Parliament has passed the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill after its third reading in parliament.
The creation of the office of the Special Prosecutor was one of the paramount campaign promises made by President Nana Akufo-Addo prior to his victory in the election.
The Special Prosecutor’s office will be independent of the Executive when it starts operating, this independent body is believed to adequately deal with corruption-related issues which have plagued past governments.
Another reason for the passage of this bill is expected to, among other things, define the modalities for the appointment and operations of the Special Prosecutor.
The office of the Special Prosecutor will have the authority to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged corruption under the Public Procurement Act 203 Act 63 and other corruption-related offenses implicating public officers, political office holders and their accomplices in the public sector. However, the Prosecutor will also be mandated to trace and recover the proceeds of corruption.
In an interview with Citi News, Mr. Fuseini said the Bill was intended to be passed today [Tuesday] “so that it can find space in [the 2018] budget” which will be read on Wednesday.
“What has happened tonight is a demonstration of our commitment towards establishing institutions of State that will fight corruption and corruption-related offenses.” A ranking member on parliaments legal and constitutional affairs, Inusah Fuseni revealed.
Reaction from the minority
From the National Democratic Congress Minority today, the Bill appears to have been passed in a fussy manner despite earlier contentions when processes for the laying of the Bill begun in July 2017.
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“We have always had that fear. The Minority has always had the fear that this office can be used to witch-hunt political opponents,” Mr. Fuseni said.
There were heated exchanges on the floor of Parliament at the laying of the Office of the Prosecutor Bill in July.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, in an earlier Citi News interview, stressed that the Special Prosecutor’s office could not be set up without tinkering with Article 88 of the constitution, which deals with the role of the Attorney-General.
“…That is my understanding of the law. It belongs to the executive chapter of the constitution which is entrenched; therefore you cannot be seeking to review that through an Act of Parliament… I am certain that article 88 is entrenched, and not that which can be reviewed simply through a process of an Act of Parliament,” he explained.
The Special Prosecutor Bill at a point withdrawn from parliament by the government after the Minority challenged the procedure in which the Bill was laid, claiming it was unconstitutional.
The minority leader then argued that the bill couldn’t fulfill the 14 days constitutional process for its introduction in parliament.
meanwhile, the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, who withdrew the Bill, did not make any further explanation before the relay of the bill before the house.
Meanwhile, the approval of the bill is now awaiting President Nana Akufo-Addo’s assent.