Martin Amidu

Former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, says the description of some statements as ‘prejudicial commentary’ by the Attorney-General, Godfred Dame, is part of attempts by the Akufo-Addo government to gag citizens.

According to him, such attempts to silence the citizenry are also to prevent people from challenging the weaponisation of the criminal justice system.

Touching on a press statement issued by Mr Dame on Wednesday, the citizen vigilante said this tactic by the governing government is becoming “suffocatingly oppressive and unbearable”.

“The Attorney-General insinuated that legitimate criticisms of the investigatory and prosecutorial functions of his office ‘unduly interferes with the work of State Prosecutors performing their constitutional function of prosecuting crime in Ghana’ without pointing to any provision under the 1992 Constitution which proscribes the sovereign people of Ghana from holding to account State Prosecutors who allow themselves to be misused to abuse the very prosecutorial constitutional function they purport to perform in aid of an oppressive Government whose aim is to weaponise the system of criminal justice administration to achieve electoral political objects in an election cycle,” he added.

His comment comes on the back of an announcement by the AG that his office has taken note of the recent commentary on many high-profile criminal cases which transgresses permissible limits of free speech, unduly interfere with the work of state prosecutors performing their constitutional function of prosecuting crime in Ghana, and tends to put unnecessary pressure on the courts.

In the press release, the AG said some cases that have been the subject of unwarranted public commentary include the Republic vs. James Gyakye Quayson, who is standing trial for perjury, deceit and other charges, Republic vs. Dr Stephen Opuni & 2 Others who are been tried for causing over GH¢217 million financial loss to the state, and Republic vs. Cassiel Ato Forson & 2 Others who are also in court for allegedly causing €2.37 million financial loss to the state.

The statement added that the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice had observed that some comments on these cases “clearly exceed the bounds of acceptable speech as they seek to disparage prosecutors in the eyes of the public and frustrate prosecution of those cases.”

Again, “some of the comments are orchestrated to pervert the course of justice and/or prejudice the fair hearing and determination of the cases.”

Mr Godfred Dame, therefore, reminded Ghanaians of the principle of equality of all persons before the law as enshrined in Article 17(1) of the Constitution, adding that no person living in Ghana, citizen or non-citizen, is above the laws of Ghana or immune from an application of same.

“The Attorney-General’s constitutional responsibility for the ‘initiation and conduct of all prosecutions of criminal offences’,  implies a duty to prosecute a crime committed in Ghana, after proper investigations have been conducted, irrespective of the political, race, colour, ethnic, religion, economic or social status of the culprit. State Attorneys assisting the Attorney General in the performance of this hallowed constitutional mandate, operate under extreme pressure and are exposed to severe risks.

“They have the right to prosecute cases freely in a court of law just as private legal practitioners enjoy a right to defend their clients, free from abuse and attacks on their character,” the statement concluded.

But rubbishing this stance, Mr Amidu insists that every opinion and view must be respected by the AG.

“One expects the Attorney-General to have realized that the “members of the legal profession of considerable standing” he alluded to in his press release have within them men and women who hold convincing considered opinions and disagree professionally and ethically with the weaponisation of the investigation and prosecution of the processes of criminal justice administration under his watch.

“These “members of the legal profession with considerable standing” include his predecessor Attorneys-General from both political divides who have exercised the discretionary power embodied in the concept of nolle prosequi and know better than an advocacy or appeal to the Attorney-General or the President as the repository of the executive power to order the entry 2 of a nolle prosequi in a criminal case pending in court cannot be prejudicial to the administration of justice,” he said.

Mr Amidu urged the AG to be independent and impartial when it comes to the execution of his role so as to prevent the “negative perceptions or suspicions that he is being used by the President to weaponise the Office of the Attorney-General against political opponents.”