Special Prosecutor; Martin Amidu, has been caught playing partisan politics with his all-important office in the cases before him for investigation and possible prosecution.
The Herald, has come across three cases before the Special Prosecutor’s Office involving top elements of both the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) where Mr Amidu, sounded and acted very partisan, thus defeating the independence and objectivity of the Office.
The cases include; the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) against the dismissed Alfred Obeng; Chief Executive of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) for trading an unlicensed private oil firm, BB Energy, the probe into the purchase of three land cruisers by the NDC Member of Parliament for Bawku Central; Mahama Ayariga and corruption allegations against the CEO of the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company (GCMC), Frances Essiam.
In the case of the sacked BOST CEO, Mr Amidu, sent back COPEC’s petition for investigation into allegations of a shady crude oil transaction between the BOST and BB Energy, asking COPEC, for the further and better particulars against Mr Alfred Obeng.
The Executive Secretary of COPEC, Duncan Amoah, had submitted that the transaction, had cost the country a revenue loss of GH¢30 million through the sale of 1.8 million barrels of crude oil to BB Energy.
President Akufo-Addo, was later to sack Mr Obeng, who had earlier sold some 5 million litres of contaminated fuel to two unlicensed companies, Movenpinaa and Zup Oil, without giving reasons for the dismissals.
In the case of the Ghana Cylinder Company, a petition submitted by a former accountant of the company, Julius Opuni Asamoah, to the Special Prosecutor, alleging many cases of corruptions against the former NPP Parliamentary aspirant, has received confirmation, but has been hanged with a claim from the Special Prosecutor’s Office that there are no investigators to pursue the allegations.
The ex-accountant of the company, said he was dismissed by Frances Essiam for refusing to approve 400 LPG cylinders for a board member as protocol, procurement breaches, contract and loans without board approvals among other arbitrarily decisions.
But in a response, the Special Prosecutor Office, said it would commence investigations into the allegations as soon as it gets the full complement of its supporting staff.
There has been unrest at the GCMC over the CEO’s disregard for some directives issued by the company’s Board chaired by former Effiduase-Asokore MP, Frank Boakye Agyen.
The Board, had queried Madam Essiam over claims that she had mismanaged GCMC, and also awarded some contracts without the approval of the Board or the Energy Ministry, with the discord eventually leading to their vote for her suspension.
But just when Madam Essiam defied the suspension which was approved by six of the nine board members and insisted she was still at post, the Executive Secretary of the State Enterprises Commission (SEC), Stephen Asamoah Boateng, insisted that Madam Essiam, remained at post.
Subsequently, a three-member independent committee was set up by the Energy Ministry in collaboration with the SEC, to probe the allegations and the disagreement with the Board.
The Government, has since dissolved the GCMC Board, but left Frances still at the helm of affairs, although the content of the investigations is not yet public.
Interestingly, the same Martin Amidu, has acted differently in the case of the Bawku Central MP. He reported the NDC MP to the Economic and Organized Crime Organization (EOCO) for attempting to block his investigations on him.
Martin Amidu, in a statement leaked to the media claimed that Mahama Ayariga, had sent personal friends, former colleagues, chiefs, pastors among others, to beg him [Amidu] to stop the investigations against him [Ayariga].
Martin Amidu, who said he was investigating Ayariga on suspicion of commission of corruption and abusing his office by importing three used Toyota Land Cruiser V8s into the country, added that Mr Ayariga, refused to honor an invitation by EOCO over the matter.
According to him, a letter he wrote to the speaker of Parliament and copied to Mahama Ayariga, to request that the latter’s presence only got him [Ayariga] to find some influential persons to come and beg him to back down on the probe.
Mr Amidu said “after undertaking preliminary investigations into the suspected commission of corruption and corruption-related offences, including the abuse of public office for private gain by the Honourable Mahama Ayariga, Member of Parliament for the Bawku Central Constituency, my office decided that there were sufficient grounds to invite the suspect for the conduct of full investigations into the allegations.
