- “Why is it that we are not relying on Article 80 (a) because successively Attorney-Generals have failed us under the Fourth Republic to punish corruption and punish closer politically-exposed persons.
Parliament on Friday, July 30, unanimously approved Mr Kissi Agyebeng as Special Prosecutor (SP).
The approval came after the Appointments Committee submitted its ninth report on the President’s nomination of Mr Agyebeng for appointment as SP.
The Majority Chief Whip, Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, presented the Appointments Committee’s report to the House on behalf of the Chairman of the committee and moved a motion for the approval of the nominee.
That paved way for a debate to take place which saw almost all the members of the House endorsing the recommendation by the 25-member committee for the House to approve the 43-year-old law lecturer and private legal practitioner.
On July 22, 2021, the committee, chaired by the First Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, unanimously recommended Mr Agyebeng as the SP following his vetting on the same day.
Seconding the motion for the adoption of the committee’s report, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said nobody, including himself, would stand in the way of any President to combat and prevent corruption as well as punish those involved.
He therefore said it was reassuring to hear the nominee expressing his commitment to make corruption a high-cost activity.
He, however, said making corruption indeed a high-risk one would require the sanctioning of corruption, which would require strong political will.
Making reference to a letter dated August 31, 2017 from the United States of America which was referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs when the matter of the SP was debated, he said the President referred the nomination of the SP by the Attorney-General (A-G) to Parliament.
Advertise nomination of SP in future
He also cited the recommendation of the US government which read: “Our most recommendation is that the Office of the SP be seen to be free of political influence and interference specifically the appointment of the SP should subject to a transparent, competitive shortlisting process.”
He therefore questioned why the nomination of the current SP was not subjected to shortlisting requirement process.
Additionally, he suggested the need for the President to cause an advertisement to be made publicly on the selection of a SP next time to ensure that the office would be occupied by an apolitical person who could deal with the quest to combat corruption.
“Why is it that we are not relying on Article 80 (a) because successively Attorney-Generals have failed us under the Fourth Republic to punish corruption and punish closer politically-exposed persons.
Serve country, not political party
“So, you need a truly independent person and that is where I would have doubt how independent Kissi Agyebeng be given the determination that he was handpicked or recommended by the Attorney-General just to the President,” he said.
Commending Mr Agyebeng for putting up an impressed knowledge of law, particularly criminal law, during his vetting, Mr Haruna however said laws were not enough to fight graft, white colour criminality and economic crime since bribery and corruption were shrouded in secrecy.
He therefore advised the SP to serve the country, and not any political party or government in power, saying that “you must demonstrate political neutrality, independence and be ruthless in dealing with corrupt individuals, especially politically-exposed persons.”
Make asset declaration public
Contributing to the debate, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, called for the approval of Mr Agyebeng as the Special Prosecutor.
He, however, noted that to bolster the fight against corruption, the time had come for a second look to be taken at the Constitution in respect of Article 286 (2) to allow the Auditor-General authenticate declared assets by public office holders.