Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday July 02, 2018
President Akufo-Addo has said the decision to remove the chairperson of Electoral Commission (EC) Charlotte Osei and her two deputies from office was not borne out of hatred.
He said he only acted on the recommendations of the committee set up by the Chief Justice to investigate complaints against the sacked EC boss and her two deputies- Amadu Sulley in-charge of Operations and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa in-charge of Corporate Services.
He explained that he acted in line with constitutional dictates.
“I had no choice but to remove the EC Chairperson and her two deputies. The processes that led to their removal from office was not borne out of hatred, or a deliberate orchestration to remove some persons from their jobs,” President Akufo-Addo said on Saturday at a Townhall meeting with Ghanaians resident in Nouakchott, Mauritania ahead of the 31st Africa Union (AU) Summit.
The President said that he was duty bound to uphold the tenets of the 1992 Republican Constitution and once the committee recommended their removal he had no option.
Explaining the processes to the Ghanaian community, President Akufo-Addo said whenever a petition for the removal of a high-ranking public official, like the Electoral Commissioner, is forwarded to the presidency, all the President has to do, as is stipulated in the Constitution, is to refer the petition to the Chief Justice, for the head of the judiciary to determine whether there is a prima facie case or not.
Once a prima facie case has been established, the Chief Justice, in accordance with Article 146(4) of the Constitution, must establish a committee to investigate the complaints.
He said “the committee, in turn will make its recommendations to the Chief Justice, who shall, then, forward it to the President.”
According to President Akufo-Addo, the committee was composed of a Supreme Court judge, two Court of Appeal judges, and two persons, who are neither lawyers nor Members of Parliament and appointed by the Chief Justice on the advice of the Council of State.
“They (Committee) have been working over the last six months, and recommended that the chairperson of the EC, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwah, be removed from office on the grounds of stated misbehaviour and incompetence,” the President said.
He added that “Article 146(9) of the Constitution demands that I act on the recommendations of the committee. I have no power to disagree with the recommendations of the Committee; the Constitution does not give me that power. That is why I have removed the chairperson of the EC and the two deputies.”
“I, as President, am bound to respect the laws of our land. If I go against the laws of the country, I will be dealt with. Likewise, if you also go against the laws of the country, you must be dealt with. It is sad (the removal of the three EC Chairs), but this is how it must be,” he stated emphatically.
The President said that the petitioners were staff of the EC and not faceless persons as being speculated by some people.
The President gave assurance that the next EC boss is not going to be selected based on political affiliation, saying “we are not looking for persons who are coming to do a job for the NDC or for the NPP.”
“We are looking for persons who are coming to do a job for Ghana. That is what we are looking for, for the Electoral Commission,” he added.
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo is expected home today from Nouakchott, Mauritania where he attended the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.
He led a delegation of top government officials to Mauritania on Saturday, 30th June.
The meeting of the Heads of State took place from 1-2 July, 2018, under the theme, “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable path to Africa’s Transformation.”
He was accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, and officials of the Presidency and Foreign Ministry.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, in accordance with Article 60(8) of the Constitution, acted in his stead.
Stating the government’s official position on the matter last Friday, Information Minister Dr. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid said the President’s hands are clean as far as the impeachment processes and the subsequent removal from office of the EC chairperson and her two deputies are concerned.
“We need to conclude by reiterating what is obvious that the 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,” he said, adding “it is purely an internally generated matter.”
Last Thursday evening, President Akufo-Addo, acting on the recommendations of a five-member Committee set up by the Chief Justice, relieved Mrs. Charlotte Osei and her two deputies Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa of their posts, sparking heated political debate mostly on radio.
Ms Opoku-Amankwa, until her sacking, was on interdiction on the instructions of the EC boss.
The committee, which worked in camera and presided over by Justice A.A. Benin of the Supreme Court, comprised Justices Samuel K. Marful-Sau and Justice Agnes Dodzie of the Appeal Court, Welbeck Abrah Appiah, former Chief Executive of the Ghana Premier League Board (PLB) and Rose Karikari-Annan, former Executive Secretary of the Ghana Employers Association.
The petition had been brought against Mrs Charlotte Osei by 17 workers of the EC in July last year, and afterwards a counter petition was filed against her two deputies by a non-staff of the commission named Emmanuel Korsi Senyo, aka Emmanuel Korsi Senyo Kumedzina, who is an activist of the opposition NDC and graduate of KNUST.
DAILY GUIDE understands that Mr. Senyo relates James Kofi Afedo, the Communication Consultant of the EC, who is a known member of Movement for Mahama,’ a partisan group aligned to the NDC.
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 Charlotte Osei in order to rig the 2020 general election.
They threatened to make the country ungovernable by organizing numerous demonstrations.
Giving almost a blow by blow account last Friday of how things unfolded, the Information Minister said that “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.”
He said “it included Mrs. Charlotte 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.”
“What we have seen appears to be high simmering tensions within the Electoral Commission which resulted in an implosion after the 2016 elections.”
“These are the facts of the matter and these are the very facts that the Constitution of the Republic was applied against.”
The Minister said the Chief Justice established a prima facie case after the President had forwarded the petition to her office, leading to the setting up of the five-member committee, and once the committee completed its report, President Akufo-Addo had no option than to implement the recommendations made in the committee’s report as recommended in Article 146 (9) of the 1992 Constitution.
“Remember that the President took an oath to abide by the dictates of the Constitution of Ghana, failing which he pledged to subject himself to penalties arising therefrom. He has done nothing more or less than to uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana,” the minister said.
He said “it would be tragic for the country, in the face of these facts and circumstances, for anyone to attempt to turn this matter into a party-political affair. Those who do so, do not seek the welfare of the country.”
“It is our hope that Ghana, after these trying events, will end up with an electoral body that will uphold the dignity and integrity that is demanded of the office and its servants.”