram partem) demand a fair hearing of all parties in a case in order to ascertain whether they are indeed complicit or otherwise in the matter in which they are charged.
In Sao v Ghana Supply Company, the petitioner established to the court that he was not giving a hearing when an internal audit was conducted so the company could not lay him out. The court in the verdict granted him the hearing after the audit report was submitted. That’s essentially what the President asked Amidu Esq. to do in order not to present a biased assessment even though it’s been completed.
If any proper assessment is conducted on the allegations contained in Mr. Amidu’s resignation letter vis-a-vis the response from the presidency. Any reasonable mind would be inclined to side with the account of the latter than that of the former. It is instructive that Martin Amidu, who is a consummate lawyer with decades of experience would refuse to grant the finance minister a fair hearing which is essential in prosecution and the practice of law.
The resignation of the special prosecutor is regrettable to those of us with sky-high hope in him. It is rather tragic an exit for the strongman we all knew. The fearless citizen vigilante who waged a lone war against the Mills and Mahama government with his personal resources until he got a verdict in his favour against the infamous Alfred Woyome. What could’ve led him to bow out, perhaps cowardly, when corruption stared at him in the face? The presidency’s response only showed a lame, overwhelmed man who’s inefficiency is evidently self-inflicted rather that the politically motivated sabotage he would have us believe.
Hopefully, the nation gets a replacement who is actually ready and committed to fighting the war against corruption with the available resources at the office’s disposal. In the end, it is a country we are building and the daunting work at hand requires every one of us contribute our very best, however insignificant, to building the prosperous Ghana we all dream about. The Ghana where our children and their children will be proud to live in.
By Mudaththir Dangaata;
GIJ – L200 (Journalism)