Jeff Sessions’ resignation gets Amidu thinking

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The recent resignation of U.S. Attorney-General, Jeff Sessions, has gotten Ghana’s Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, pondering about the stumbling blocks in the fight against corruption.

Writing in a short article released on Thursday, November 8, 2018, the man whose unrelenting fight against corruption in his own party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), secured him the anti-graft job in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government says the events leading to Mr Sessions’ resignation is an enlightenment on how the fight against corruption does suffer systemic bottlenecks.

Mr. Amidu, a former Attorney-General himself, made the following observation in the article titled “The Whitaker scenario – Stifling independent investigative agencies of funds”:

“The Chief of Staff of the Justice Department, Matthew Whitaker, whom Jeff Session appointed in September 2017, was appointed the Acting Attorney General [after Sessions’ resignation] to the displeasure of the opposition Democrats because of the likely effect of the new acting appointment on Robert Mueller’s investigations into the allegation of Russian meddling into the 2016 US elections.

“The opposition Democrats’ fear that the new Acting Attorney General will assume full oversight over Mueller’s investigations and is demanding that like Jeff Sessions, he recuses himself from those investigations because of his previous comments on the probe.  Acting Attorney General Whitaker’s comments were made before he joined the Justice Department.

“Whitaker’s comments before Sessions appointed him to the Justice Department has just opened my eyes to how an independent investigation and prosecutorial agency such as Ghana’s Office of the Special Prosecutor can be disabled from effectively and efficiently performing its mandate without direct interference with its so-calledindependence and impartiality. “

Mr. Amidu has lamented bitterly in the past about being under-resourced to carry out his duties. His office was a creation of the incumbent NPP government as a specialised agency to investigate specific cases of corruption involving public officers and politically-exposed persons.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor was set up to also prosecute individuals in the private sector implicated in corrupt practices and to prosecute these offences on the authority of the Attorney-General.

Several months down the line, the agency has no legislative backing and Mr Amidu is not a happy man because of that.

At the National Audit Forum organised by the Ghana Audit Service, he revealed his frustrations.

“I am saying this for the public to understand that we have set up an office. We have to organise that office, have the requisite personnel. It does not take one day.

“The law says 90 days after the assumption of office of the Special Prosecutor, pursuant legislation must be enacted, but as I speak today, I have no legislation so I use my common sense,” the former Attorney-General said.

President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo responded swiftly to Mr. Amidu’s concern,perhaps dreading a possible resignation by the man who is known to be principled to the core.

“Very soon all of you will see the office is functional,” the President assured as criticism mounts against his government’s perceived feet-dragging in fight political corruption.

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