President Akufo-Addo says the Office of the Special Prosecutor was adequately resourced in terms of finance to enable Martin Amidu function well.
Martin Amidu in his resignation letter to the President had accused the government of not paying him and his Deputy for almost 2 years.
But the President in his response to the claims by Mr. Amidu said the alleged operational challenges said to be encountered by the Special Prosecutor had no factual basis.
“Indeed, the records show that in keeping with his resolve to sufficiently equip the Office in the discharge of its mandate under Act 959, the President provided your Office the necessary financial and administrative support. Your Office received more than a sufficient budgetary allocation to assist it in its anti-corruption fight. Remarkably, your letter of resignation alludes to the consistent deprivation of finances and a financial handicap imposed on the Office of the Special Prosecutor. You also bemoan the non-payment of the salaries of yourself and the Deputy Special Prosecutor in a manner that suggests the Government’s failure to do so. Yet, your Office had been adequately funded to pay for salaries. The impression given by you that there was a deliberate intention to ensure your office didn’t function is the more startling”.
For instance, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that in June 2018, GHS 1 million was released to the Office to enable it undertake set-up activities after the office requested and was granted a commencement authorization to incur capital expenditure of GHS 2.79 million.
He said the Special Prosecutor, however, failed to request for the monies to undertake the Office’s activities.
“You [Special Prosecutor] failed to make a request for payment in respect of the related procurement”, he said.
Furthermore, the President revealed that in 2019, the office submitted a budget proposal of GHS 360 million out of which GHS 180 million was approved and appropriated for the Office, an amount which is said to be higher than the budget of some ministries in the current government.
“Although your Office did not apply for the release of funds in 2019, the Ministry of Finance released GHS 65.69 million and transferred it into the bank account of your Office for your operations. Only a little of over GHS 5.22 million had been utilized by you as head of the Office of the Special Prosecutor”, the statement noted.
To this end, the unutilized amount of over GHS 60.47million which should have been returned to the Consolidated Fund in accordance with administrative practices was rolled over by the Ministry of Finance to the following year to be utilized by the office.
The office is also said to have not accessed the amount on GIFMIS, the Government payments platform.
“Your Office has so far spent on GHC308,751 on the compensation of employees. Taking account of the amount that was rolled over from the year 2019, the account of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bank of Ghana, as of 12 November 2020, shows a balance of GH460.47 million. The Compensation Budget for the Office of Special Prosecutor in 2019 was not utilised because your Office was not able to recruit relevant staff by the end of the year”, portions of the statement further stated.
Below is the details
Alleqed Operational Difficulties Encountered by the Office of Special Prosecutor
- At page 3 of your Letter, you allude to various matters in respect of operational challenges encountered by the Office of the Special Prosecutor, which militated against the independence of the Office. The facts are that consequent upon your appointment
as Special Prosecutor, the President instructed the Chief of Staff of the Presidency and the Minister of Finance to ensure that they do their utmost to assist in the expeditious set-up of your Office. Indeed, the records show that in keeping with his resolve to sufficiently equip the Office in the discharge of its mandate under Act 959, the President provided your Office the necessary financial and administrative support. Your Office received more than a sufficient budgetary allocation to assist it in its anticorruption fight. Remarkably, your leter of resignation alludes to the consistent deprivation of finances and a financial handicap imposed on the Office of the Special Prosecutor. You also bemoan the non-payment of the salaries of yourself and the Deputy Special Prosecutor in a manner that suggests Government’s failure to do so. Yet, your Office had been adequately funded to pay for salaries. The impression given by you that there was a deliberate intention to ensure your office didn’t function is the more startling.
- In 2018, an amount of was released to your Office to enable it undertake set-up activities. In June 2018, your Office requested and was granted Commencement Authorisation to incur Capital Expenditure of GHC2,790,000.00. You failed to make a request for payment in respect of the related procurement.
- In 2019, your Office submitted a Budget Proposal of GHC360 million out of which was approved and appropriated for the Office. This amount was higher than the budget of some Ministries in the current Government, and was made up of GHC33.47million for Compensation of Employees, GHC88.01million for Goods and Services and GHC58.68million for Capital Expenditure. Although your Office did not apply for release of funds in 2019, the Ministry of Finance released GHS65.69million and transferred it into the bank account of your Office for your operations. Only a little of over GHC5.22miIIion had been utilised by you as head of the Office of the Special Prosecutor. In accordance with administrative practices, the unutilised amount of over GHC60.47million should have been returned to the Consolidated Fund, as happens to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies which do not utilise their budget. However, in the case of your Office, the Ministry of Finance rolled over the excess amount of over GHC60.47million to the following year to be utilised by it. Yet, the funds still remain in the bank account of the Office as at 12 November, 2020.
