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21.03.2006 General News

CHRAJ Needs Power To Prosecute — Adjaho

By Daily Graphic
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The Deputy Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Doe Adjaho, has called for an amendment of the 1992 Constitution to give prosecutorial powers to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to prosecute individuals found by the commission to be corrupt.

Alternatively, he added, the position of Attorney General (AG) should be detached from the Ministry of Justice and the former made a non-political position with powers to prosecute corrupt officials.

He said that was the only way the fight against corruption would be effective. Mr Adjaho was speaking at a West African regional workshop on advancing anti-corruption conventions in Accra yesterday.

The two day workshop is being attended by heads of anti-corruption agencies and legislators from the sub-region.

It was organised by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the local branch of Transparency International (TI). Mr Adjaho, who is also the Member of Parliament for Avenor Ave, said the role of CHRAJ should not only be investigative, adding that since it was an independent body, it was well placed to prosecute without fear.

The position of Attorney General, he added, if made non-political, would induce the holder of the office to prosecute corrupt officials "without looking over his shoulders".

He said it was not prudent to make the AG, his current position being political, to prosecute public officials, adding that because some of those officials were his colleagues, the AG would feel reluctant to do so. What is more, he added, the AG could be compelled by the appointing authority not to prosecute.

Mr Adjaho, who is also the Chairman of the Ghana Chapter of the African Parliamentary Network Against Corruption (APNET), noted that to fight corruption successfully, party colours needed to be put aside. He called for a bi-partisan approach to deal with the canker.

"If we want to fight corruption, we have to work together and put our party colours aside. If we use our party colours, we will fail," he added.

He also urged the President, Mr J. A. Kufuor, to make good his promise to ensure that the Freedom of Information Bill was passed, saying it was an essential tool in the fight against corruption.

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission of Nigeria, Mr Nuhu Ribadu, said his country was a typical example of a nation destroyed by corruption.

He said the country earned more than $400 billion in the last 30 years, yet it was one of the poorest in the world. That, he said, was because of massive corruption on the part of public officials.

He said although his organisation had done a lot to check the canker by prosecuting corrupt public officials and retrieving stolen moneys, much more needed to be done.

Mr Ribadu noted that there could not be development if corruption thrived and called for a collaboration between governments and civil society groups in the various countries in the sub-region to deal with corruption.

He also urged partners in the developed world to collaborate with developing countries to recover stolen moneys.

The United Nations Co-ordinator in Ghana, Mr Daouda Toure, said corruption undermined democratic institutions, retarded economic development, violated human rights, impeded the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and was a crime against the poor.

Story By Mark-Anthony Vinorkor