Mr Speaker, today should be a very solemn day for Ghana. This is the day we have set out to consider the policy drive behind the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill.
Mr Speaker, the preamble to a speech or a document is the introduction or preface to that speech or document. In a document such as the Constitution of a country, the opening statement is the bold encapsulation of the spirit, the principle behind the clothing and indeed, the wording together of the various provisions contained in the 1992 Constitution.
In the very preamble of the 1992 Constitution, the people of Ghana, whom we represent in this House declared and affirmed their commitment to freedom, justice, probity and accountability.
That is a collective resolve of the citizens of this country. It is not, and I repeat, that it is not the property of any political party. Let nobody deceive himself. The people of this country in a referendum voted unanimously to adopt this Constitution which comes with this preamble.
So, probity, accountability, freedom and justice Mr Speaker, are the collective resolve of the people of this country. So, for those of them who pride themselves as the initiators of probity and accountability, if we want to extrapolate probity and accountability, nobody should be running away from it then. [Uproar]--
Mr Speaker, the people of Ghana have pledged to establish a framework of Government which shall secure for ourselves and posterity, the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity.
Mr Speaker, the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity, equality of prosperity for ourselves and posterity can only ensue where there is rule of law. The blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and equality of prosperity for the people of Ghana and posterity would be elusive if corruption, selfishness, greed and avarice parade our streets and walk our podiums in such swaggering fashion, like the fashion shows that we witness in this country.
Mr Speaker, to corrupt, as the Hon Minority Leader has said, in a matter of the application of public resources, means to bribe, to decay or cause a deterioration
of or to something. Corruption is the application of public resources for a private gain. It involves dishonesty, it is morally reprehensible, corruption hurts the poor - as our own Kofi Annan has said, more than the well placed in society.
Mr Speaker, it is for this reason that the Constitution enjoins the State in article 35(8), and Mr Speaker with your permission let me read article 35(8) of the Constitution for the elucidation of Hon Members.
“The State shall take steps to eradicate corrupt practices and the abuse of power.”
Mr Speaker, that exactly is what is intended to be done by the Bill titled “The Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017”. In July 2017, the Bill found its way into this Chamber rather inadvertently due to some miscommunication. Later, it was made to appear that either the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice or the Hon Majority Leader wanted to have the Bill rushed through Parliament. That generated some initial apprehensions.
Indeed and in truth, and as a matter of public record, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice from the very outset, never intended this Bill to be considered under a Certificate of Urgency (CoU). She wanted an engagement of as many stakeholders as possible.
The Hon Minority Leader is shouting on the side-lines that I did. I never did Mr Speaker. I think that for the records, we had gone to Koforidua and coming back, I liaised with the Clerks-at-The-Table to find out whether the Bill was ready and the information that was given to me was that indeed, the Hon Attorney-General and
the Minister for Justice had indicated that the Bill should be laid in Parliament. What I did not do further was to consult the Hon Attorney-General and the Minister for Justice whether indeed the Bill was ready.
So, the Clerks-at-The-Table in their zeal to have the Bill come to Parliament, programmed it and that day I was late in coming to Parliament and when I came, I saw it on the Order Paper, and I thought that it ensued from the communication between the Table Office and the Attorney-General.
Later, it turned out to be a miscommunication. But the good thing is when the Bill was referred to the Committee, the Committee in their wisdom decided that no, it could not be considered under a CoU and that is why we are here today.
Mr Speaker, today, Parliament has heard from the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the details of the policy and principles of the Bill. The defects of the existing regime, the remedies proposed to deal with the defects and the necessity for its introduction as enjoined by article 106 (2) (a) of the 1992 Constitution.
Mr Speaker, issues have been made about article 88 (3) but clearly, article 88 (4) provides for a delegation of responsibility by the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. It is as simple as that.
Mr Speaker, what the Bill seeks to do, is to lift the opportunity afforded by article 88 (4) to place this on a higher pedestal, and to give the officer who the Attorney- General may designate a greater focus. Mr Speaker that is the remit of the Bill.