The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) was established in 2018 as the gold standard and flagship specialized independent anti-corruption institution in Ghana, in pursuance of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
The OSP has the object of investigating and prosecuting specific cases of alleged or suspected corruption and corruption-related offences in the public and private sectors, recovering the proceeds of such acts by disgorging illicit and unexplained wealth and taking steps to prevent corruption.
The specialized attribute of the OSP particularly lies in the fortification with the cure of the inadequacies of the existing anti-corruption agencies by being designed as a comprehensive anti-graft agency with investigative, prosecutorial, intelligence gathering, surveillance, and counter-surveillance, police, national security, and revenue-generating powers.
The OSP derives its powers mainly from the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2-17 (Act 959), Office of the Special Prosecutor Regulations, 2018 (L. I. 2373), Office of the Special Prosecutor (Operations) Regulations, 2018 (L. I. 2374), and other laws nearing on the suppression and repression of corruption.
In addition to taking its own initiative, the OSP also receives and acts on referrals of investigations of alleged corruption and corruption-related offenses from Parliament, the Auditor-General, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, the Economic and Organised Crime Office, and any other public institution. The Office also receives and acts on complaints from private entities and individuals. (OSP.GOV.GH)
The state and non-state partners of the OSP include the Parliament of Ghana, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Ghana’s Audit Service, Ghana’s Financial Intelligence Centre, the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), the Ministry of National Security, the Office of the Attorney-General & Ministry of Justice, the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ghana’s Ministry of Finance, Ghana Police Service, CDD-Ghana, and the Ghana Integrity Initiative (local chapter of Transparency International). (OSP.GOV.GH)
The OSP Governing Board consists of the Special Prosecutor, the Deputy Special Prosecutor, six institutional representatives from six (6) public anti-corruption, security and intelligence agencies, not below the rank of Director nominated by the heads of the respective agencies, and one (1) other person who is female representing the anti-corruption Civil Society Organizations. The Board elects its own chairperson from amongst its members other than the Special Prosecutor and the Deputy Special Prosecutor to achieve its objects.
One of the core functions of the OSP is the recovery and management of the proceeds of corruption and corruption-related offences. This mandate is aimed at disgorging illicit and unexplained wealth in the public and private sectors. This power, however, is invoked especially in cases where a person’s lawful income appears inadequate as compared to his / her known and suspected assets. (OSP.GOV.GH)
The OSP exercises authority and power in its asset recovery and management function, where (a) the officers of the OSP exercise the power of a police officer, including the power of arrest; (b) the OSP has the mandate to require information in writing from a person whose affairs are being investigated by the Office, or a person who is a proper person to assist with an investigation being conducted by the Office; (c) the OSP may also require such a person to appear before the Special Prosecutor or an authorized officer to answer questions; (d) a person who turns down a request for information or turns down a request to appear before the Special Prosecutor or an authorized officer without lawful excuse commits a misdemeanor; (e) an unauthorized officer of the OSP is mandated to seize property that he / she reasonably suspects to be tainted; (f) the special prosecutor may confiscate property or render a pecuniary penalty upon application to the High Court; and (g) the OSP is also mandated to require a person to disclose his / her funds and other assets, amongst others. (OSP.GOV.GH)
I have gone to this extent as I recall the current live soap opera of the ‘DONALD J. TRUMP FAMILY SHOW’, the former President of the USA, as they play out by the moment on various global and American television in recent times.
If you were not part of the generation, who were captivated by the ESMERALDA soap opera that ran on the TV3 Network, then under the management of the Malaysians; when in the event of a general lights out, homes without generators, would drive, find their way and or go by trotro or taxis to the premises of the network to watch the episodes on big screens, specially set up to accommodate the invading audience – then you have missed Ghana’s own golden age.
It was more like the peak of OSOFO DADZIE SHOW on the black & white GBC Television then. Those were the days before DSTV or any additional television channels or private networks in Ghana.
A SOAP OPERA is a series of television or radio programmes about the daily events in the lives and problems of a particular group of characters like the live ‘FAMILY, FRIENDS & CRONIES SHOW’, currently ongoing in this country, and otherwise called and known as the ‘AGYAPADIE CONCERT SHOWTIME’, except this show is not restricted to radio and television only as we witness its unfolding by the second, minute, hour, day, week, fortnight, month, and years: for the past six plus years.
Over the last six years, I have watched in extreme shock and bewilderment at the silences of many prominent Ghanaians and civil societies/organizations, including some of the clergy and particularly those who under different administrations, would have shouted to the high heavens on all manner of malfeasances, plain thievery of public purses, and yet as a nation and as a people, we seem to have condescended into the abyss of accepting the canker of corruption as the new norm and the acceptable way of the Ghanaian show of extravagant lifestyles.
