General News of Thursday, 19 November 2020
Law lecturer, Justice Srem-Sai, has said the Presidency has confirmed, rather than refute, allegations that it was interfering in the work of the Special Prosecutor.
The law lecturer at the Law Faculty of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) said a letter from the Presidency which sought to deny allegations by Martin Amidu that there was “political interference” from President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his corruption risk assessment on the Agyapa Royalties agreement – a deal that was spearheaded by the Finance Ministry – rather provided strong evidence to support that allegation.
“The evidence is in the President’s own nine-page letter. For example, if you look at the letter, you realise that the President actually accepted a response from the Minister of Finance and was willing to pass that response to the Special Prosecutor; and I am wondering what actually empowered the President to believe that he is supposed to take a response from the Finance Minister and hand it over to the Special Prosecutor?” Mr Srem-Sai said Wednesday, November 18, on a current affairs programme on Citi TV.
Mr Amidu’s corruption risk assessment report cited the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, and one of his deputies, Charles Adu-Boahen, of breaching key procurement laws in establishing the Agyapa Royalties deal.
Mr Amidu resigned from the anti-corruption office on Monday as the first Special Prosecutor, accusing President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of “political interference” that impeded his work on the Agyapa Royalties corruption risk assessment.
He also claimed he was denied key logistics and accommodation that would enable him to perform his functions appropriately.
But in a nine-page response, the Presidency denied any form of interference.
“Throughout your tenure as Special Prosecutor, neither the President nor any member of his government has interfered or sought to interfere with your work,” Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante stated in a nine-page letter that responded to numerous allegations by Mr Amidu.
However, discussing the matter Citi TV, Mr Srem-Sai, who is also an Executive Fellow at the Institute of Law & Public Affairs, said another evidence that there was significant Executive interference is in how some agencies under the Presidency interacted with the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
“If you look at the President’s explanation of the support he gave to the Special Prosecutor, you will notice from the start that there seems to be an overwhelming involvement of the Chief-of-Staff in the establishment of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, and that is worrisome.
“Because the Office of the Chief-of-Staff is directly under the President’s office and so any work by the Chief of Staff is actually the work of the President. When the Special Prosecutor’s office was set up, one of the key issues that came up was his independence. So, I got worried when I read the President’s response and over and over again, you see the Chief of Staff actually present in everything that was done.
“It was as if there was this understanding at the Presidency that they have a direct responsibility… in the day-to-day running of the Office of the Special Prosecutor – for example, they were paying light bills, they were paying water bills and collection of refuse was being paid from the President’s Office,” he said.
He alluded that it is clear that there was a mistaken belief by the Presidency that it needed to do whatever it takes to keep the office running.
Justice Srem-Sai said this may have caused the Presidency to breach the legal provisions of non-interference in the work of Office of the Special Prosecutor.
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