- In 2020, the Approved Budget for your Office was out of which has so far been released, consisting of for Compensation of Employees. Curiously, your Office has DQEaccessed the amount on GIFMIS, the Government’s payments platform. Your Office has so far spent only GHC308,751 on compensation of employees. Taking account of the amount that was rolled over from the year 2019, the account of the Office of the Special Prosecutor at Bank of Ghana, as at 12 November 2020, shows a balance of GH#60.47 million.
- The Compensation Budget for the Office of Special Prosecutor in 2019 was not utilized because your Office was not able to recruit relevant staff by the end of the year. In 2019 financial clearance was given to your Office to recruit 249 staff. As at the end of the year the staff had been recruited. The failure of your Office to recruit personnel cannot be laid at the doorstep of government. It is imperative to state that your Office, duly established as a procurement entity by law, is clothed with full capacity to engage
in procurement of goods, works and services. Prior to the grant of “procurement entity status” to your Office, you publicly attributed your failure to recruit and engage in proper procurement of goods, works and services to the failure of . the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to consider and grant your application:The PPA has since granted your application but no recruitment has been done. Whilst having the liberty to freely express yourself, it is most unfair of you to misrepresent the nature and degree of support accorded to your Office by Government, when the records suggest otherwise. As already demonstrated, sufficient budgetary allocation and release of funds for recruitment of staff by your Office had been made by Government. Your Office’s failure to utilise allocated funds, even though it claimed an urgent need to, is not a question that can be answered by anyone else in Government.
- The Ministry of Finance subsequently re-issued the clearance to recruit staff in the year 2020. You insisted on being allowed to manage the payroll of your Office because of confidentiality and independence. The Controller and Accountant-General was given approval to make monthly releases to your Office based on its request for funds for payment of salaries for all staff. Information available to the Office of the President indicates that only two persons were recruited by your Office and that the rest of the staff of the Office are on secondment from the Ministry of the Interior and the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department.
- It is instructive that with regard to Capital Expenditure (CAPEX), no request has ever been received by Government from the Office of the Special Prosecutor. It is quite apparent that, contrary to the impression you regularly create in public, your Office was solely responsible for the failure to recruit. The Government made the necessary budgetary allocation and followed up with actual release of funds. Your Office failed to utilise same even though it had full capacity as a procurement entity to procure goods, works and services.
- It must be stated that from the time the Office of Special Prosecutor was established to date, the Office of the President has been making payments for sundry expenses such as utility bills, waste management bills and servicing of air conditioners etc., even when money had been released to the Office of the Special Prosecutor from its approved budget.
- You sought to blame the housing of the Office of Special Prosecutor in “a three bedroom and boys quarters accommodation” on the Government. Once again, the facts do not bear out your assertions and insinuations. It is evident that responsibility for this situation can be attributable only to your good self. Your Office rejected various allocations of suitable accommodation with the result that you remained at your present accommodation by choice and not some grand design by Government to ensure your office didn’t function as it should.
- On 17 September, 2018, a meeting was held at the Office of the Chief of Staff, at which you were present to explore means of addressing the urgent challenges of the Office of Special Prosecutor, one of which undoubtedly, was accommodation. A Committee was set up to identify a building suitable for housing the Office. The Committee set out immediately to embark on the search for accommodation for the Office.
- On 18 September, 2018, a cluster of buildings consisting of one two-storey building and MIO single-storey buildings were identified opposite the Bank Hospital at Cantonments, Accra.
- On 20 September, 2018, the Commitee, together with the Deputy Chief of Staff, your good self, your Secretary and other staff of your Office, inspected the buildings. After inspection, you expressed satisfaction with the buildings. A team from the Ministry of Works and Housing immediately took measurements and was ready to undertake the necessary alterations to meet the specific demands of your Office.
- On 21 September, 2018, you invited a team from the Architectural Engineering Services Limited (AESL) to inspect and expedite action on the renovation works.
- Surprisingly, on 4 October, 2018, you placed a telephone call to the Chief of Staff to indicate preference for another building belonging to the erstwhile Ghana National Trading Corporation (GNTC) close to the British High Commission at Ridge instead of the cluster of buildings opposite the Bank Hospital. On the same 4 October, 2018, the Chief of Staff by letter (SCR/DA96/135/01/A) instructed the Ministry of Trade and Industries (MOTI) to release the said building to your Office.
- In order to secure that building for your Office, the Office of the President actually constructed a fence wall to ward off encroachers while processes were initiated to award the contract for the renovation of the building.
