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Office of Special Prosecutor’s Bill does not need urgent treatment- Committee

By
Benjamin Mensah, GNA

Accra, July 22, GNA –
The Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Parliament
has rejected a request by the Government for the Office of the Special
Prosecutor’s Bill to be passed under a certificate of urgency and recommended
the bill be taken through all the normal processes.

The Minority National
Democratic Congress (NDC), earlier in the week, raised issues on constitutional
breaches, stating that the Bill had not been gazetted when it was first laid on
Tuesday and copies had not been made available for their perusal.

Following a debate as
to whether the Bill should be treated under a certificate of urgency, the
Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, directed the
Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to determine the
urgency or otherwise of the Bill in accordance with the 1992 Constitution and
the Standing Orders of the House.

The Committee, on
Friday, reported that it came to the “determination that more time would be
needed to allow for broader stakeholder consultation before passage.

“The Committee,
therefore, recommends to the House to adopt this Report and to pass the Office
of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 through the usual legislative procedure
and not in accordance with Article 106 (13) of the Constitution.”

Mr Ben Abdallah, the
Chairman of the Committee, and MP for Offinso South, told the plenary that:
“Going through the memorandum and the body of the Bill itself, we realised that
the Bill carries a lot of weighty issues that need to be discussed and,
therefore, need a broader stakeholder consultation and this cannot be done
within a short period of time.

“It was, therefore,
the considered opinion and view of the committee that in view of the reasons
mentioned above this bill cannot be treated under a certificate of urgency.”

The Committee, in its
report, noted also that the bill was of a sensitive nature and had generated
public interest.

However, the
Attorney-General’s Office “is overburdened in the discharge of its duties and,
therefore, the need to carve out some of its investigative and prosecutorial
duties to the proposed Office of the Special Prosecutor,” he said.

“The Committee does
not see any vacuum created by the absence of the Office of a Special Prosecutor
to warrant the Bill to be treated as urgent,” Mr Abdallah said.

President Nana Addo
Dankwa Akufo-Addo, during the electioneering in 2016, announced that an
Akufo-Addo led government would create an office of a special public prosecutor
to prosecute public sector corruption.

He said the office of
the special prosecutor would be created within six months in office if he won
the election.

In fulfilment of the
promise, the Bill on the Office of Special Prosecutor was laid on Tuesday,
amidst contentions from the Minority Side that it was not gazetted and members
did not have copies.

GNA

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