AG CHASES SABOTEURS, SECESSIONISTS
The new Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has said he is prioritizing cases involving economic crimes and recent secession issues.
He has therefore put in a request to the Judicial Service through the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, to dedicate a few judges for the speedy trial of such cases and has also served notice that the AG is going to sue indolent public officers whose actions undermine the interests of the state, cause economic losses and prevent the AG from effectively defending the state in suits.
Mr. Dame said this when he paid a courtesy call on the Chief Justice at his office yesterday in the company of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Yvone Atakora-Obuobisa; Solicitor General, Helen Ziwu; and the Directors at the Office of the AG.
“I already told His Lordship the Chief Justice that there was the need for us to prioritize the fight against economic crimes, for the fight against economic crime was one that was significant to the whole nation, it was one that affected every person whether in Elubo or in Walewale because if amounts were taken from the coffers of the state it was a drain on the tax payer and therefore there was the need for us to ensure an expeditious trial of commercial crime,” Mr. Dame indicated.
He also suggested a change in statutes to ensure the Office of the AG was in a position to sue any public officer whose action led to judgment debt to ensure that they were personally held responsible for their actions.
The AG also touched on some areas of priorities, one of which was a boost in the human resource capacity of the office of the AG.
He lamented the lack of resources, inadequate staff and the equipment such as computers and desks as some of the major challenges affecting the AG’s Office that needed to be addressed as soon as possible.
He indicated that there were just about 20 chief state attorneys nationwide and reiterated the need to recruit more staff and make the condition of service more attractive so that more private lawyers were willing to work for the office.
“I recognise that the AG’s Office is inadequately staffed and indeed there is the need for us to boost the number of personnel, the number of state attorneys we have. Apart from that, even equipping them properly to undertake the demand of their work is very necessary,” he said.
Mr. Dame also indicated that the Ministry of Finance had allocated funds for the completion of a 10-storey building meant to be the Office of the AG but had been abandoned for the past 15 years, saying, “Thankfully the Ministry of Finance seems to be aligned and they have actually allocated the sums required for the completion of the building. I will just follow up and ensure a release of the sums.”
Again, Mr. Dame touched on the need for the AG, who constitutionally is the chief legal advisor of the government, to ensure that any opinion, every agreement that emanated from the office were thoroughly scrutinized to meet the demands of the people to ensure the judicious use of state resources.
“So the AG is supposed to ensure that agreements are not undertaken in ways as to cause unnecessary loss to the state or to be a burden on the tax payer and also agreements are scrutinized to ensure that the nation reaps the fullest benefits from it,” Mr. Dame added.
Mr. Dame also disclosed that he was taking steps on developing a bill for alternative sentencing to introduce community sentencing, fines, among others as a way of decongesting the overcrowded prisons across the country.
The Chief Justice asked the AG to take another look at the state attorneys that were assigned to criminal appeals, especially those at the Supreme Court, adding that such cases should be handled by chief state attorneys and principal state attorneys and not their juniors.
He also advised the AG to take another look at how constitutional matters were handled by his office as such cases were in the interest of all Ghanaians and must be attended to as soon as possible.
Justice Jones Victor Dotse, a Justice of the Supreme Court, also advised the AG to appoint a dedicated officer who would monitor the movement of cases within his department for effective prosecution.
Also present at the meeting were justices Paul Baffoe-Bonnie and Samuel Marful-Sau, and the Judicial Secretary, Justice Cynthia Parmela Addo.