- While the renovation of the GNTC building was underway, you halted the works and requested that a ten (10) storey building at Ridge belonging to the GETFund be renovated instead for occupation by your Office. The Office of the President once again obliged this request. It is noteworthy that this particular building had been allocated to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, which had actually paid for the place and yet priority was given to your office and GIPC asked to relinquish same.
- On 2 April, 2019, a meeting was convened at the Office of the President with officers of the GETFund, at which you were present, to discuss the road map for renovation of the building for use by your Office.
- On 3 April, 2019, representatives of your Office and officers from CONSAR Ltd and Messrs. Evans Anfom and Associates met to conduct a joint inventory and inspection of defects with the facility. You subsequently generated your own list of defects contained in an eight (8) page document. The contractor nonetheless graciously accepted, compared and merged with the defects earlier jointly identified with you.
- By 14 May, 2020, Messrs. Consar Ltd had carried out all the remedial works on the building and same was certified by GETFund as ready to be handed over to your Office.
- On 10 July, 2020, you wrote to the Office of the President informing that the procurement plan for your Office for 2020 had been approved and that the award of a single source contract for the conversion of the 10 storey building owned by GETFund into suitable office accommodation with appropriate demarcations was part of the approved plan. The Office of the President granted the Office of the Special Prosecutor permission to initiate procurement processes for the award by single-source procurement, as requested by you, of the contract for the conversion of the building into suitable office accommodation and divisions.
- GETFund had expressed the intention to offer the building for sale. As you are aware, the Office of the President agreed to acquire it for your Office. Pending conclusion of negotiations for the purchase of the building, the Office of the President agreed to rent the building for three months for immediate occupation of three floors by your Office, since the landlady of the premises currently occupied by your Office had indicated the intention not to renew the tenancy agreement on its expiry. You flatly refused to accept this arrangement on the basis that your Office could not share the building with any other office for security concerns.
- By letter dated 29 July, 2020 (SCR/DA/287/372/02), the Chief of Staff informed you that the GETFund building was ready for occupation by your Office and requested a convenient date to handover the building to you. You refused to do so, and in your letter dated 3 August, 2020 (OSP/SCR/24/33/20), you stated that “it is my considered view that if your proposal for handing over the GETFund building to the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) was wittingly made on a settled conviction that you have been able to secure a fitting accommodation with all the divisions for occupation by the OSP, then, the proposal ought to have been made to H.E. the President to fix a date for the public commissioning of the building for the occupation of this Office without any further delay”.
- On 11 September, 2020, the Chief of Staff wrote to you indicating receipt of a letter dated 26 August, 2020 from the GETFund confirming release of the entire building to Central Government for occupation by the Office of Special Prosecutor. The Chief of Staff, in this letter, informed you of the release of the keys to the main entrance of the building to your Office and further, that, the keys to other doors in the building had been left in the locks for access. Security had also been deployed to secure the premises until such time as you made your own arrangements for security desired by you. The Chief of Staff’s letter and the keys to the GETFund building were delivered to your Office at 2pm of the same day but you instructed your officers not to accept any parcel from the Office of the President.
- On 14 September, 2020, you wrote to the Chief of Staff conveying your refusal “to take possession of a bunch of keys disrespectfully sent to your Office in an envelope through a messenger and to ask the messenger to return them to the sender”. The Chief of Staff by another letter dated 18 September, 2020, explained to you the reason for delivery of the keys to you in an envelope and urged you to reconsider your rejection of the keys.
- With the greatest respect, your decision not to accept the keys to the 10 storey building identified by you and renovated after rejecting other buildings jointly identified with you, is very troubling and does not reflect a desire to establish an operational office for the Special Prosecutor. Indeed, your behaviour, in connection With the acquisition of suitable accommodation for the Office of Special Prosecutor, remains inexplicable and unwarranted. Suffice to say that it is undeniable and abundantly clear on the facts that every effort was made by Government to assign your Office a suitable premises from which to operate efficiently and effectively.
- Finally, you also accuse the President of being a judge in his own cause. This is the unkindest cut of all. You did not and have not alleged that the President is, or could be, the subject of adverse findings or investigations arising from your assessment report of the Agyapa transaction. It beggars belief, therefore, that you would insinuate that the President has, himself, something to hide and seeks to be “a judge in his own cause”. As a lawyer of many years’ standing, there is no doubt that you know that if one is not a party to or has an interest in a matter, one simply cannot be described as a judge in his own cause. That statement is most regrettable.
We hope that the above statement of facts settles the issues and allegations contained in your Letter and that the general public will now have a clearer understanding of the
very serious matters you have raised.
Please accept the President’s best wishes.
MARTIN A. B. K. AMIDU, ESQ. P.O. BOX AN17010