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Ghana’s new independent prosecutor nominee accused of links to government

By Jonas Nyabor, in Accra
Posted on Tuesday, 4 May 2021 12:43

Special Prosecutor-nominee Kissi Agyebeng

The Ghanaian government is hoping to invigorate its fight against official corruption by pushing forward a new candidate for the 3-year-old Office of the Special Prosecutor after the unexpected resignation of the office's first Special Prosecutor in November 2020 -- Kissi Agyebeng.

For a government that won power on the back of a strong anti-corruption campaign, but then faced a barrage of public criticism over opaque deals, this is a fresh chance to prove its credentials. Not everyone is convinced.

Ghana’s Attorney General, Godfred Dame, has nominated a private legal practitioner and law lecturer to be the country’s new special prosecutor: his mandate is investigating and prosecuting corrupt individuals and organisations.

This comes after the sudden resignation of the first special prosecutor, Martin Amidu, on November 16, 2020, over claims that President Nana Akufo-Addo was interfering with his work and trying to make him a  ‘poodle’ of the government.

Amidu’s decision provided ammunition for the country’s biggest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to accuse the Akufo-Addo-led government of corruption during the heated December 2020 elections.

Three months after winning that contest, the government is making fresh attempts to get a new special prosecutor into office. Kissi Agyebeng, the nominee is 42, and a law lecturer.

He has also been in private legal practice in Ghana for over 18 years. However, compared to his predecessor, he does not have a well-developed, public, anti-corruption record. This last point is problematic, even though many contemporaries believe he is qualified to take over the special prosecutor’s office.

“He has the intellectual capacity to man that office because he is a criminal law lecturer,” said Abraham Amaliba, the director of legal affairs for the opposition party.

“What he lacks is the political clout to fight public sector corruption. I’m comparing him to his predecessor, because [in Amidu’s] previous life he fought corruption,” Amaliba said.