Private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, has criticised aspects of a reaction by the Office of the Special Prosecutor to a petition demanding it to investigate alleged acts of corruption in the fight against illegal mining.
Mr Kpebu says while the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, gives some cogent reasons for declining to investigate “thievery and corruption” allegations in the petition by the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), he erred in the last paragraph of his response.
The paragraph in Mr Amidu’s statement that the human rights activist and lawyer was referring to reads: “A review of your letter of complaint, however, has led this office to the conclusion that the facts and conjectures upon which you underpin your complaints do not raise any issues of corruption and corruption-related offences as narrowly defined under section 79 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959) to warrant an investigation by this office.”
Commenting on the matter on MultiTV/Joy FM’s current affairs programme, Newsfie, Mr Kpebu said the reference to “facts and conjectures” in that part of Mr Amidu’s response is evidence that the Special Prosecutor needs a more powerful authority – than the board of the Office of the Special Prosecutor – to check excesses in the conduct of his office.
“Mr Amidu shouldn’t have written that. You see, we need somebody stronger than him to reign him in,” Mr Kpebu said.
ASEPA petitioned Mr Amidu’s office to investigate alleged acts of thievery and corruption hindering the fight against illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey.
But the Office explained that it cannot establish acts of corruption or corrupt related offences as mandated by its binding law to commence investigations.
Mr Amidu also explained that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service has long commenced investigations into the same allegations, hence, there was no need to institute another probe into the matter.
That part of Mr Amidu’s response, Mr Kpebu commended highly.
“Don’t forget that the Ghanaian context is that we don’t have so much resources. It is not like the American situation where, in the Russian collusion, you had about 17 state institutions investigating it. In Ghana, we don’t have that much money. So if the CID has taken the lead, and we have all seen the tape [of the alleged corruption between government officials involved in the fight against galamsey]; we have heard it. So we expect that there will be a prosecution. Because listening to the tape it looks and there is a prima facie case, I dare say,” Mr Kpebu said.
Mr Kpebu said Mr Amidu’s decision to allow the CID to investigate the matter promotes the needed cooperation between government agencies in the fight against graft.
“Let’s not forget that under section 73 of his [Office of the Special Prosecutor] Act; it talks about cooperation with other public institutions. Even 73 (1) states that ‘the Office may conduct investigations in cooperation with other public institutions…’ so I am looking at it that to the extent that he says that the CID has gone far [with investigations],” Kpebu added.
– Photo: Martin Amidu is the Special Prosecutor
He said unless the petitioners – who have expressed disappointment that the Special Prosecutor’s Office declined to investigate the matter – have evidence to challenge that there is an ongoing investigation by CID, then they should wait for the end of the ongoing probe.
“Remember, investigating is one thing. Prosecuting is another. So if they [CID] finish, they may well say, ‘well, Amidu you do the prosecution,’” Mr Kpebu stated.
He also said Mr Amidu already has a lot on his plate so it becomes difficult, under limited resources, for him to take on new cases.