At a press conference held today, the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has voiced its frustration over the escalating number of dismissive rulings in corruption cases, cautioning that this growing trend could have grave implications for the country’s anti-corruption endeavors.
The OSP, which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting corruption-related offenses, believes that the increasing hasty dismissiveness and lack of regard for such cases could severely hinder its ability to fulfill its mandate.
The OSP, established as an independent body to combat corruption and ensure accountability, plays a crucial role in upholding the rule of law and fostering transparency within the nation.
However, recent developments have raised concerns within the office regarding the effectiveness of its efforts.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, Special Prosecutor Kissi Agyebeng emphasized that corruption poses a significant threat to the country’s socio-economic development and undermines public trust in the government and its institutions.
He warned that allowing corruption cases to be dismissed hastily without proper examination could have dire consequences for the overall fight against corruption.
He highlighted four specific cases that exemplify this trend, including the acquittal of Cecilia Dapaah, a former government official, in a corruption case and the refusal of a court order to freeze the estate of former NPP General Secretary, Kojo Owusu Afriyie, despite mounting allegations of corruption against his estate.
These cases, according to Mr. Agyebeng, raise serious questions about the commitment of the judicial system to upholding the rule of law and combating corruption.
He warned that if this trend continues, it will create an atmosphere of impunity that will be very difficult to reverse.
The Special Prosecutor urged the judiciary to reconsider its approach to corruption cases, emphasizing the need for thorough and impartial investigations and prosecutions.
“Indeed I have had several calls from well-meaning lawyers admonishing me that they have heard talk that our friends who have been elevated to the bench and presiding over cases in court do not take very kindly to criticism, especially of the public calling out variety as we do. And that if the office persists in the media releases, the judges will gang up against the office and throw out all our cases. Mind you, members of the press, collective admonishing is from very senior and experienced lawyers who are members of the bar. Members of the press, my learning of the law for the past 25 years in three different jurisdictions, my teaching and training of lawyers and law students for the past 17 years, my 20-year record at the bar all bear testimony that I will be the last person to lead an institution to attack the judiciary.
“It will be absolutely of no good should it be the case that the OSP is set against the judiciary or that the judiciary is against the OSP. That will surely spell disastrous consequences for this republic, especially in the fight against corruption to the glee of corrupt persons.”
Mr. Agyebeng added “I do not intend to sound as though I’m predicting doom but we are facing doom. With this development, it will not be long, [before] a suspected murderer or armed robber will boldly walk to court with the unthinkable prayer that the court should injunct law enforcement agencies from investigating him.”
The OSP’s frustration stems from the observation that dismissive rulings have become more prevalent in corruption cases, potentially signaling a lack of commitment to combating corruption at various levels of the judicial system. The office believes that such dismissive rulings not only undermine the progress made in fighting corruption but also erode public confidence in the justice system.
To address this issue, the OSP has called for greater attention and scrutiny from the judiciary when handling corruption cases. They have stressed the need for judges to thoroughly evaluate the evidence presented and the potential impact of their rulings on the broader efforts to curb corruption. The OSP further urged the judiciary to prioritize the fight against corruption and consider the long-term consequences of dismissive rulings.
Additionally, the OSP has called for enhanced collaboration and coordination among all stakeholders involved in the anti-corruption fight. This includes closer cooperation between the OSP, law enforcement agencies, and other relevant bodies to ensure a comprehensive and unified approach towards tackling corruption.
The OSP’s concerns underscore the importance of maintaining the integrity of the judicial system and upholding the principles of justice and accountability. It serves as a reminder that combating corruption requires a collective effort and a commitment from all sectors of society.
As the nation grapples with the challenge of corruption, it remains imperative for the judiciary and other relevant authorities to address the OSP’s concerns seriously. Upholding the rule of law and ensuring that corruption cases are thoroughly examined and prosecuted will be essential in preserving public trust and advancing the country’s anti-corruption agenda.
In addition to highlighting the dismissive rulings, the OSP announced that it will be carrying out a payroll audit, beginning with the Ghana Education Service and the Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies.
Furthermore, the OSP has already commenced investigations into a deal at the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).
Finally, in an effort to combat corruption, the OSP will investigate the ownership and sale of stool and public lands.
However, Mr. Agyebeng acknowledged that Ghana is not fully ready to fight corruption, as many members of the public prefer to remain silent on matters of corruption.
He called on Ghanaians to support the OSP in order to prevent Ghana from losing the fight against corruption.
He also charged Ghanaians to uphold the law and support law enforcement agencies in their efforts to combat corruption.
By Vincent Kubi