Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Saturday June 30, 2018
Information Minister Dr. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid yesterday gave detailed account of the sacking of Electoral Commission (EC) Chairperson, Charlotte Osei and her two deputies.
He said once the committee set up by the Chief Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo to investigate the allegations after the establishment of a prima facie case completed its report, President Akufo-Addo had no option than to implement the recommendations made in its report per Article 146 (9) of the 1992 Constitution.
President Akufo-Addo relieved Mrs. Charlotte Osei and her two deputies Amadu Sulley, in-charge of Operations and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa in-charge of Corporate Services, who until her sacking was on interdiction on the instructions of the EC Boss, of their posts on Thursday evening, sparking heated political debate over the decision.
According to Eugene Arhin, Director of Communications at the Presidency, President Akufo-Addo came out of a cabinet meeting to interact with the three EC gurus one by one.
The president told them that he was removing them from office under Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution and gave them copies of the committee’s report.
However, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), under whose tenure all the three officers were elevated to their respective positions, is crying foul, claiming the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration was targeting Mrs. Charlotte Osei in order to rig the 2020 general elections.
They have threatened to make the country ungovernable through numerous demonstrations.
At the Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday, Dr. Mustapha Hamid, flanked by his deputy, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and a government spokesperson, Herbert Krapa, said that the evidence against the three EC gurus in the report was overwhelming and that the President was duty bound to follow the recommendations.
He said the committee’s report captured serious breaches of procurement laws and recommended their removal from office on grounds of “stated misbehavior and incompetence.”
He said there were six allegations against Mrs. Charlotte Osei filed by some 17 staff of the EC, as well as four each against Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwa, whose counter petition was filed by a non-staff of the commission.
“The Committee investigated complaints of serious misconduct, inappropriate exercise of office, serious misjudgment and breaches of the law against her and recommended her removal to the President. Like now, President John Mahama, at the time, had no option but to act first on the petition, and lastly on the recommendation of the Committee,” the minister said.
He added “the Committee found that the Electoral Commission did not observe any prudent administrative and financial management of the 2015 political parties’ primaries.”
The minister said the committee found that “the EC Director of Operations supervised political party primaries as a private commercial project, with funds paid directly into the personal accounts of key staff for functions to be performed.”
The committee, according to the minister, further said that “Alhaji Sulley defied all the known prudent financial administration practices and took over five million cedis in cash and kept same in the custody of individuals.”
“He allowed over GH¢6 million received on behalf of the Commission to be handled in a manner that decries any reasonable and prudent accounting principles, leaving room for fraud and misapplication of the money.”
“The other allegation that the Committee investigated was that the Deputy Chairperson in charge of Operations had persistently instructed officials to carry out illegal vote transfers on the Voter Management System in clear breach of the law and operational policies of the Commission. Documentary evidence was produced by the representative of STL, the contractor in charge of the EC electoral register database,” the minister said.
It added that Mrs. Charlotte Osei testified against Amadu Sulley on this issue.
The minister said “the same petitioner, who filed against Amadu Sulley, filed against the EC deputy chairperson in charge of corporate affairs. The Committee focused on four allegations, that she signed two contracts with Superlock Technologies Limited (STL) on 6 May, 2015 for $24,397,000 and $16,509,500 respectively without adhering to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act.”
The Information Minister added that the committee found out that “under her watch, EC staff endowment fund contributions for eight months, between 2013 and 2014 were not paid into the Staff Provident Fund at a time when she was Deputy Chairperson in charge of Finance and Administration and had direct supervision over the Fund.”
According to the Minister, the Committee found that there was no documentary evidence of engagement of the commission of the services of Sory@Law and that appointment of the private law firm was in breach of the Public Procurement Act.
“The events surrounding the engagement of Messrs Sory@Law as lawyers for the Electoral Commission show incompetence, ineptitude and dereliction of duty on the part of Mrs. Charlotte Osei, and we so find,” the minister quoted the report as saying against Mrs. Charlotte Osei.
The committee, the minister said, found that the EC boss unilaterally abrogated a duly signed contract on the grounds of breaches of the procurement law but turned around to award the same contract to the same company without going through proper procurement processes.
The committee, according to the minister, found that the EC boss decided to award contract for the partitioning of a new EC office, saying “the contracts awarded were GH¢3,976,244 instead of the approved rate of GH¢3,410,263 and GH¢209,443 instead of the approved figure of GH¢98,100. The Committee therefore held both to be unlawful.”
The award of contract for the construction of pre-fabricated District Offices for the Electoral Commission and contract for consultancy for the prefabricated works against the procurement rules was also found by the committee, according to the minister.
“From the evidence, the Committee held that the construction of the offices was divided into four lots and the chairperson personally awarded all four at the higher rate of $14,337,962.
This was in excess of $6,837,962.53 and that she awarded the contracts without reference to the Entity Tender Committee as required. To stress, the Committee found that the value of the prefabricated office buildings was stated as $7.5 million in the letter to the PPA but the contract was awarded by the chairperson for $14.3 million,” the minister quoted the report as saying.
The issue of misapplication of some $76,000 USAID Fund was also investigated by the committee, the minister said, and added that the use of donor funds for an award to repackage the strategic plan of the Commission, funded by the UNDP to develop a new logo for the commission was investigated.
No Witch hunt
The minister rubbished NDC’s claims that the NPP was behind the removal of Mrs. Charlotte Osei from office, saying “it is purely an internally generated matter.”
“What is obvious is that this removal of the chairperson of the EC and her two deputies has nothing to do with the President, his government, the NPP or indeed, any political party.
“The matters that became the subjects of the petitions against the former Electoral Commissioner and her colleagues were the same set of allegations, which they themselves threw against one another in the media and in the public space, including Mrs Osei’s allegation that Mr Amadu Sulley misused GH¢6 million from the political parties and the counter allegation against her that she abused the procurement processes in several contracts.”