Godwill Arthur-Mensah/Yaw Ansah, GNA
Accra, June 29, GNA - Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, the Minister of Information, has announced that the President would soon appoint a new Electoral Commission (EC) Chairperson in accordance with the laws of the country.
“The processes will be triggered almost immediately, and I can assure that, it will be done in such a way that if there are constitutionally-mandated duties, the Commission ought to perform, these would not fall in jeopardy, and will be done under the remit of the law,” he said.
This follows the dismissal of Mrs Charlotte Osei by the President for misbehaviour and incompetence, pursuant to Article 146(1) of the Constitution.
Addressing a News conference in Accra on Friday, regarding the Chief Justice Committee’s recommendations into petitions against Mrs Charlotte Osei, the former EC Chairperson, and her two deputies, Mr Amadu Sulley and Mrs Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, the Information Minister said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would appoint a new EC boss in consultation with the Council of State as required by the law.
The Minister made reference to the Commission of Enquiry into the creation of new regions that presented its report to the President recently, and noted that the EC was supposed to organise referenda in those regions, therefore, the President was aware of the task ahead.
“Therefore, the President would accordingly appointment a new Electoral Commissioner to deal with the referenda and other related issues so that the political calendar of the country would not be affected,” he stated.
Answering a question as to whether the President’s decision to remove the EC boss would set a precedent for more people to file petitions against people in high authority, Dr Abdul-Hamid said if there were five billion petitions against public officials and all those petitions had merit, the Chief Justice would deal with them in accordance with the law, noting that, nobody in the country is above the law.
Giving insights into the Committee’s Report, Dr Abdul-Hamid said six allegations were levelled against Mrs Osei, while four allegations each were levelled against Mr Sulley and Mrs Opoku-Amankwa respectively.
He said after seven months of investigations, the Committee found out that, the three respondents breached public procurement processes and undertook unlawful decisions that were not within their remit.
For instance, the Committee found out that Mrs Osei solely awarded four contracts for pre-fabricated district offices for the EC, which she awarded them at a higher cost of USD$14,337,962 in excess of USD$6,837,962.53 without recourse to the EC’s Tender Review Committee.
Therefore, the Committee realised that the value of the pre-fabricated office was pegged at USD$7.5 million in a letter to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), but the contract was awarded by Mrs Osei for USD$14.3 million.
Again, the Committee’s investigations revealed that Mrs Osei unilaterally abrogated a duly procured contract with Superlock Technologies Limited (STL), the firm in charge of EC’s registry database, and re-awarded the same contract to the same entity without recourse to the EC and procurement procedures.
Mr Sulley, who was in charge of EC’s Operations, it was discovered that he lodged monies meant to perform political parties’ primaries into personal accounts of key staff of the Commission, instead of the EC’s account.
The Committee found out that he defied all the known prudent financial administration practices and took over five million Ghana cedis in cash and kept same in the custody of individuals.
He was also found culpable of giving instructions for illegal vote transfers on the Voter Management System in clear breach of the law and operational policies of the Commission.
Regarding Mrs Opoku-Amankwa’s crime, the Committee found her culpable of signing two contracts on May 06, 2015 with the STL for USD$24,397,000 and USD$16,509,500 without adhering to the provisions in the procurement laws.
Under her watch, EC staff endowment fund contributed for eight months, between 2013 and 2014, were not paid into the Staff Provident Fund at the time she was in charge of Finance and Administration and had direct supervision over the Fund.
On July 25, 2017, President Nana Akufo-Addo received petitions against Mrs Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies from some Ghanaians and subsequently forwarded them to the Chief Justice for action.
The Chief Justice, upon studying the petitions, established a prima facie case against them and instituted a Committee to investigate them.