Former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, has condemned what he described as the “knight-errant roaming” of arresting citizens perceived to have tainted property by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP).
According to him, Ghanaians must wake up to the fact that the OSP is gradually being turned by Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, into an inquisitorial institution. He revealed that Mr Agyebeng is not handing the office as an anti-corruption law enforcement and prosecutorial office envisaged under sections 2 and 3 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959).
Moreover, he indicated that the statement issued by the Special Prosecutor equally gives “grave concern” and emphasizes its inquisitorial approach to law enforcement.
As a consequent, Mr Amidu called on Ghanaians to appreciate the circumscribed limits of the power and authority of the OSP to investigate specified corruption and corruption-related offences.
“The jurisdiction of the OSP is strictly provided for under the Act. Kissi Agyebeng cannot, therefore turn the OSP into a knight-errant roaming about arresting and searching the premises of citizens for tainted property based on its own ideals of what constitutes a corruption or corruption-related offence which is not rooted under section 79 of Act 959…”Martin Amidu
Justifying his stance, Mr Amidu stated that the Special Prosecutor without any reasonable grounds to suspect Cecilia Dapaah of having committed or about to commit a corruption or corruption-related offence, abused his authority by arresting her and searching the premises of her husband.
He noted that the subsequent fishing for evidence of a corruption offence amidst “media funfair and publicity”, doesn’t pose a good look on the Office. Owing to this, he indicated that the High Court on 31st August 2023, refused to allow Mr Agyebeng to profit from his “unlawful fishing expedition”.
“The OSP under Kissi Agyebeng now turns around by his press release dated 5 September 2023 to depend upon the evidence he obtained by unlawful means. His application for confirmation was refused by the High Court which purports to designate the subject matter of his failed application to the Court as tainted property again under section 32(1) (a) of Act 959, without stating the specific corruption offence he is investigating against the suspect and how the property became tainted property.”Martin Amidu
Furthermore, Mr Amidu explained that the absence of the certified true copy of the High Court decision dated 31st August 2023, constrains his ability to make a detailed and comprehensive critique of what appears to be an arbitrary and unconstitutional conduct of the OSP.
“Suffice it, however, to say that the maintenance of law and order through law enforcement institutions under any regime of the rule of law and democratic governance is anchored upon the independence, impartiality, and the highest standards of ethics and morality in the investigation of every citizen suspected of the commission of specified crimes prescribed by law.”Martin Amidu
Politicization of criminal cases
Furthermore, Mr Amidu revealed that Mr Agyebeng appears to have personalized and politicized the investigation of the Cecilia Dapaah case as though he has a hidden agenda to use her to prove his competence as a Special Prosecutor.
Citing an instance, Mr Amidu highlighted that Mr Agyebeng used the OSP to violate the constitutional rights of citizens involved in the Labianca case. He explained that the OSP achieved it by making unlawful findings and seizures of assets without any decision or order of a court of law.
Additionally, he expressed that the OSP abused Professor Frimpong-Boateng’s right to the presumption of innocence, indicating that it is now the turn of Cecilia Dapaah.
“I do not remember ever meeting or knowing Cecilia Dapaah or her husband. But like every citizen of Ghana, she is entitled to a fair and impartial investigation in accordance with the Constitution and laws of Ghana. Her innocence or guilt should be determined by a court of law and not a court of public opinion as the Special Prosecutor has consistently done even with his latest press release that also seeks to pressurize the High Court to confirm the latest administrative freezing of her assets and investments when he makes his next application for confirmation.”Martin Amidu
Meanwhile, the former Special Prosecutor emphasized that citizen suspected of committing any crime prescribed by law is entitled not only to his privacy but his constitutional right. Among others, he stated that such a person has the right to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.