President Nana Akufo-Addo has sworn in Martin Amidu as Ghana’s first Special Prosecutor.
Mr. Amidu was sworn in today [Friday] at the Flagstaff House in the presence of the Vice President, Chief of Staff, Attorney General and other government officials.
After Mr. Amidu had been sworn in, President Akufo-Addo reminded him of the high expectations of the citizenry.
“The Ghanaian people expect the office of the special prosecutor to rise to the challenge and to the occasion, and collaborate with other existing law enforcement agencies to fight relentlessly and help eliminate corruption in our public life.”
“We expect the special prosecutor to discharge his duties vigorously with courage without fear or favour, ill will or malice, in accordance with the rule of law,” the President added.
President Akufo-Addo also said the support of Ghanaians and Parliament justified his acceptance of Mr. Amidu for the office.
“The overwhelming popular acceptance by the good people of Ghana and the strong consensus approval by Parliament of Mr. Amidu’s nomination justifies the confidence I repose in him. Indeed, his eloquence and grasp of issues displayed to the public during his recent vetting is further testimony of the soundness of his appointment.”
The former Attorney General received unanimous approval from Parliament earlier this week, despite a pending suit at the Supreme Court over his eligibility for the position.
The Deputy Ranking Member on Constitutional Affairs, Dr. Dominic Ayine, is seeking a declaration that Mr. Amidu, who is 66-years-old, cannot hold public office because he has exceeded the mandated age limit per the 1992 constitution.
In his argument, he said the Office of the Special Prosecutor falls under the broad category of public officers who by the constitution must retire by age 60 with a possible extension to 65 years.
He is seeking declaration that “by a true and proper interpretation of Article 190(1)(d),199(1,)199(4) and 295 of the 1992 Constitution, the retirement age of all holders of public office created pursuant to Article(1)(d) is 60 years, anyhow not beyond (65).”
Martin Amidu was vetted by the Appointments Committee on February 15, 2018, in a sitting that exceeded 7 hours.
Mr. Amidu’s nomination for the position received overwhelming support from the public with many citing his integrity as the most important attribute.
Mr. Amidu, nicknamed the ‘Citizen Vigilante’ for his no-nonsense approach to corruption was nominated by President Akufo-Addo on January 11, 2018, after an emergency cabinet meeting at the Flagstaff House.
He is a known member of the opposition National Democratic Congress and has been very critical of the Mahama administration because of the perceived tolerance of corruption within that administration.
Major promise fulfilled
The setting up of the office of the Special Prosecutor was one of the key campaign promises made by President Akufo-Addo ahead of his election victory in 2016 and it is aimed at tackling corruption.
When operational, the Special Prosecutor’s office will be independent of the Executive, which observers believe will allow it to adequately deal with corruption-related issues which have plagued past governments.
The office of the Special Prosecutor will have the mandate to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged corruption under the Public Procurement Act 203 Act 63 and other corruption-related offences implicating public officers, political office holders and their accomplices in the public sector.
The Prosecutor will also be mandated to trace and recover the proceeds of corruption.
About Martin Amidu
Martin A. B. K. Amidu was the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice from January 2011 till January 2012 under the late President John Evans Atta-Mills.
Amidu, a member of the NDC, served as the Deputy Attorney-General for about the last four years of the Provisional National Defence Council military government.
After civilian rule was established in the Fourth Republic in January 1993, he continued to serve in the government of Jerry Rawlings as Deputy Attorney-General. This he did for both terms lasting eight years until January 2001.
In the December 2000 presidential elections, he stood as the running mate of John Atta Mills. They both however lost to President John Kufuor that year.
In January 2010, following a cabinet reshuffle, President Mills replaced Cletus Avoka with Martin Amidu as the Minister for Interior. As Amidu is a Builsa, some people raised questions as to his neutrality in dealing with the Bawku conflict. He, however, went successfully through vetting by the Parliament of Ghana and has since assumed his post.
Following the second major cabinet reshuffle by President Mills, Amidu became the Attorney general and Minister for Justice of Ghana.
Removal from Office
Martin Amidu was relieved of his post on Thursday, January 19, 2012, by President John Evans Atta Mills under circumstances described by aids as ‘his misconduct’ at a meeting chaired by the president at the Osu Castle on January 18, 2012.
He made allegations relating to alleged financial impropriety on the part of another cabinet minister, allegations he was asked by the president to substantiate.
Martin Amidu, the former Attorney General, single-handedly challenged the legality of the payments after being relieved off his post at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in 2014 ordered Mr. Woyome to pay back the money as Supreme Court judges unanimously granted the Attorney-General clearance to execute the court’s judgment, ordering Mr. Woyome to refund the cash to the state.
Following the delays in retrieving the money, Mr. Amidu in 2016, filed an application at the Supreme Court seeking to examine Alfred Woyome, on how he would pay back the money, after the Attorney General’s office under the Mahama Administration, led by the former Minister for Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, discontinued a similar application.
In February 2017 however, Mr. Amidu withdrew his suit seeking an oral examination, explaining that the change of government under the New Patriotic Party under His Excellency the President, Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo and his Attorney General, Miss Gloria Akuffo’s assurance to retrieve all judgment debts wrongfully paid to individuals Mr. Woyome in response prayed the Supreme Court to stay proceedings on the oral examination since he had filed for a review on the case.
By: Eugenia Tenkorang/citifmonline.com/Ghana