Martin Alamisi Burnes Kaiser Amidu on Monday, November 16, wrote to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, articulating his decision to resign from his position as Special Prosecutor, three years after he was appointed.
According to him, the resignation was very necessary so that the appointing authority could replace him as required by law since he could no longer defend his office.
“This is to inform the public that I resigned from my position as the Special Prosecutor of the Office of the Special Prosecutor with immediate effect upon the submission of my letter of resignation with reference number OSP/2/AM/14 dated November 16, 2020, which was received at the Office of the President at 15:15 HRS this afternoon,” parts of Martin Amidu
Prior to Amidu’s resignation, he had often given the hint that if the opportunity presented itself, he might resign from the position.
GhanaWeb highlights some red flags that should have given the appointing authority some clues that he would resign:
On 27 March, 2018, Gloria Akuffo, the Attorney General, indicated that some administrative arrangements were underway to equip the Office of the Special Prosecutor with the requisite resources.
This was after news reports revealed that the office of the Special Prosecutor was not fully furnished despite a month having elapsed after the Special Prosecutor officially started work.
“The Special Prosecutor has been sworn into power. There are issues of setting up administrative structures before he [Special Prosecutor] can start anything and he is in the process of doing that,” Gloria Akuffo told court reporters.
The Auditor-General Daniel Yaw Domelovo made ominous remarks about the constraints of the Special Prosecutor’s Office on September 21, 2018.
“I want to invite all of you to visit him [Amidu]. I won’t tell you why. Go and visit him and you will see whether you can be effective given that you have one deputy, one secretary, and no investigator, no prosecutor; nothing,” Domelevo said. “I don’t think one man can do all that so my submission is that if you want to do something, let’s do it well.”
The Ghana Bar Association (GBA), also asked the Akufo-Addo administration to, as a matter of urgency, resource the office of the Special Prosecutor to carry out its mandate of fighting corruption and prosecuting corrupt officials.
“We commend the government on the appointment of the Special Prosecutor to fight corruption. To make his office meaningful however, we call on the government to adequately resource the office of the Special Prosecutor as well as the other anti-corruption institutions which already exist, and indeed the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General,” Mr. Benson Nutsupkui, the President of GBA said on September 10, 2018.
In the discharge of his duties as an independent prosecutor, Martin Amidu on July 6, 2018, hinted that his outfit would be investigating Freddie Blay, the NPP National Chairman, over some 275 buses secured to be used by the 275 constituency offices of the incumbent NPP.
This was prior to the NPP national internal elections in which Blay was contesting for the position of National Chairman, a position he won thanks to the sharing of the buses.
Blay was reported to have made a down payment of three million dollars, which constituted 30 percent of the total cost of 11.4 million dollars for the 275 buses.
According to Freddie Blay’s spokesperson, the buses were not for free, but were to be used to raise monies at the constituency level of the party. On 27 September, 2018, at the National Audit Forum in Accra, Martin Amidu noted that one of the major challenges hampering his work aside from his office being under-resourced, was the failure of some appointees of President Akufo-Addo to collaborate with him.
He explained that it would be practically impossible for him to effectively deliver on his mandate if the friction between his outfit and heads of critical government institutions was not eliminated.
“The success of the experiment would depend on the extent to which Ministries, Departments and Agencies in government with the responsibility to cooperate with the office [help] to achieve the vision of the president who championed the setting up of the office,” Amidu stated.
He also suggested that the fight against corruption cannot be won solely by his appointment as the country’s first independent prosecutor.
“Whether we succeed or fail depends on the commitment we have as a nation. I have no doubt, whatsoever, that the President of the Republic would wish to leave the success of the fight against corruption as one of his legacies in office. The problem is that his vision might not be shared by his appointees,” Amidu said. “So as much as he may want it, as much as he may appoint me, hoping that my personality and reputation may help solve the problem, when his appointees do not cooperate and coordinate with us, it cannot happen.”
On 9 November, 2018, in one of his epistles, Martin Amidu outlined how independent investigating agencies were being stifled of funds.
He wrote, “The Whitaker’s scenario reminds me of the almost utter hopelessness in which the newly established Office of the Special Prosecutor finds itself almost one year after the President caused its establishment as his flagship and vision to fight corruption in Ghana with an overwhelming national consensus and support.”
He added, “One year down the line it has only a small three-bedroom house as an Office woefully inadequate for lack of shear physical space to accommodate any reasonable number of employees, lack of subsidiary legislation, and consequently also financially crippled without any ability to acquire the requisite expensive operational anti-corruption and other equipment for the Office let alone to function efficiently. Creating unilateral unrealistic and crippling budget ceilings for such a deprived agency has the same effect as the Whitaker scenario. By analogical reasoning the Whitaker scenario reported by the Associated Press resembles the situation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor since its establishment in spite of the President’s sincere commitment to his vision.”
In apparent response to this, the Finance Minister in reading the 2019 budget on 15 November 15 2018, told parliament that the Akufo-Addo administration had allocated GH¢180 million to the Special Prosecutor’s Office to resource the office and strengthen it to fight corruption.
He added that the government was also prepared to “provide additional resources during the course of 2019 to enable the Special Prosecutor’s Office to carry out its mandate.”
But Martin Amidu on 15 January, 2019 informed the nation that his office was almost forgotten in the 2019 budget.
