Jeff Sessions’ resignation gets Amidu thinking


Jeff Sessions’ resignation gets Amidu thinking


The recent resignation of U.S. Attorney-General, Jeff Sessions, has gotten Ghana’s Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, pondering about the stumbling blocks in the fight against corruption.

Writing in a short article released on Thursday, November 8, 2018, the man whose unrelenting fight against corruption in his own party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), secured him the anti-graft job in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government says the events leading to Mr Sessions’ resignation is an enlightenment on how the fight against corruption does suffer systemic bottlenecks.

Mr. Amidu, a former Attorney-General himself, made the following observation in the article titled “The Whitaker scenario – Stifling independent investigative agencies of funds”:

“The Chief of Staff of the Justice Department, Matthew Whitaker, whom Jeff Session appointed in September 2017, was appointed the Acting Attorney General [after Sessions’ resignation] to the displeasure of the opposition Democrats because of the likely effect of the new acting appointment on Robert Mueller’s investigations into the allegation of Russian meddling into the 2016 US elections.

“The opposition Democrats’ fear that the new Acting Attorney General will assume full oversight over Mueller’s investigations and is demanding that like Jeff Sessions, he recuses himself from those investigations because of his previous comments on the probe.  Acting Attorney General Whitaker’s comments were made before he joined the Justice Department.

“Whitaker’s comments before Sessions appointed him to the Justice Department has just opened my eyes to how an independent investigation and prosecutorial agency such as Ghana’s Office of the Special Prosecutor can be disabled from effectively and efficiently performing its mandate without direct interference with its so-called independence and impartiality. “

Mr. Amidu has lamented bitterly in the past about being under-resourced to carry out his duties. His office was a creation of the incumbent NPP government as a specialised agency to investigate specific cases of corruption involving public officers and politically-exposed persons.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor was set up to also prosecute individuals in the private sector implicated in corrupt practices and to prosecute these offences on the authority of the Attorney-General.

Related: Amidu’s outburst ’is admission of failure’ – CSO

Several months down the line, the agency has no legislative backing and Mr Amidu is not a happy man because of that.

At the National Audit Forum organised by the Ghana Audit Service, he revealed his frustrations.

“I am saying this for the public to understand that we have set up an office. We have to organise that office, have the requisite personnel. It does not take one day.

“The law says 90 days after the assumption of office of the Special Prosecutor, pursuant legislation must be enacted, but as I speak today, I have no legislation so I use my common sense,” the former Attorney-General said.

President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo responded swiftly to Mr. Amidu’s concern, perhaps dreading a possible resignation by the man who is known to be principled to the core.

“Very soon all of you will see the office is functional,” the President assured as criticism mounts against his government’s perceived feet-dragging in fight political corruption.

But it seems Mr. Amidu is far from impressed.

In the article he reiterated an earlier complaint about the inadequacy of resources to perform his duties as Special Prosecutor:

“One year down the line [Office of the Special Prosecutor] has only a small three bedroom house as an Office woefully inadequate for lack of sheer 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 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.”

Is Mr. Amidu hinting of a possible resignation?

Read his article, published in full below, and judge for yourself.

THE WHITAKER SCENARIO – STIFLING INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIVE AGENCIES OF FUNDS: BY MARTIN A. B. K. AMIDU

The former United States Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, on 7th November 2018 announced his resignation as US Attorney General and made it clear it was at the request of the President –“at your request”. 

The Chief of Staff of the Justice Department, Matthew Whitaker, whom Jeff Session appointed in September 2017, was appointed the Acting Attorney General to the displeasure of the opposition Democrats because of the likely effect of the new acting appointment on Robert Mueller’s investigations into the allegation of Russian meddling into the 2016 US elections.

The opposition Democrats’ fear that the new Acting Attorney General will assume full oversight over Mueller’s investigations and is demanding that like Jeff Sessions, he recuses himself from those investigations because of his previous comments on the probe.  Acting Attorney General Whitaker’s comments were made before he joined the Justice Department.

Whitaker’s comments before Sessions appointed him to the Justice Department has just opened my eyes to how an independent investigation and prosecutorial agency such as Ghana’s Office of the Special Prosecutor can be disabled from effectively and efficiently performing its mandate without direct interference with its so called independence and impartiality.

The Associated Press of 8th November 2018 has an article captioned: “With new Justice Official, fate of Russia probe in question”. That caption has no relevance to how to disable an independent investigation institution from performing its duties but what is attributed to the new Justice Official, Whitaker, has. The Associated Press article says:

“Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney from Iowa who twice run unsuccessfully for statewide office…., once opined about a scenario in which Trump could fire Sessions and then appoint an acting attorney general who could stifle the funding of Mueller’s probe.

In that scenario, Mueller’s budget could be reduced ‘so low that his investigation grinds to a halt’. Whitaker said during an interview in CNN in July 2017 before he joined the Justice Department.”

Whitaker’s scenario which I have just read reinforces my own conviction that the effective way to stifle the fight against corruption is to apply Whitaker’s scenario. It also 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.

One year down the line it has only a small three bedroom house as an Office woefully inadequate for lack of sheer 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 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. 

The Whitaker scenario appears to be taking shape in November 2018 in the United States of America. Here in Ghana I see the absolute need for all citizens, particularly the electorate who brought the President personally to power to support him to ensure that his promised vision of fighting corruption materializes during his first term in Office. The 1992 Constitution supports the President’s vision and every patriotic citizen is mandated by the Constitution to support him.

I know for a fact that our President means business but there is a missing link provided by the Whitaker scenario to which civil society should wake up now or forever stop blaming the President. We are going into his third year in Office and we must all be stakeholders in the fight against corruption.

This is not politics. This is a fundamental patriotic obligation enjoined by the 1992 Constitution for its defence and to save our dear country of a malignant canker of corruption that has ravaged it since independence. Join the citizen patriotic fight against corruption in Ghana now! Prevent corruption now! Act now! Save Ghana now!

Martin A. B. K. Amidu

North Legon, Accra

8th November 2018





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