Give Teeth To OPS, Not Amidu

What is important is how to build a worthy Office of Special Prosecutor (OSP), not the persona of Martin Alamisi Burns Kaiser Amidu. Yes, he is a whole institution attracting publicity and public discourses for the right and wrong reasons. But, he will retire and leave the office, unless we decide to fold it, or the Rapture occurs in these few years.

 

Failed attempts

We must aim at making it work, especially because we have a history of setting up expensive bureaus to check corruption but ending up building them into ineffective white elephants at best, or corruption-soaked organisations in themselves at worst. (1) The Office of Accountability once upon a time set up at the Presidency (2) The Whistle Blower’s Act (3) Economic and Organised Crime Office/Serious Fraud Office (4) Criminal Investigations Department of the Police Service (5) The Police Service itself. (6) Those of us growing up from the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s remember the vigilante groups set up by Sir Hilla Limann, the Citizens Vetting Committee and the People’s Courts opened by Jerry Rawlings, and; Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and Provisional National Defence Council. (7) The series of Commissions of Enquiry set up by Kutu Acheampong and Fred Akuffo’s National Redemption Council/Supreme Military Council as well as those set up by Joseph Ankrah and Amankwah Afrifa’s National Liberation Council cannot be overlooked by any serious student of the history of Ghana’ fight against corruption.

Nkrumah strengthened and controlled the courts, among other things, to get swift and deterrent penalties for corrupt officials whose sentences were famously announced on the 1:00 o’clock news by the all-powerful Radio Ghana of the 1960s.

 

Leakages, seepages

Now, all the foregone measures were originally aimed at fighting the use of public office for self-gain. But, all failed. All failed one after the other over the last 60 years, and failed such that newspaper vendors who became ministers instantly had the audacity to order golden beds for their comfort. Ministers have confessed packing cash under their beds; party chairmen have confessed going to the Presidency to load cash into their car boots to go fund their parties. Budding ministers appointed almost straight from school can carry millions of dollars to the car-washing bay for thieves to make a good fortune. Headmasters, bursars, coordinating directors, other civil servants, contractors and foreign companies delight in raping Mother Ghana because the laws lame.

Parties build universities when they ascend into government after crying, while out of power, that opposition is like hell. AD 11 walkers and Kofi-Brokeman eaters suddenly jump into the latest editions of expensive Japanese cross-country vehicles, even when their leader and President has given a firm undertaking not to order new cars for official use. Such is the level of graft and corruption in the motherland. Such is the trial and error in dealing with the canker so far, and, the desperation of President Akufo-Addo and the good people of Ghana.

 

Task ahead

That is why we should look beyond the ego of Mr. Amidu to reach out for his high level of incorruptibility. That is why we should tame his tendency towards vendetta to hold him to his word to be fair, firm and frank to all manner of people, irrespective of tribe, creed or gender. It is about building for once a conqueror of corruption.

 

Crucial ingredients

(a) We should recognise the need for an efficient corruption buster of an office. (b) All Ghanaians should play their diverse roles to establish an Office of Special Prosecutor really worth the name. We must make sure that it is formed true to the laws and spirit behind the OPS. (c) There is the overriding need for continuous public interest in, and scrutiny of, all the functions, omissions and commissions of the OPS, whether Yaw Amidu is the primus inter pares or not. (d) Cost-benefit analysis are crucial, whether the OPS is doing well or struggling; enjoying popularity or earning public ridicule.

If the Office turns out to be a mere drain on the public purse, scrap it! If it is spending more money than it retrieves or protects from plunder, don’t waste our resources any further on it. (e) Collapse all overlapping or duplicating supposed corruption-fighting organisations in due course.

Even if we have to downsise the police numbers to save money to strengthen the OPS, so be it.

 

Those who reside in glass houses should never throw stones. If businesspeople, politicians and ordinary citizens deserve prison sentences and forfeiture of property, then any OPS officials convicted for use of office for self-gain deserve live sentences, if not the gallows. That is point number (e). For (f), our governments should allow the OPS to work independently. Our Attorney Generals should avoid picking and choosing which offences

 

Ghana Today
…with A. C. Ohene

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