The funny part of what is gradually becoming the new yardstick or benchmark, is the extent of its pervasiveness amongst even school children, especially as nowadays parents have developed the knack or dexterity for paying for their children to be appointed, elected and or selected as CLASS OR SCHOOL MONITORS & PREFECTS at the basic – kindergarten, primary, junior (JHS) / senior high schools (SHS). No wonder the state of corruption in our body politick would not in any way end soon, especially under the current presidency as the provision of every social service has been weaponized to the extent that ‘there is no free lunch’ anywhere now; not even the queuing at any state premises for a service as people pay to be allowed to join queues of any sort.
To the ordinary Ghanaian, what is even more sickening is the open show of wanton opulence of the fruits of corruption by the ruling and or political class, knowing that even when the acts are established with their evidences presented to the body that should prosecute same within the ambit of the law or by the Special Prosecutor, the end-result would be different within all forms of technicalities.
If we all know what and how our current politics and politicians are impacting education in Ghana; the feeling that one does not have to be brilliantly educated or schooled in the best of educational institutions to become a politician with the best of networks to siphon off state funds for personal enrichment; the realization that the more educated a politician is, the more the tendency to be more corrupt or sly, cunning, crafty, deceitful, treacherous, conniving, shrewd, disingenuous, and canny; is beginning to frighten many a Ghanaian.
One of the tricks of the trade is also to say something to indict an opponent, leave it hanging for years without closure as a ‘Sword of Damocles’ has suddenly become a weapon in our politics: you remember the famous ‘AIRBUS Scandal’ – sometimes I wonder when it would be ever laid to rest finally. The Special Prosecutor should name the person now or forever hold his peace.
Truth be told, under the sixth President of the 4th Republic of Ghana, the issues of corruption, cash-for-appointments, award of contracts without taking cognizance of ‘conflict of interest’ situations, which were formerly frowned on under the same Fourth Republic, has now become ‘NORMS’ that a Minister of Finance’s companies that he has majority interest in and people of his party will think and accept same as normal and not scandalous.
Sincerely, how could we get it so wrong as a nation and as a people?
However, what coincidence between Ghana now and the USA, under the Presidency of Donald J. Trump, with his own version of ‘FAMILY AND FRIENDS’ administration?
The only difference is that whilst there is no INDEMNITY of any sort for former President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America (USA) as it exists under the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, even in its limited form, he is liable for all the sins he, his families and cronies have committed during his term of office, especially where he did not offer himself any IMMUNITY nor can he enjoy any semblance of same. It means with Donald J. Trump; he cannot enjoy any exemption from criminal prosecution or legal liability or punishment on any or certain conditions; nor any special privilege granting him nor any member of his family immunity.
You know, in the USA, STATE PROSECUTORS are elected on their own personal manifestos or programmes they would pursue, especially as they relate to FIGHTING CRIMES of all sorts in their States of residence; or any SPECIAL PROSECUTOR as appointed by the Attorney-General, who is also appointed by the President of the United States of America (USA); however such a Special Prosecutor, when so appointed, does not owe any allegiance to any appointing authority person or office than the law and the terms of reference (TOR) of his / her appointment.
Indeed, I am looking forward to amendments of the laws relating to the OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR ACT, 2-17 (Act 959), Office of the Special Prosecutor Regulations, 2018 (L. I. 2373), Office of the Special Prosecutor (Operations) Regulations, 2018 (L. I. 2374), and other laws nearing on the suppression and repression of corruption; as they relate to the term of office and mode of elections and definitely, not by the nomination by the President of the Republic and confirmation by the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana.
What I am proposing is the ELECTION OF SPECIAL PROSECUTOR for broader national crimes plus the ELECTION OF REGIONAL SPECIAL PROSECUTORS for the sixteen regions of Ghana, offering themselves by the same rules as they relate to the ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT for the 275 (two hundred and seventy-five) constituencies, except that the relevant portions of the ‘Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2-17 (Act 959) shall apply.
The Regional Special Prosecutors, who shall be resident in their respective regions, shall fight crimes within those respective regions, whilst the Special Prosecutor shall concern the office with such crimes of national in nature and character, including across regions and national in character, plus those of international or across borders.
They shall hold office for a term of four (4) years as Members of Parliament and the Presidency but sworn in by the Right Honourable Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament as owing allegiance to the People and the State rather than to any Presidency. Their elections shall run as with the Presidency and Members of Parliament and shall be for a 4-year term of office.
Such an act shall also go with the complete cancellation of any indemnity for the Presidency so that we can curb acts of ‘Family & Friends’ now and the future, with all the attendant high incidences of corruption.
I sincerely wish I am the current Special Prosecutor; I would have set up a special unit for the BOOMING HOUSING UNDUSTRY, knowing that that is where corrupt politicians, chief directors and chief accountants of ministries, departments and commissions are vesting the looted monies and or proceeds from corrupt acts, and embezzlements.
Have you ever wondered why almost every political person wants and desires employment at these state or public institutions; and why the current government has employed the all-time record for the civil and public services or state institutions of all shape and sizes, including consultants of all sorts?
Once we realize that even the President of the Republic is not above the law, both whilst in office and after term of office, we would have started the healing process of a Ghana Rebirth, towards our Centennial Celebrations in 2057.