The Special Prosecutor nominee, Kissi Agyebeng, has said it cannot be possible to stop corruption in the country, but added that he will work hard to make it rather ‘very costly’ to engage in the social menace.
“I am not naive to assume that I am coming to stop corruption. There is no way I can stop corruption. God himself will not acclaim to that, but I am going to make corruption very costly to engage in,” he said yesterday when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament to be vetted as the President’s nominee for the position of Special Prosecutor in place of Martin Amidu who resigned late last year.
He said, “First, I am going to institute what I call ‘Pressure for Progress’ and in this quest, there will be a systemic review of all public sector institutions and the development of integrity plans.”
When the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrissu, queried if it was prudent for the country to criminalise unexplained wealth, the nominee said that it would depend on the defence of the person under probe.
He said that when he is given the nod, he will pay attention towards dealing with unexplained wealth displayed by people in positions of responsibility, saying he expects all the wealth of government officials to come from lawful and legal sources.
“I will be looking out in respect of the sources of that income… whatever the source of the income is; should be lawful,” he said, adding “if we are to place unexplained wealth in proper context, I will say that if the person cannot reasonably explain as matched against his lawful income, the amount of money in question, then that aspect, in my opinion, should be criminalised. But if you can reasonably explain how you came by that amount of money, then that should be acceptable.”
He said, “If I were to place the burden on you; matched against your lawful income, and you cannot reasonably explain the shortfall as to how your lawful income falls short of your wealth, then I will be asking you questions and calling you in.”
“My conscience and my learning of the law are going to be my guide,” the nominee also assured.
Mr. Agyebeng said that the setting up of the Office of the Special Prosecutor was key in the fight against corruption and any attempt to scrap that office will spell doom for the country.
He said the office remains relevant for the public to know the extent to which it has ravaged the country and the need to safeguard the public purse.
“The day we scrap this office (Special Prosecutor) is the day we say goodbye to our fight against corruption. Its relevance is borne out of its attributes and uniqueness. It is unique as compared to all other law enforcement agencies in respect of its mandate. No other institution has been carefully thought out and designed to fight corruption specifically as Act 959 had done,” he said.
He also said that “OSP is the gold standard under the UN Convention against corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating of Corruption,” adding “the international community, including Ghana, ratified these conventions way back in early 2002. Every jurisdiction requires such a specialised agency. We should be made independent with a specialised trained staff to focus on the fight against corruption.”
He stated that the flaw with Article 88 of the Constitution is that the nation sometimes requires “too many individuals occupying the Office of the Attorney General.”
“The AG is a member of the cabinet. How independent will he be, in terms of certain individuals if they were to fall foul of the law if for instance they are also members of cabinet or the government?” he quizzed.
The Special Prosecutor nominee said he would carve a niche for himself in fighting corruption and his desires would be to “be his own man” to execute strategies per his “experiences and professional training.”
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, compared the appointee to his predecessor, asking, “How prepared are you to fall into the heavy shoes of Martin Alamisi Amidu given his enormous experience and background?”
He replied that, “Honourable Chair, I will prefer to wear my own shoes. In the sense that I am my own man, and I am coming with my own experiences and professional training,” adding “in this quest, my conscience and my learning of the law are going to be my guide.”
Mr. Agyebeng, 43, disagreed with those claiming that he is too young to occupy the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
“In terms of experience as I stated earlier, I was called to the bar some 18 years ago, I qualify to sit on the Supreme Court of Ghana. Indeed, I am three years past the qualification for the Supreme Court,” he said, adding “I turned 43 years on July 2. I qualify to be the President of the Republic. I am age mates with the President of the French Republic and I am a year older than the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. We were mates at the University of Ghana. There is no question about his age. Why then throw issues about my age?”
Mr. Agyebeng added that, “To anchor on that I have had a front role, although I have not been a prosecutor, properly so called, I have had a front role to landmark prosecution in this country. When Tiger Eye PI and Anas Aremeyaw Anas come up with their investigative pieces, I am the one who supervises the collation of evidence for presentation to the Attorney General and I have been doing this for quite a while now and without me, the Attorney General’s office would be poorer in terms of those prosecutions.”
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House