Anyone who is looking up to Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to investigate the PDS saga may be disappointed. This is because Mr. Martin Amidu has stressed that his office did not have the mandate to investigate financial and economic crimes.
Even though a section of Ghanaians, including civil society groups such as Good Governance Advocacy Group Ghana (GGAGG) have served notice to petition the OSP over the circumstances surrounding the suspension of the government’s concession agreement with the Power Distribution Services (PDS) Ghana Limited, Mr. Amidu said section 79 of Act 959 of the OSP does not permit him to do that.
It would be recalled that government recently initiated an enquiry into the circumstances leading to the non-fulfillment of conditions precedent to the full operationalisation of the agreement by PDS; but many people are still mounting pressure on the OSP to probe the matter.
In a statement, Mr. Amidu said such requests cannot be handled by his office.
“Just yesterday, 6th August 2019 I read, here in Ouagadougou, on Ghana Web that the Good Governance Advocacy Group Ghana (GGAGG) was petitioning “the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate the circumstances leading to the suspension of the Power Distribution Services concession agreement”. It wants the Office to investigate and prosecute fraudulent activities or supervision over corruption, nepotism, cronyism, favouritism and usurpation of another Minister’s powers.
“The truth is that section 79 of Act 959 severely restricts the jurisdiction of the Office of the Special Prosecutor to fight corruption and corruption-related offences in Ghana unlike in other countries that are fully committed to and adhere to their obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, and the ECOWAS Protocol on the Fight against Corruption in their domestic anti-corruption legislations. The ruling of the High Court in the case of the Republic v Ayariga and 1 Other, 17th July 2019, High Court, Accra, (Unreported) underscored the point I have made on the remit of the Office to a limited extent only based on lack of detailed particulars and should be a guide to the public: I annex a scanned PDF of the ruling as a separate attachment to this paper for educational purposes,” the statement said.
While there is the general perception out there among many Ghanaians that the OSP can investigate and prosecute any criminal offence under the laws of Ghana, the problem is compounded when high profile persons, civil society and political organizations, decide to petition or complain to the OSP on matters that are not corruption-related.