General News of Thursday, 20 July 2017
Flagstaff House, the seat of government, yesterday confirmed receiving a petition from some workers of the Electoral Commission (EC) demanding for the impeachment of the Electoral Commissioner (EC) for gross misbehaviour.
The confirmation was made by Communications Director at the Presidency, Mr. Eugene Arhin. The 27-point petition contains, among others, allegations of misbehavior and mismanagement made against the Electoral Commission Chairperson, Mrs. Charlotte Osei.
The petition, signed by a private legal practitioner, Maxwell Opoku Agyemang, who is counsel for the petitioners, states that the chairperson of the commission in many instances breached the Procurement Law in procuring goods and services for the commission.
In what the petitioners claimed to be a one-woman show, Madam Charlotte Osei was alleged to have unilaterally and without recourse to procurement procedures engaged the services of lawyers.
She was also alleged to have abrogated an existing contract with Super Tech Ltd., (STL) unilaterally renegotiating and re-awarding the contract at a sum of $21,999,592 without recourse to the tender processes
“The Chairperson, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, unilaterally awarded a contract of about $25,000 to a South African company, Quazar Limited, to change and re-develop the Commission’s Logo under the guise of rebranding without going through tender contrary to the Public Procurement Act,” point 26 of the petition reads.
Apart from the breaches of the Procurement Law, the petitioners claimed the EC chair compromised her position and the independence of the commission by attending cabinet meetings during the tenure of the John Dramani Mahama administration and even caused the arrangement of a 2015 Land Cruiser with registration number WR 2291-15 from the office of the President for use as her official vehicle.
The petitioners also levelled allegations of managerial, administrative incompetence and ineptitude against the EC chair.
“So bad is her human relations, that the EC Chair is not on talking terms with the two other deputies and has not even visited any of the district EC offices ever since she was appointed,” the petitioners claimed.
“The chairperson has submitted an estimate of over 1 million for the renovation of the official bungalow for the Chairperson without recourse to the Commission or the appropriate staff in the commission,” the petitioners further claimed.
Legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Anyenini, who led a similar petition which led to the impeachment of the former Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mrs. Vivian Lauretta Lamptey, said the first port of call for such a petition was the presidency and not the media.
Explaining the procedures involved in the impeachment of commissioners, the lawyer said the EC chairman was deemed to have the same status and must be subjected to same impeachment procedures as a Court of Appeal judge.
Chronicling the procedures involved, he said, the presidency must first have a copy of the petition after which it will then be handed over to the Chief Justice who shall conduct a preliminary investigation into the allegations.
“If there is a prima facie case against the Chairperson, a full-scale investigation will be launched into the stated misconduct,” he added.
According to Lardy Anyenini, the report presented to the president after the investigations must be binding on him.
“If the committee recommends removal, as happened in the case of Loretta Lamptey, the president will have no choice but to sanction it,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Osei has challenged the lawyer representing the so-called concerned staff members of the EC who are demanding for her removal from office by the President.
In a statement issued yesterday, lawyers for Mrs. Osei dared the law firm of Maxwell Opoku Agyeman to provide the full details of the petitioners or face her in court.
Mrs. Osei said: “Having observed from your letter by virtue of which the petition to the President conveyed; that your client is an amorphous group of people described as “concerned staff of the electoral commission”, our client has instructed us to demand from you, and we hereby so demand the full list of these “concerned staff of the electoral commission” to enable us commence legal action against them for the defamatory statement contained in their petition failure which our client will be constrained to proceed against you alone as defendant in the suit our client intends to commence against them since you are, to all intents and purposes, their agent.
“Our client’s decision to seek remedy in court for the protection of her reputation is without prejudice to article 106 proceeding triggered by you,” the EC lawyers stated.