Godfred Yeboah Dame, Deputy Attorney-General (AG) and Minister for Justice, has indicated that his predecessor, Dr Dominic Akuritinga Ayine, sought to mix up the terms Public Office and Public Service.
He explained that Article 295 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana defines the two expressions, namely, “Public Office” and “Public Service” differently.
According to the Deputy AG, the only qualification for a person to be a Public Officer is to draw salaries or emoluments out of public funds or the Consolidated Fund.
“Indeed Article 295 of the Constitution defines Public Office to be an office, the emoluments attached to which are paid out of the Consolidated Fund and then the Public Service also defined as any office in the civil service. So, you find that Public Service has broader elements in relation to the narrow definition of a public officer and this imply that there are many categories of public office holders,” he told Paul Adom-Otchere on Good Evening Ghana on Thursday.
He explained further that persons holding career offices in the public service thus retire at the age of 60 as clearly defined in Article 199 of the 1992 Constitution.
“The Constitution has a separate chapter devoted to the Public Services of Ghana and Article 190 (1) defines Public Services, and the first on the list is the Civil Service of government and it goes down to the Judicial Service, the CHRAJ, the Parliament of Ghana, the Audit Service amongst others,” he stated.
He noted that the President has the power under the constitution to appoint all public servants in Ghana. “So, Article 194 states that the power to appoint a person to hold an office in the public service of Ghana, is vested in the president upon the advice of the governing council given in consultation with the Public Service Commission.”
Lawyer Dame stated that the Attorney-General in the Ayine v Amidu case pointed it out that the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) falls within the category of persons anticipated under Article 199 which stipulates the retiring ages of public service holders.
He said that Dr Ayine reduced the argument of Martin Amidu’s age into simple terms which implies that a public officer is a public servant and all public servants retire at the age of 60.
“That is a constitutional fallacy because not all public officers are public servants but indeed all public servants are public officers. So, public office has that broad umbrella,” he stressed.
He stated further that the Supreme Court distinguished that the Special Prosecutor, was appointed into the broad public office.
“Martin Amidu is a public officer because his salaries are paid out of the consolidated fund but Parliament in exercise of its powers enacted an Act of Parliament specifically making provisions for the manner of appointment of Martin Amidu,” said the deputy A-G. “The Act of Parliament gave a term of 7 years to the Special Prosecutor to retire.”