The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has apparently been gripped with fear and panic since President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo gave presidential assent to the bill that establishes the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
Anti-corruption bodies have lauded the signing of the bill into law as they believe that it can go a long way to reducing or uprooting corruption in the public sector.
Members of the NDC fear that the alleged corrupt acts of some of them would not be ignored by the special prosecutor.
When it is established, the Office of the Special Prosecutor will be one of the fulfillments of major promises of Nana Akufo-Addo in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
Former President John Dramani Mahama, whose administration many alleged corruption scandals rocked, has tasked members of the party to stand behind his former appointees who might be summoned for any corruption trial.
When speaking at the 36th anniversary celebration of the 31st December, 1981 ‘revolution’ in Ho, the Volta Region, Mr. Mahama said, “Recently, President Akufo-Addo was threatening members of our administration with prosecution when he visited the Eastern Region and I said yes, we are prepared to accept the probity of our tenure in office.
“Having been the disciples of probity and accountability, we must not run away from probity and accountability; we must be prepared to face any prosecution that this government throws to us, but we must do this with commitment and solidarity.”
Mr. Mahama expressed further, “They will have their day in court and until they have that day in court, it is our duty to solidarize with them to make sure they have the best legal representation to be able to put their case in order; and it is my wish that things will turn out well for them.”
The former president charged President Akufo-Addo to also pursue corrupt officials in the current administration saying, “Let me point out that the easiest part in the fight against corruption is prosecuting your political opponent. It does not take courage; it does not take bravery to prosecute one’s political opponent.
“The true test in the fight against corruption is holding your own people accountable when they go wrong… We must not pursue post-regime accountability; we must pursue accountability while your regime exists.”
Mr Mahama urged members of the opposition party not to let the Office of the Special Prosecutor scare them, despite the threats by some political commentators that the office would jail his appointees.
Addressing a gathering of NDC activists at Techiman in the Brong-Ahafo Region on Saturday as part of his supposed campaign strategy to lead the party again in 2020 dubbed, ‘Unity Walk,’ Mr Dramani Mahama hinted, “We the members of NDC are not scared – whether Special Prosecutor, Attorney General or state attorney, we are not scared.”
However, Deputy General Secretary of the opposition party, Koku Anyidoho, in reaction to Mr. Mahama’s call for solidarity, warned the supporters of the party not to storm the courtrooms to support any officials of the Mahama administration who might be facing prosecution for alleged corruption.
According to him, the relatives and friends of those officials could do that but not the entire party and its supporters. “Why should I wake up in the morning and say a particular individual has been sent to court so I must follow him to court? he quizzed.
“Of course, such persons have families, friends and loved ones who are free to follow them to court, and, of course, who may want to follow them to court, and nothing stops them, but to mass up as party executives, stop our jobs and follow them to court, no,” he added.
Mr. Anyidoho, speaking with Accra-based Kasapa FM, said he didn’t know any past government appointee under former President Mahama to be corrupt hence, the assertion attributed to him could not be accurate.
He said the party is ready to solidarize with its members in court when the NPP starts witch-hunting them. “We as a party will solidarize with our people; we’ll not buy into the propaganda of the NPP. The NPP will not use the courts to divert our attention from our reorganization exercise,” he averred.
The General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, indicated that appointees of the Akufo-Addo government must rather be frightened by the coming of the special prosecutor and not members of the NDC.
He said, “If there is a group of people who should fear the coming of the special prosecutor, it should be the NPP and not the NDC. Killing one’s enemy is not difficult, but having to kill one’s relative is. All this while, governments come into power and hound members of the previous administration, but this time around there’s going to be a paradigm shift.”
It Won’t Be Independent
Even though the name of the special prosecutor has not been mentioned yet, members of the NDC have argued that the office could not be independent since the prosecutor would certainly be someone aligned to the NPP.
Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia argued, “I want to remind them that if they are going to appoint another NPP lawyer as the independent prosecutor, then you would have wasted the nation’s time and resources in making that law.”
However, Acting Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party, Freddie Blay, has explained that the Office of the Special Prosecutor would be free from any interference, adding that not even the president would be able to meddle in the affairs of the office.
“It will not be subject to any control by anybody – not even the president’s office – and that is what the president has decided will happen,” he pointed out.
Speaking on the ‘Ekosii Sen’ programme on Asempa FM in Accra, the acting National Chairman of the party said the government would do everything possible to make the office independent.
Mr. Blay hinted, “When the person is appointed, the appointment is supposed to be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny; parliament will agree to it by overwhelming majority…we want to make it independent just like in other countries. We all have to work towards that to make sure it succeeds.”
Meanwhile, Vice President Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia has said he is optimistic that the Special Prosecutor Act will be an active instrument in fighting corruption and ensuring the prudent use of state resources.
He noted, “The signing of the Special Prosecutor Bill into law is a significant step in the president’s determination to fight corruption in the public life of our dear nation. Both past and present public officers will be under the microscope to account for their actions and inactions.”
BY Daniel Bampoe