“Many people don’t know how the budget went there [Ministry of Finance]. I myself on my own submitted the budget in October. Nobody asked for it. I was almost forgotten about. I was forgotten about entirely until I prepared my own budget and submitted it.
“The ideal process is that I should have been in the budget preparation process since [sic] January last year. By October, nobody had submitted any request for me to submit anything, I did it on my own with people I had gathered round. My luck is that we had a gentleman as a Minister of Finance who understood my plight and when he noticed it, he took it up”.
The Special Prosecutor later stated that in spite of the challenges he was facing he would continue to do his work although he did not enjoy the support of some government officials.
“The Office of the Special Prosecutor is the idea of the President. Those who support him in this are very few from both divides. I have said time without number, that even those within his government, some of them do not like this office to exist. As for the NDC people, some have said outwardly that my presence here is not in their interest. I’m in the Supreme Court [over this]. It is no secret. I am quite prepared to move out of here any day the Supreme Court decides. But before then, I will do my work because the president has figured out that I can help him.”
On 22 July, 2019, Martin Amidu condemned what he calls interference in his office’s investigation of Charles Bissue, the then Secretary to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining.
Amidu stated that his office was still investigating Charles Bissue, who he said had been cooperating, and one other person, over the corruption claims.
“We have indicated that we are going to begin investigations. There shouldn’t be duplicity of [sic] our efforts so they [the CID] should stop it,” Amidu complained about the police taking over the Charles Bissue Galamsey scandal.
The next day, Yaw Buaben Asamoa, the Adentan MP who wears another hat as the Communication Director of the NPP pilloried Martin Amidu.
“Why is he complaining all the time? Let him do his work. Has the president told Martin Amidu to stop work? No. Has a minister who wrote a letter to the CID told Martin Amidu to stop work? No. Has the CID in its report to Martin Amidu told him to stop work? No. I don’t think it will be useful to be at opposite ends of the table with the CID. I think it will be better for him to pick up that report, look at flaws, if any, he finds, per his view within the Special Prosecutor’s act, and move on to deal with those issues. Nobody has stopped him or can stop him from moving to investigate that matter,” Yaw Buaben Asamoa said.
Martin Amidu then replied stating that he was nobody’s poodle.
“I wish Hon. Yaw Buaben Asamoa to understand that the Office of the Special Prosecutor is governed by statute and I am mandated to lead it in the achievement of that mandate. I do not need any direct or indirect instructions from any office holder of any political party like him. It is time for him and others like him from other political parties to stop confusing the fact that I was appointed by the President of the Republic to mean that it created a vested right in the political party which supported him to win the elections to instruct or direct me as the Special Prosecutor.
I was appointed by the President in his capacity as the Executive Authority of Ghana under the 1992 Constitution and not as the flag bearer of any political party. Hon. Yaw Buaben Asamoa should understand that by my oath at my vetting in Parliament for the appointment, I was not going to be the poodle of any political party and he, as the Communication Director of the New Patriotic Party, should not try to test my resolve. Should he think that I am talking too much and not doing my job, the simple solution is for him to have me removed from office. Until then, he should leave me alone to continue to exercise the independent duties of my office in accordance with my oath before Parliament and my oath at my appointment as the Special Prosecutor.”
In outlining some of his challenges in fighting corruption in Ghana, Martin Amidu on 16 July, 2019 said: “The biggest challenge facing the Office of the Special Prosecutor as an anti-corruption investigatory and prosecutorial body in spite of all the powers conferred upon it is not the President who promised the people of Ghana to establish the Office but the heads of institutions who simply refuse to comply with laws designed to ensure good governance and to protect the national purse by fighting corruption.”
He went on, “Heads of institutions wantonly disregard statutory requests made by the Office for information and production of documents to assist in the investigation of corruption and corruption-related offences, in spite of the fact that the President has on a number of occasions admonished them on such misconduct. There have also been cases where some heads of institutions have made it their habit to interfere with and undermine the independence of this Office by deliberately running concurrent investigations falling within the jurisdiction of this Office with on-going investigations in this Office for the sole purpose of aborting investigations into corruption and corruption-related offences.”
Only recently, Mark Assibey Yeboah, the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, described as sloppy, the report released by the Special Prosecutor on the Agyapa Royalties deal.
“We thought the Special Prosecutor was going to do a thorough job and clear the doubts of Ghanaians but reading his corruption risk assessment report, this has been a sloppy job because the connected parties, I as Chairman of Finance Committee – he pronounces on our work – he did not even speak to me,” Mark Assibey Yeboah said on 4 November, 2020.
“He came to Parliament gathering our reports on the works that we have done as if he is going behind us to get some information. Not everybody sits in the Finance Committee meetings so who is the best person to speak to when you want to know what transpired at the Finance Committee? I think this is the sloppiest job he has done so far and if he continues like this, I do not think anyone will take him seriously.”
In his resignation letter to the President, Martin Amidu disclosed that when he met the President Friday 23 October, to discuss the “Corruption and Anti-Corruption Risk Assessment” report on the Agyapa scandal, he, Amidu, despite the president’s position on how to proceed, gave the President notice immediately that, “I did not intend to continue as the Special Prosecutor because of your interference in the performance of my functions under the law.”
He added that, when he was invited to the Office of the President on Sunday 1 November, 2020, he again “asserted that I was not going to bargain over the independence of my functions as the Special Prosecutor.”