Special Prosecutor resignation furore at a glance

This country set up the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) with the hope that it can deal with grand corruption of politically exposed persons; and, for a long time we waited for the OSP to bite. Therefore, it was refreshing when Mr Amidu released the report of an analysis of the risk of corruption in the Agyapa Minerals Royalties transaction. 

It was instructive because it was the first time that an independent anti-corruption agency established by any government in Ghana had undertaken an analysis of the risk of corruption and anti-corruption risk assessment of the processes leading up to the approval by parliament of public agreements as part of its statutory mandate.

Alas! The celebration lasted for only two weeks. On Monday, 16th November 2020, Mr Martin A.B.K. Amidu resigned from his post as Special Prosecutor. On Tuesday, President Akufo-Addo, through Chief of Staff Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, wrote back to Mr Amidu to accept his resignation. 

The history of Amidu’s tenure as Special Prosecutor

Having gained fame for his role as the “citizen vigilante,’ Mr Amidu was sworn into office as Special Prosecutor on 23rd February 2018. This means he was in office for 33 months. It has now emerged that Mr Amidu received a formal appointment letter on 5th February 2020, almost two years after assuming office. 

During his tenure, Mr Amidu frequently lamented about the lack of support for his office, including inadequate financial resourcing, inadequate office space for staff and understaffing, which had compelled him to work with a small number of seconded staff. In addition, he accused some of his seconded staff of working against the interest of the State. Perhaps, the biggest of his frustrations was interference in his work, which he touched on in his resignation letter to President Akufo-Addo on Monday. 

Mr Amidu had begun prosecuting two cases involving Mr Mahama Ayariga, Member of Parliament for Bawku Central and had indicated he was conducting a number of other investigations including the infamous alleged Airbus bribery saga, the galamsey fraud case, the ex-PPA boss alleged procurement corruption case, alleged MPs double salary scandal, etc. 

Now, he has drawn worldwide attention for staging a grand resignation that has brought two key issues to the fore; first is the independence of the OSP going forward while the second is the integrity of state investigators. 

Interference with the independence of SP

Mr Amidu accused President Akufo-Addo directly in his letter of resignation that “…your reaction to my letter…conveying to you the conclusions and observations of the analysis of the risk of corruption and anti-corruption assessment of the Agyapa Royalties Limited Transactions convinces me beyond every reasonable doubt that you had laboured under the mistaken belief that I could hold the Office of the Special Prosecutor as your poodle.” 

The antecedent is that the former Special Prosecutor had decided on 10th September 2020 to invoke the mandate of the OSP to prevent corruption and proceeded to undertake the analysis of the risk of corruption in the Agyapa deal. The Special Prosecutor’s conclusions from the assessment include that there is reasonable suspicion of bid rigging in favour of Databank of Ghana – a firm that was formed by current finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta.

Still on the matter of interference, Mr Amidu further accuses the president of attempting to prosecute partisan agenda. According to Mr Amidu, it became “abundantly clear to me that I cannot continue under your Government as the Special Prosecutor because we disagree on the non-partisan independence of the Special Prosecutor in the performance of the functions of my Office in preventing and fighting corruption and corruption-related offences.”

In addition, Mr Amidu stated in a public announcement of his resignation from office that his life was at stake because of his work on the Agyapa deal. “The events of 12th November 2020 [death of former President Rawlings] removed the only protection I had from the threats and plans directed at me for undertaking the Agyapa Royalties Limited Transactions anti-corruption assessment report and dictates that I resign as the Special Prosecutor immediately. Fear is the enemy of change and I am prepared from the vacuum created on 12th November 2020 to meet the threats of my demise as the price to pay for serving my country without fear or favour affection or ill will…”

In addition, he also claims that his work was impeded because authorities “made no efforts to honour any of the conditions of appointment in terms of emoluments and benefits of the appointment ever since my warrant of appointment was issued…” 

This is contrary to news reports that Mr Amidu ‘drew salary’ from the presidency and was offered sitting allowances for six meetings, which he ‘rejected’ on grounds that they were not justifiable.  

Corruption Watch has also become aware that in February 2019, Mr Amidu approved a “monthly operational enhancement allowance” for himself and his deputy. He wrote in an internal memo that “…I have exercised my discretion in deciding that until further notice each month the Special Prosecutor should be given an operational enhancement allowance of GHC10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Ghana Cedis only) and the Deputy Special Prosecutor should receive GHC5,000.00 (Five Thousand Ghana Cedis only) to meet those functional duty allowances.” Corruption Watch, however, cannot confirm whether Mr Amidu and his deputy actually received these funds.

Alleged tainted integrity of some state investigators

Moving on to matters bothering on the integrity of investigators, Mr Amidu has suggested that some state investigators have been compromised. In a 13th November, 2020 document updating the public on the case of the sacked PPA boss, Adjenim Boateng Adjei, Mr Amidu claimed that two investigators seconded to the OSP had been compromised. “The resolution of the Adjenim Boateng Adjei case was taking too long to investigate because my seconded staff investigators appeared compromised,” he alleged. 

Presidency responds

Twenty-four hours after Mr Amidu detailed his frustrations, the presidency responded in a 40-point reply to Mr Amidu that was signed by Nana Bediatuo Asante, Secretary to the President. “We note, however, that, even before the President had been given the opportunity to react to the contents of your four (4) page Letter, it had been put into the public domain prior to receipt by the President. I am directed by the President to respond to correct the errors of fact contained in your Letter in order to provide a complete public record of the issues,” Bediatuo Asante wrote.

On alleged interference with the independence and freedom of action of the Special Prosecutor, Bediatuo Asante responded as follows: “At the outset, it must be made clear that throughout your tenure s Special Prosecutor, neither the President nor any member of his government has interfered or sought to interfere with your work.” He added that “Your accusation of interference with your functions simply on account of the meeting the President held with you is perplexing…It is difficult to find any tangible basis for the claim of political interference in the performance of your functions from 20 October, 2020 to 1 November, 2020. The President’s meetings with you and the request for you to give the public officers a hearing cannot sincerely or properly give rise to such an allegation. 

Source: Frederick ASIAMAH, Journalist, Corruption Watch

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