The Board Chairperson of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), Mrs Linda Ofori-Kwafo, has asked the public to disregard a list of cases making the rounds said to be cases that the office is working on.
She said the list, if authentic, should rather be a cause for concern for all, as it would mean that there was a mole in the office leaking information not meant for the public yet.
“The list that is supposed to come out, according to the law, is a list of investigated cases. So if anyone puts out a list of cases being investigated and others yet to be, it is not right,” she said during a roundtable discussion on the topic: “One year of the Office of the Special Prosecutor”.
It was organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), with its partners the African Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), which are also partners in the project, Corruption Watch.
Corruption Watch is supported by STAR-Ghana, Strengthening Action Against Corruption (STAAC), Accountable Democratic Institutions and Systems Strengthening (ADISS) and the CSO Coalition on the OSP.
Late last week, some newspapers published a list of cases purported to be investigated by the OSP.
Among the names of people mentioned as being under investigations at the office were a former Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Mr Mahama Ayariga, for suspected breaches in the procurement of some ambulances, and a former Minister for Gender Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, for the misappropriation of public funds.
Speaking at the event, Mrs Ofori-Kwafo charged Ghanaians to test the supposed list against the law laid out in Section 3 (3) of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act 2018 (Act 959).
She said as the chair of the board, she did not know about current investigations at the office, neither did any board member.
“If we knew, that would amount to interference in the operations of the office,” she said.
Mrs Ofori-Kwafo stressed the fact that the board was not involved in the day-to-day administration of the office, as that would amount to undermining the independence of the office.
“I know the expectation of Ghanaians is to see some prosecutions; however, we must make sure that the office works procedurally,” she stated.
She also dispelled rumours to the effect that the Special Prosecutor had refused to relocate to his completed office space, saying: “Steps are underway to get a bigger place for the office and work is still being done.”
The Director for Advocacy and Policy Engagement at CDD-Ghana, Dr Kojo Pumpuni Asante, in an assessment of the office since its establishment, said there were gaps to be filled at all the stages in the establishment of the office.
He said the appointment of an executive secretary to run the office and consult on the passage of the Legislative Instrument to operationalise the Special Prosecutor’s Act, 2017 (Act 915) was still outstanding.
According to him, although many things needed to be prioritised, the board needed to draft a medium-term strategic plan for the office.
“Not only does this ensure continuity at their early stage; it also provides a framework for those who want to support the office,” he said.
He also emphasised the need for stronger coordination among governmental anti-corruption institutions because of the duplication of efforts in investigations into the same issues.
For instance, he said, some tax evasion cases before the OSP were also being investigated by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
Dr Asante also identified gaps in the financing and operations of the OSP.
Participants in the discussion demanded openness from the OSP.
Mr Edem Senanu of the Citizens Movement Against Corruption urged the office to be transparent and open with information.
“I do not know whether it is the style of the Special Prosecutor not to give anything out, but it is not helpful,” he stressed.
Other participants wondered how structures had been set for the operation of the newly created six regions, but the government did not seem to have what it took to establish the office properly and completely.
Some participants were blunt and asked the board chair of the OSP whether she and other members of the board had declared their assets, to which Mrs Ofori-Kwafo responded, with a smile: “The process is on.”
There were murmurings by participants when a question was asked as to the budget of the OSP and the board chair said she did not know about that, since she was not involved in the day-to-day administration of the office.