Saturday 21 April 2018

New Ghana anti-corruption tsar takes office

New Ghana anti-corruption tsar takes office
(AFP (eng) 02/23/18)
New Ghana anti-corruption tsar takes office

Ghana on Friday formally appointed a new special prosecutor to look into corruption claims, a key pledge of President Nana Akufo-Addo's government.

Martin Amidu, a former attorney general and justice minister, was officially sworn in as special prosecutor at a ceremony in the capital, Accra.

Akufo-Addo said he expected him to work "vigorously, with courage, without fear or favour, ill-will or malice, in accordance with the rule of law".

"The establishment of this office is for a high purpose and must not under any circumstances be used as an avenue for persecution or vengeance," he added.

Parliament this week approved Amidu, 66, a veteran politician and anti-corruption campaigner, who ran unsuccessfully with John Atta Mills in the 2000 presidential elections.

His appointment comes as Ghana slipped three points in global watchdog Transparency International's latest Corruption Perception Index.

The West African nation scored 40 out of 100 on perceived levels of public sector corruption in 2017, where a score of 100 indicates corruption-free.

In 2016, Ghana scored 43/100 and 47/100 in 2015.

The executive-secretary of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, Beauty Emefa Narteh, said the TI report was "a wake-up call" and showed that Amidu's appointment was needed.

Akufo-Addo said in his state-of-the-nation address earlier this month that the special prosecutor's role was "an essential step in our overall strategy to combat corruption".

Amidu will investigate and prosecute corruption in the private and public sectors, streamlining what the government said were "institutional bottlenecks" in the fight against graft.

Narteh said inflated contracts had been a major issue in the government of Akufo-Addo's predecessor, John Dramani Mahama.

Some cases, including a high-profile expose of bribe-taking by judges and court workers to sway verdicts, had not yet seen criminal prosecutions, she added

Amidu has said he wants to change a culture of corruption in Ghana. "It is an invisible violence that kills millions without anybody seeing it," he told a parliamentary hearing.

"Taking millions of cedis (dollars) for oneself under illegal circumstances deprives people of good health, education and all the developmental facilities you can give.

"What I want to do is to be able to set up a credible institution with a credible culture which will be able to block the leakages and seepages."

Stopping corruption at the ports alone could free Ghana from dependence on foreign aid, he added.

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