The New Patriotic Party (NPP) were deemed as favourites in these categories against the National Democratic Congress (NDC), therefore, it was not surprising the least that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo won the election against John Dramani Mahama by a wide margin.
During the election campaigning, Nana Akufo-Addo promised to create an office for Special Prosecutor to aid the work of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the fight against corruption if elected.
And true to his promise, on January 11 2018, the president announced popular anti-graft campaigner, Martin Amidu as the first ever Special Prosecutor.
The announcement was greeted by excitement from most Ghanaians due to the vigorous nature Amidu fought against his party (the NDC) in the infamous judgement debt paid to businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
Martin Amidu was sacked from his role as the Attorney General under the late John Evans Atta Mills administration in 2012 for his resolve to retrieve the ‘dubious’ payment made to Woyome. The Supreme Court in 2014 ordered Mr. Woyome to pay back the money as Supreme Court judges unanimously granted the Attorney-General clearance to execute the court’s judgment, ordering Mr. Woyome to refund the cash to the state.
Following the delays in retrieving the money, Mr. Amidu in 2016, filed an application at the Supreme Court seeking to examine Alfred Woyome, on how he would pay back the money.
Based on this renegade nature of Amidu, expectations were very high for his appointment to go after supposedly corrupt government officials both in the current and erstwhile administration.
But after a year and some months, the much-anticipated Special Prosecutor’s office hasn’t lived to the high expectations of Ghanaians. From complaining about lack of legislation to prosecute to office space and to financing, Amidu’s legacy so far has been full of lamentations.
However, these complaints and requests didn’t last. In October 2018, a two-storey building was allocated to the Office of the Special Prosecutor close to the International Press Center on the Gamel Abdul Nasser Avenue at Ridge in Accra.
Also, during the 2019 budget reading by the Minister of Finance, he announced a GH¢180 million budgetary allocation to support the work of the Special Prosecutor.
Yet, Amidu and his office haven’t built a case and subsequently prosecuted any government official deemed to have misappropriated money.
This development has resulted in the call for scrapping of Amidu’s office for inefficiency as well the cast of doubts on his competence as an anti-corruption crusader.
Interestingly, these frustrated calls on the lack of Amidu’s potency has not been from opposition figures but from those in government as well.
Member of Parliament for Assin Central and a member of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kennedy Ohene Agyapong is widely known for his outspoken nature and he was one of the first people who doubted the success of the Special Prosecutor’s office.
And such criticisms have been relentless ever since. Recently, the Communications Director of the NPP and MP for Adentan, Yaw Buabeng Asamoah expressed worry over the inactivity of Amidu’s office.
Asamoah bemoaned on Starr FM in regards to how the inaction at the office of the special prosecutor is affecting public confidence in the government’s anti-corruption stance.
“I am aware that the Special Prosecutor wants to establish an institution…a solid institution that will stand the test of time,” he said, “but, I think that office should also be aware that there’s a certain public impatience about seeing something done”, he said.
Speaking on how to bridge the gap between the formal and informal sectors, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta also talked about the inactivity of Amidu’s office.
Reiterating the budget support for the Special Prosecutor, Ofori-Atta called for the aggressive pursuance of corrupt officials. He said, “We should be more aggressive about prosecution of people who took the state's money illegally.”
Members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have also been consistent in their disdain for Amidu and his office.
A former Deputy Minister for Communication, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, described his appointment as a waste of state resources. “I do not believe that there is anything special about Special Prosecutor’s Office. Indeed, I dare say that it is a special waste of time and resources given that there is absolutely nothing that this Special Prosecutors Office will do that existing state institutions like the Attorney General’s Office could not do or could not have done”, he said.
Worse, a former Deputy Minister of Trade under the John Mahama administration, Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed called for the prosecution of Amidu.
He argues that Amidu hasn't done any serious work since he was appointed yet he has been withdrawing salaries which amounts to corruption.
“This man has been chopping this money and I think he is a perfect candidate for prosecution”, he said.
According to satarist and social critic, Kwame A Plus, the NPP fell for Amidu’s bragging and he has so far lived beyond expectations.
“The NPP government fell for Amidu’s bragging and made him the special prosecutor, gave him 180 million cedis, (more than three times what Woyome is accused of taking) gave him accommodation, a huge office, V8s, saloon cars, fat salary, uniformed police officers as bodyguards, etc but he has not been able to even find the person who said tweaaaa!!!”, he wrote on Facebook.
However, in a bid to allay the fears of Ghanaians on their inactions, the office of the Special Prosecutor has disclosed that they will soon publish the cases they are working on.
The Board Chairman of the OSP, Linda Ofori Kwafo said this would be in line with SECTION 3 (3) of the OSP Act 2017 (Act 959) which mandates the office to on a quarterly basis; publish in at least two daily newspapers with nationwide circulation and on the website of the Office, what it was doing.
As to how soon this promise will be fulfilled is still unknown, but one thing is for certain: that many Ghanaians are disappointed in the slow pace of Martin Amidu and his office of the Special Prosecutor.