“The preliminary investigations pertained to the importation into Ghana through corrupt means and corruption-related activities of three used white Toyota Land Cruiser V8 vehicles by using a Parliamentary Resolution dated 7th April 2017 contracting a facility of US$22, 500, 000.00 between the Parliamentary Service and the Societe Generale Bank (Ghana) which was for the purchase of one brand new official vehicle for each of the 275 Members of Parliament.
“Due to the fact that the investigations division of my office was in the process of being set up, I invited the Economic and Organised Crime Office to undertake a joint investigation of the suspected offences with my office, as permitted under our establishment enactments.”
“The suspect refused to report to the offices of EOCO in Accra as demanded by a publication at page 26 of the Daily Graphic of 20th June, 2018 with vehicle numbers GR 2220-18, GR 2221-18, GR2222-18, GT 2243(sic)-17 and GT 4054-13, consequently, it fell on me to write to the Speaker of Parliament with a copy to Honourable Mahama Ayariga (the suspect) in my letter dated 26th June 2018 to release the suspect to report to the EOCO on 3rd July 2018,” he said.
“When the suspect, Honourable Mahama Ayariga receive his copy of my letter to the Speaker, he immediately started to get people who he perceived could put pressure on me (such as personal friends, former colleagues, chiefs, men of God etc.) to abate the investigation being conducted in the performance of my functions under Acts 959 and Act 804,” Martin Amidu added.
The statement added “I asked the EOCO on a number of occasions to warn the suspect to desist from his conduct of obstructing the investigation by soliciting others to put pressure on me to abate same to no avail…I have accordingly, on 3rd August 2018, requested the EOCO to investigate my complaint against the suspect for obstructing me, the Special Prosecutor, in the performance of the functions of my office as the Special Prosecutor.”
Martin Amidu, further added that, despite cautions through EOCO to Ayariga to refrain from trying to obstruct investigations, Ayariga, has persisted with getting people close to him [Amidu] to get the inquiry abated.
Mr Amidu, said he therefore on August 3, 2018, officially reported the matter to the EOCO and asked it to investigate the complaint of obstruction by Mahama Ayariga to the investigation.
“I asked the EOCO on a number of occasions to warn the suspect to desist from his conduct of obstructing the investigation by soliciting others to put pressure on me to abate same to no avail….I have accordingly, on 3rd August 2018, requested the EOCO to investigate my complaint against the suspect for obstructing me, the Special Prosecutor, in the performance of the functions of my office as the Special Prosecutor,” the statement said.
Martin Amidu further noted that Ghanaians must respect his oath and pledge during his vetting to remain fair and not tolerate “any interference or obstruction from anybody or organ of Government other than the courts of law in the performance of the independent functions of my office even if the culprit were my only brother.”
Amidu’s claims later got the attention of President Akufo-Addo who cautioned against people trooping to the Special Prosecutor’s in the company of chiefs and Men of God to persuade him to drop his investigations of their suspected corrupt practices to stop because from what he knows about the special prosecutor, they are engaging in a fruitless venture.
Speaking at the turn of the graduation parade of the Ghana Prisons Service Officer Cadet Course Intake 25, held at the Prison Officers Training School at Roman Ridge, President Akufo-Addo, said under his administration, he would ensure that the laws of Ghana are enforced to the latter.
The Special Prosecutor, recently said that his office would only prosecute serious cases of alleged corruption due to the limited resources available to his office.
He was, however, quick to add that his office would not spare corrupt officials, since it will devise measures to deal with offenses minor.
“I can assure you that every petition that has come to this office since I assumed office had been responded to. There are however some people who will just read the news and say ‘this person said this, investigate it’…This office cannot investigate hear-say. So petitioners should be people who must have personal knowledge of the facts.
I know you cannot have resources to prosecute everybody who commits a crime so you make sure you prosecute only the very serious ones so it can deter people from continuing to commit crime because you have to look at the resources you are spending and then the other areas, so we will prosecute serious corruption offenses.”
Mr Amidu, said he and his team might agree to accept reparations, adding that the public should not be emotional in those instances.