It has emerged that the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, spent close to three years literally roaming the streets of Accra in search of a “suitable” office complex for his use while doing little work as far as investigating serious corruption cases is concerned.
His search and fight for a suitable office complex per documents available to DGN Online started right from the day he was appointed in 2018.
Mr Amidu tendered in his resignation letter to President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday, November 16, 2020, citing among other things, the Government’s failure to provide him a better Office complex to carry out his investigative works as done internationally.
He also complained that no office accommodation was provided for his office making him to operate from a rented three-bed house at Labone with his nine staff.
But it has turned out that every necessary efforts were made by the Government to give Mr. Amidu his desired office and facilities to work as a Special Prosecutor.
Every rules were bent in order to accommodate Martin Amidu desires including taking over GETFund’s 10-storey building complex which it was renting for $2 million a year.
According to the documents Mr. Amidu went from turning down one property to the other even after he had in some cases expressed interest in some of those office buildings and steps had been taken to renovate them to suit his taste.
A memo from the Chief Director, Office of the President dated August 18, 2020 and addressed to the Chief of Staff, gave a chronology of events that transpired as far as securing a suitable office for Mr Amidu, was concerned.
Other documents from available to DGN Online have also revealed how discussions for the acquisition of an office block for the Office of the Special Prosecutor took place.
The Memo revealed how the Office of the President had several engagements and/or collaboration with the Office of the Special Prosecutor to assist him discharge his mandate.
According to the memo, at a meeting held in the Office of the Chief of Staff on September 17, 2018, at which the Special Prosecutor was present, ways of addressing the teething challenges confronting the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) were discussed.
The memo revealed that during the meeting, it was agreed that the Chief of Staff would assist to resolve urgent issues militating against the take-off of the OSP.
Scouting For Office
Again, the memo indicated that at that meeting, a committee was set up to identify a suitable building to be used as Office of the Special Prosecutor, adding that the Committee together with the Deputy Chief of Staff started the search the next day, September 18, 2020, and on the same day a cluster of buildings of one two-storey building and two single-storey buildings were identified opposite the Bank Hospital at Cantonments.
It said the Committee together with the Deputy Chief of Staff, the Special Prosecutor, the Secretary to the Special Prosecutor along with some staff from the OSP, and a team from the Ministry of Works and Housing inspected the buildings on September 20, 2018.
It said after the inspection, the Special Prosecutor expressed desire to use the premises as his office.
According to the memo, the team from the Ministry of Works and Housing immediately took measurement of the buildings and was ready to do the necessary alterations on them to befit the status of the OSP, saying that “the AESL was also invited by the Office of the Special Prosecutor on 21st September, 2018 to inspect and expedite action on the renovation works.”
However, on the 4th October, 2018 the Special Prosecutor made a phone call to the Chief of Staff and stated that he had identified a building belonging to the defunct GNTC close to the British High Commission at Ringway Estates and indicated his preference for the defunct GNTC building instead of the cluster of buildings at Cantonments.
The chief of staff iimmediately acted on.
It said “following this request by the Special Prosecutor, the Chief of Staff by a letter dated October 4, 2018, instructed the Ministry of Trade and Industry to release the building and the Ministry accordingly obliged”.
It said in order to secure the property and use it as the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the Office of the President found it expedient to erect a fence wall around the building to ward off encroachers while due processes were initiated to award the contract.
Interestingly, it said while the renovation of the GNTC building was ongoing, the Special Prosecutor “halted the process and requested that a ten (10)-storey Office complex Building at Ridge belonging to the GETFund be renovated for him for occupation. The Office again obliged.”
The Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) property in question is on plot 25 at Haile Selassie South Street, Ridge, Accra.
It added that further to a meeting by the Deputy Chief of Staff with the Office of the Special Prosecutor and GETFund on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at the Office of the President to discuss the roadmap for the renovation of the GETFund Building, a team of representatives from the above-mentioned Institutions including CONSAR Limited and Evans-Anfom & Associates met on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 to conduct a joint inventory and inspection of the facility.
Accordingly, during the inspection, some defects were identified and documented for repair works.
“It should be noted that though the liability period for the GETFund building elapsed per the contract agreement between GETFund and CONSAR Limited, the latter agreed to repair all defects and restore the building to its original state.”
“As of 14th May, 2020, Consar Ltd. completed the remedial works on the building”.
The documents showed that on July 10, 2020, the Office of the Special Prosecutor wrote to the Office of the President to inform the Presidency that its procurement plan had been approved and that the award of a sole source contract for the conversion of the 10-storey GETFund Building into suitable office accommodation and divisions of the Office was part of the approved plan.
Again, the documents revealed that the Office of the President granted the Office of Special Prosecutor the permission to put in motion, the procurement process to enable it award the single source contract for the conversion of the said building into suitable office accommodation and divisions.
“At this time, GETFund had expressed its intention to offer the building for sale and this Office (Office of the President) had also agreed to acquire it for the Office of the Special Prosecutor,” the presidency documents indicated.
“Pending conclusion of negotiations for the purchase of the building, a rental agreement was reached with GETFund for a period of three (3) months to enable the Office of the Special Prosecutor move in and occupy three (3) of the floors since the landlady of the so-called “three bedroom” had informed this Office of her intention not to renew the rent agreement after it had expired.”
“However, the Special Prosecutor refused to accept that arrangement and indicated his Office would not want to share the building with any other party for security concerns.”
Thus, the Presidency said since it granted the Office of the Special Prosecutor the permission to put in motion the procurement process that will enable it award a single source contract for the conversion of the said building into suitable office accommodation and divisions, “the request to the OSP to fix a date convenient for the handing over of the building could not have been made “inadvertently” as he claimed.”
By Melvin Tarlue