Opinion: Emile Short Has a Point, But… – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

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Mr Justice Emile Short

Ordinarily, I would agree with Mr. Emile Short, the first Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), that the appointment of the Special Prosecutor ought to be conducted through a process of open application and selection in the form of shortlisting. But in this case, the President has clearly stated that he has a particular person in mind, with whom he has had quite a long intimate personal and professional relationship well enough to confidently entrust him with the job (See “Appoint SP Through Application Process – Short” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 1/4/18).

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In fact, the name of the candidate for the job, Mr. Akoto Ampaw, was long put into the public domain before the proposal for the creation of the Office of the Independent Special Public Prosecutor was submitted to Parliament for approval. We also witnessed the annoying hiccups that the proposal had to go through before its ultimate approval. But what is important to observe here is that contrary to what Mr. Short would have the public believe, there is absolutely nothing opaque about the process of the selection of Mr. Akoto Ampaw for the job. His credentials are well established and easily verifiable by all and anybody who has any doubts.

Even more significant is the fact that like equally significant statutory establishments such as CHRAJ and the Electoral Commission (EC), the President has the sole and especial prerogative of naming the Special Prosecutor. It was one of the salient planks of his electioneering campaign agenda. And to be certain, since the Office of the Special Prosecutor squarely falls under the purview or authority of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, one expects that the President will be making decisions pertaining to this office in close consultation with Attorney-General Gloria Akuffo, if, in fact, he has not already done so. To the best of my knowledge, nobody questioned the appointments of Mrs. Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei on transfer from the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to the Electoral Commission (EC), and her replacement to the NCCE, whose name I could not readily access from Google at the time of this writing.

And so I really don’t find this rather bizarre attempt to usurp the authority of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to be amusing. Indeed, as I vividly recall, Mr. Short had only questioned the fact of whether Mrs. Osei was experienced and mature enough to handle the pressure and hassle that came with such a highly sensitive job, and had himself expressed a great interest in taking the job of EC Chair, if the then-President John Dramani Mahama decided to offer it to him. Mr. Short may just as well be interested in being offered the job of Special Prosecutor, but I sincerely don’t see him making the cut.

On the other hand, in Mr. Akoto Ampaw, Nana Akufo-Addo envisages his ideal candidate for the job of Special Prosecutor, partly because although the would-be appointee and the President have practiced law together (actually, Mr. Akoto Ampaw was an Akufo-Addo protégé, as I understand), nevertheless, the two men share disparate ideological proclivities. Mr. Akoto Ampaw is a hidebound Nkrumaist, while Nana Akufo-Addo, of course, is a neoliberal market-oriented adherent.

What is equally significant to bear in mind is that the Special Prosecutor will not be a lone ranger. Rather, he will only be one of several legal lights in the sub-department that he will be heading. The work of the Office of the Special Prosecutor will also be open to public scrutiny and judicial review, and so Mr. Short’s call for transparency is decidedly redundant and grossly misplaced.

Ultimately, what is most significant here is that the Special Prosecutor gets quickly named, at least publicly and formally, and sets to work immediately in the interest of social justice. He is already nearly a year behind schedule, which only gives him and his staff barely three years within which to unearth corrupt activities going back nearly a decade. This is not the time to unnecessarily add unto the bureaucratic red-tape. It is time to get down to business, pronto!

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

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