General News of Friday, 21 July 2017
The petition sent to the presidency by unnamed staff of the Electoral Commission (EC) against the Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, is bringing out interesting issues and perceived rot at the commission.
The petitioners, who are being led by their counsel, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, are claiming that the EC boss spent gargantuan GH¢3.9 million to arrange a new office complex, they insist, she unilaterally took from the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
“As part of compromising her independence and neutrality, Mrs. Charlotte Osei claimed that the EC has been allocated a new building for use as office complex without the approval of the Commission. The 7-member Commission has not at any point in time formally requested for any office allocation since the Commission sees nothing wrong with the current office,” the petition calling for her impeachment over allegations of abuse of office and corruption stated.
“With the chairperson’s insatiable demand for affluence and flamboyance, she unilaterally awarded a contract to the tune of GH¢3.9 million for demarcation and partitioning of the said office complex without recourse to the Commission,” they alleged, adding, “She claimed she sought approval from the Public Procurement Authority but strangely enough, the contract sum is higher than PPA’s approval level.”
According to the petitioners, the EC chairperson submitted an estimate of over GH¢1 million for the renovation of her official bungalow without recourse to the Commission or appropriate staff in the Commission.
Observer Mission Snub
The petition also recounted how the EC boss allegedly snubbed Africa Union (AU) Observer Mission led by former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, as well as the National Peace Council of Ghana in the heat of the crucial 2016 general elections.
“The chairperson, through her arrogant posture, brought embarrassment to the Commission by refusing to grant audience to Members of the National Peace Council and the leader of the Africa Union Delegation, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, the former president of South Africa, during the 2016 General Election,” the petitioners claimed.
The staff also claimed that the new EC logo, which stoked heated political debate after it turned out that it was even a plagiarized work, cost the commission a whopping $25,000.
According to the petitioners, Mrs. Charlotte Osei “harboured personal vendetta against a vendor by name Messrs Buck Press Limited, on the premise that he belongs to NPP. She categorically made this statement in an interview with BBC.”
They continued, “In view of this, she unilaterally without recourse to the Commission removed the company’s name from the list of vendors already approved by PPA to do business with the Commission contrary to the Public Procurement Act.”
They also accused her of undermining the long-standing contributions of her predecessor – Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, saying, “The Chairperson, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, assuming office, has consistently attempted to demonize her predecessor, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, and taking steps to de-recognise the legacy of her predecessor.”
“The Chairperson has brought the Commission’s name into disrepute for single-handedly petitioning EOCO on an alleged misappropriation of staff endowment fund for malicious reasons. This is because the issue has come before the entire Commission for redress. The decision to go to EOCO was not that of the Commission’s but characteristically a unilateral decision by the Chairperson.
“The leadership of Mrs. Charlotte Osei has brought about an irreversible disunity among Commission members to the extent that she is not on speaking terms with the deputies and other Commission members. There is total breakdown of the administrative structures of the Commission.”
Charlotte Fights Back
The EC boss is not taking the issues raised lightly and has instructed her lawyers, as well as the counsel for the Commission, Sory @ Law, to fight the case.
She is threatening to sue the staff who have petitioned the president to initiate impeachment proceedings against her and wants the lawyer for the petitioners to disclose the identities of the concerned staff or face her in court.
She said in a letter to the petitioners’ lawyer that “having perused the said letter to which was attached the allegations on the basis of which the petition invoked the provisions of Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana for our client’s impeachment; we have noted several defamatory statements in respect of which we have our client’s irrevocable instructions to take immediate action against your clients who have not been disclosed on the face of your letter.
“At all times material to our present letter to you, your letter has received widespread publication in the mass and social media by way of radio broadcasts and discussions, including comments in blatant violation of the confidentiality requirements of Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution pursuant to which you have petitioned the President of the Republic of Ghana.”
The Chairperson’s lawyers said, “Be that as it may, having observed from your letter by virtue of which the petition to the president is conveyed that your clients are 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 statements contained in their petition, failing which our client will be constrained to proceed against you alone as defendant in the suit; our client intends to commence action against them since you are to all intents and purposes, their agent.”
Mrs. Osei said “her decision to seek remedy in court for the protection of her reputation without prejudice to the Article 146 proceedings triggered by you.”
The lawyer for the petitioners, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, shot back at the EC boss, insisting that he was not prepared to reveal the identities of his clients until a properly constituted body had been set up to investigate the issues and said he was ready to face her in court.
He told Citi FM yesterday that he has enough evidence to support the allegation his clients made against the EC boss.
“I’ll be very glad to meet them in court. If anybody suggests that there has been defamation, it will make my day. I’m not the type of person who will be intimidated by the use of these words which would not even intimidate a fly. A petition has been sent and we will follow through the petition. We will make sure that that petition is proceeded with as required by law.
“The clients are available and at the appropriate phase, we will disclose them. They have offices and they will be known…I will disclose it to the office to whom I submitted the petition,” he said.