EOCO, CHRAJ Fear Special Prosecutor Office

Ghana’s public anti-corruption agencies like Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), have expressed grave concern about how the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor could undermine their effectiveness in the fight against the canker.

They fear that the establishment of the Office might affect funding for their respective operations and push them into oblivion.

These sentiments were expressed by representatives of EOCO and CHRAJ yesterday during a two-day stakeholders’ conference hosted by the Committee of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of parliament to brainstorm on the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, which is at the committee stage.

Edward Cudjoe, a legal officer with EOCO, said that it would be economically prudent to let EOCO be the investigative arm of the Office of the Special Prosecutor so that additional money is not spent to set up any unit at the Special Prosecutor’s office and staff it.

Mr Cudjoe indicated further that in incorporating some aspects of the work of EOCO into the work of the new office of the Special Prosecutor, it would help strengthen its (EOCO’s) work and improve upon its professional capabilities.

He therefore, pleaded with the Committee to seriously consider that suggestion and factor it into the bill.

The Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Richard Quayson, who represented the body, said that the idea of setting up the new Office of Special Prosecutor is not bad, but its mandate must be complementary to that of CHRAJ and other existing anti-corruption agencies.

He said that looking at the way much attention is being given to the would-be office, it is most likely that funding for other anti-corruption agencies could be severely affected

He said Ghana must learn from the experience of Kenya where other anti-corruption agencies, including the courts, ganged up to stifle the work of the Office of the Special Prosecutor because they thought all the attention and resources were going to that office.

“We may have to look at the situation where in Kenya, the courts threw away every case brought before them by the Office of the Special Prosecutor to frustrate its work,” suggested Richard Quayson.

The Office of the Auditor-General also at the stakeholders’ conference, appealed to politicians and for that matter, every Ghanaian, to help in the fight against corruption in the country since it is the same politicians, especially Members of Parliament, who come to plead on behalf of public officials who are indicted in the annual Auditor-General’s reports presented to the Public Accounts Committee of the house.

He said now that the Supreme Court has given them power to prosecute offenders, it is going to bite hard and prosecute officials indicted in the Auditor-General’s report.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Wa West, Joseph Yieleh Chireh, assured the anti-corruption agencies that the creation of the new Office of the Special Prosecutor would come and complement their work and would in no way undermine their work.

A member of civil society, Prof Kwasi Prempeh, said it was likely that the new office would fall on the expertise of the existing anti-corruption agencies and work in tandem with them to achieve a common goal.