Anti-corruption campaigner and former Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Vitus Azeem has expressed dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court’s (SC) ruling in upholding the eligibility of the appointment of Martin Amidu as Special Prosecutor (SP) at the age of 66 following a suit filed by former Deputy Attorney General, Dr. Dominic Ayine.
Dr. Dominic Ayine argued that Mr Amidu was 66 when he was appointed as the Special prosecutor and therefore per the laws of Ghana he was ineligible to hold the office. It was his contention that by a true and proper interpretation of Articles 190 (1) (d), 199 (1), 199 (4) and 295 of the 1992 Constitution, the retiring age of all holders of public offices created pursuant to Article 190 (1) (d) was 60 years and not beyond 65 years.
He prayed on the Court to declare Martin Amidu’s appointment as unconstitutional but the Court in a 5-2 majority decision on Wednesday [May 13], dismissed the motion.
Justices Anin Yeboah [Chief Justice], Bafffoe Bonnie, Marfo Sau, Nene Amegatse and Prof Ashie Kotey formed the majority in dismissing the motion whilst Justices Sulley Gbadegbe and Agnes Dodzi dissented.
Vitus Azeem in commenting on the ruling on JoyNews’ ‘PM Express’ program on Wednesday [May 13] monitored by MyNewsGh.com, said the Supreme does not have the right to amend the constitution as the law does not provide an exemption in the office of the Special Prosecutor Act that says that the Special Prosecutor can be above 65 years old.
“I think that we should not be looking at just Martin Amidu. It is not Martin Amidu. It is the position although this case was involving Martin Amidu…The point is there are already a number of people who are already occupying certain public positions who are above 65 years and so like you said, the far-reaching implications, this only means that those who have been occupying those positions illegally since 2017 are now being told that it is okay for them to continue to stay in office. The President has not contravened the constitution which I don’t agree with.
I think that the constitution is very clear. I have looked at the law, there is no exemption in the OSP Act that says that the SP can be above 65 years old.
I have not seen that so I do not understand the basis for that decision although like he said, maybe there are reasons but I haven’t seen any exemptions for that position and base on that I think that even though civil societies and anti-corruption campaigners were happy about his appointment, it is not to do with the individual. It is to do with the law and I don’t think that the Supreme Court has the right to amend the Constitution.
So from my view, I think there is a problem with the decision unless they explain tomorrow that maybe there are other reasons that us as laymen do not understand… [But] let me say this, I have written about this on my Facebook page a number of times before in 2016, 2017 about people that are above 65 and are occupying public positions and sometime in 2018 a list of these people came out suggesting they were going to go but the Minister of Information came out to deny that it was not true.
Those people have remained in their positions up to date so it is even more a political issue than just the office of the Special Prosecutor and that is worrying.”
Mr. Azeem continued that “the Supreme Court has endorsed it so you can no longer say that maybe the Executive Director of the Forest Commission should not be there…You cannot say somebody else should not be in that position even though the person could be above 70 years.”
“I do not know whether that is okay with our present democratic dispensation. If there is no public office set up, there will be no public officer appointed to”, he stressed.
Source: MyNewsGh.com/ Evans Osei-Bonsu/ 2020.