The committee empanelled by Chief Justice Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo to look into the alleged abuse of power and corruption scandal that has rocked the Electoral Commission (EC), will today meet the committee and the petitioners.
According to sources, the five-member committee, to be chaired by a Supreme Court judge, will use the maiden meeting to explain the procedures, as well as the terms of reference to the petitioners and the respondents.
Apart from a Supreme Court judge chairing the committee, two other Court of Appeal judges (male and female), as well as two other members nominated by the Council of State (female and male), are also panel members.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that the Chief Justice had already written to all the parties involved to appear before the committee with their lawyers if any, at 1:00 pm today.
There is the possibility that the Chief Justice will formally ask the EC chairperson, Charlotte Osei, together with her two deputies – Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, in-charge of Corporate Services and Alhaji Amadu Sulley, in-charge of Operations – to step aside for the investigations to commence.
DAILY GUIDE has learnt also that since the problems of the EC escalated, the commission had not been able to meet, with decisions that need attention being singlehandedly addressed by Ms Charlotte Osei.
The probe is being undertaken pursuant to Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution after petitions and counter-petitions had been sent to President Akufo-Addo against the three top officials of the electoral body.
Prima Facie Case
The impeachment committee was established because the Chief Justice in a preliminary investigation reportedly established a prima facie case against the three EC chiefs following separate petitions filed against them.
A source said several infractions in the award of contracts at the EC would feature prominently in the committee’s investigations.
The preliminary investigations into the scandal commenced last August when the Chief Justice wrote officially to the commissioners to file their official responses to the allegations levelled against them in the respective petitions.
The whole action against the EC gurus was triggered by a petition sent to the presidency by Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, who was acting on behalf of some unnamed staff of the commission, seeking to trigger impeachment proceedings against Charlotte Osei.
Mr Opoku-Agyeman may lead his clients before the committee today.
The allowances of some of the petitioners have allegedly been withdrawn by the chairperson, who is believed to have taken the path of victimization.
A litany of allegations were leveled against Mrs. Osei, including spending GH¢3.9 million to partition an office, receipt of a bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser from the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, spending about $14 million for district offices when the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) had authorized her to use only $7.5 million, as well as attending Cabinet meetings under President John Mahama’s administration, among others.
Later, another petition was filed by one Lawyer Douglas Seidu against the EC boss on grounds of breach of procurement practices and provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 633) (as amended), gross financial mismanagement as well as conflict of interest.
The petitioner alleged that Mrs. Osei put herself in a conflict of interest situation when she awarded a contract to Aerovote Security Printing (Ghana) Limited to print the pink sheets used for the 2016 general elections, insisting that the EC boss has strong business links with the director of Aerovote and pointed out that she (Mrs Charlotte Osei) had ‘arranged’ the deal even before the procurement process opened.
He claimed the EC chairperson ‘unilaterally’ awarded contracts worth GH¢249,018,895.03 and $71,406,388.80 in breach of procurement processes, and also awarded various contracts, including some for letterheads and logos for the commission that indicated gross financial mismanagement.
Charlotte Fights Back
Through her lawyers – Sory@Law, who are also the commission’s external solicitors – the EC boss initially hit back at her accusers, insisting that she had not been corrupt nor abused her office and rather accused her two deputies of deliberately scheming to frustrate her stay at post.
The chairperson, in her initial response, openly accused Mrs. Opoku-Amankwaa of signing contracts worth over $40 million without her knowledge and authorization between May and September 2015.
Illegal Votes Transfer
She also turned her attention to Amadu Sulley and said apart from transferring votes illegally in the run-up to the 2016 general election, he (Sulley) also pocketed huge amounts of cash from some political parties.
“The Deputy Chairperson Operations collected funds above GH¢6m in cash from some political parties for the organization of party primaries without recourse to the structures of the commission, and without the involvement of the finance department of the commission,” she said.
The fight became nastier when other unknown persons who appeared to be on the side of Mrs. Osei, sent a counter petition to the president to investigate her two deputies also for corruption and abuse of office.
Accusations and counter accusations then ensued between the EC boss on one hand and her two deputies on the other. They fought back strongly, trying to parry the chairperson’s allegations.
Mrs. Opoku-Amankwaa, for instance, said in a 25-point response to the EC chairperson’s public statement that, “The chairperson’s claim that there was a deliberate strategy to frustrate her work and tenure is palpably false and a figment of her own imagination.”
The deputy commissioner appeared to suggest that it was rather Mrs. Osei who was the problem at the commission and not her or Amadu Sulley.
“Her managerial deficiencies, coupled with her poor human relations and lack of appreciation for teamwork, are too manifest to escape public judgement,” Mrs. Opoku-Amankwaa said.
Amadu Sulley did not take issues lightly when he was accused of pocketing GH¢6 million from some parties.
“I don’t understand the motive of the chair to come out now to make this unfortunate allegation against me and the Deputy Chair, Finance/Administration,” he underscored.
He also accused Mrs. Osei of sidelining him in the daily operations at the commission.
He said he was taking legal advice and concluded with a sarcastic statement, “If you tell one lie you need a thousand lies to cover it!”
Currently, Mrs. Opoku-Amankwa is on interdiction following a complaint filed by Mrs. Osei; and she (Amankwaa) has been appearing at the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) over the alleged misuse of Endowment Fund of the commission’s staff.
Amadu Sulley, on the other hand, is still in office, but in the heat of the scandal accused Mrs. Charlotte Osei of sidelining him in the day-to-day management of the EC – a claim which suggested that the EC chairperson was running a ‘one-woman’ show.