General News of Friday, 21 July 2017
Allegations of fraud and financial malfeasance by some staff of the Electoral Commission against their chairperson Mrs Charlotte Osei are injurious to the image of the election management body, Dr Richard Amoako Baah, a former head of the Political Science Department at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), has said, and urged Mrs Osei to step aside as the claims are probed.
According to him, many Ghanaians already have doubts about the political neutrality of the EC and allegations currently flying about further entrench such perceptions.
His remarks follow the filing of a petition by unnamed EC staff with President Nana Akufo-Addo requesting the removal of Mrs Osei for allegedly terminating a contract with STL and unilaterally renegotiating a contract with a vendor of the EC for $21,999,592 without the knowledge of her deputies or other commissioners.
The petition, signed by the lawyer for the staff, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, said Mrs Osei’s cancellation of a contract between the EC and Superlock Technologies Limited (STL) – a company contracted to supply and manage Biometric Voter Registration machines (BVRs) and the Biometric Voter Devices (BVDs) – coupled with her ordering of the payment of $76,000 to IT firm Dream Oval, were fraudulent.
Mrs Osei has since reacted to the allegations, describing them as “frivolous”, “bogus” and as “lies”.
A few weeks ago, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) also announced it was probing three officials of the EC – one of them a Deputy commissioner – in line with an alleged misappropriation of GHS480,000, being eight months of workers’ endowment fund contributions.
However, Dr Amoako Baah said should investigations confirm any of the claims against the officials involved; the EC’s reputation will take an irreparable hit.
“It’s not good news because if allegations of corruption are emerging about the EC, then matters have worsened. A lot of Ghanaians do not trust the Electoral Commission and if these end up being true, then it becomes a confirmation. But what I will urge is that we wait a while so that EOCO and the rest conducting investigations finish with their work so we know the truth about it before we condemn anyone,” he urged on Accra News on Friday July 21 in an interview with Nana Ama Agyarko.
“But still, it is not pleasant to hear of corruption rearing its head at the EC, that some persons have embezzled some money, that the EC has become a one-woman show, and that there is cronyism within it. So let’s await conclusion of investigations.”
Fortunately, he said, Ghana has just come out of elections which means the EC is not immediately preoccupied with organising another election, “so it is the right time to do a thorough investigation”.
However, he said the storm at the EC may yet be a blessing to win back some of its critics should its chairperson be absolved of corruption.
“If it emerges that Madam Charlotte Osei is not guilty of any misconduct…some level of integrity will be restored in the Electoral Commission,” the former lecturer added, but noted that just as Mrs Osei asked three of her colleagues to proceed on leave while EOCO probes their alleged involvement in the GHS480,000 saga, she must equally proceed on leave while the allegations of fraud and financial malfeasance against her are investigated.