General News of Friday, 21 July 2017
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) must stop defending the Chair of the Electoral Commission (EC) as far as a petition filed with the president for her removal is concerned, founder and leader of the All People’s Congress (APC), Hassan Ayariga, has said.
The 2016 flag bearer of the APC also said the NDC must leave President Nana Akufo-Addo alone as he considers the petition. He said the biggest opposition party “should allow the law to work”, adding: “These are allegations, the president has received a petition, so let the president act as the president of the Republic of Ghana… not to say that anything that does not favour the NDC is witch-hunting.”
His comments follow accusations of the president and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) by the NDC that the petition has been instigated by government to witch-hunt the head of the election management body.
At a press conference on Thursday, the NDC said it would resist any attempt by the president to remove Mrs Osei who is being accused by the petitioners of fraud and financial malfeasance.
The petitioners claim Mrs Osei terminated a contract with STL and unilaterally renegotiated 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.
“The Commission signed a contract with Super Tech Limited (STL) on the premise of that Voter Registration Exercise was going to be electoral area based. Upon assumption of office as Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei unilaterally abrogated the said contract without recourse to the same Commission that approved the earlier version,” the petition said.
“She single-handedly renegotiated the contract with the vendor without the involvement of the members of the Commission, not even the deputies. She then awarded the contract to the tune of $21,999,592 without going through tender contrary to the Public Procurement Act. The Chairperson then re-awarded these contracts without approval from the Commission,” it added.
In a statement, however, Mrs Osei said: “The contents of the said ‘petition’ which has been widely circulated on social media and published by the mainstream media, are frivolous, baseless and are actuated by malice and ill will. These allegations are, in my view, the product of an overactive evil imagination, and do not deserve any serious attention.
“I wish to state categorically that all the defamatory allegations are outright lies and without any merit whatsoever.
“I understand from the media that the Presidency has received the alleged petition. I have my full responses ready for each and every allegation made in the so-called petition. However, in deference to His Excellency the President of the Republic, for whom I have the highest levels of respect, I would respectfully wait to be formally informed by the Presidency before I make my responses public.
“I take the opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to the staff of the Electoral Commission, political leaders from the various political parties, and members of the general public for the overwhelming support shown to my family and I so far. I am absolutely certain that once again, history and the truth will vindicate the just.
“The political motive hunting would not serve the greater purpose. The ‘motiveless malignity’ behind this Petition are self-seeking and faceless individuals with the sole motive of satisfying their purely personal vendetta against my person and protecting illegal financial interests.
“Finally, the Electoral Commission is an independent governance institution, non-partisan and with full protections for its officials under the 1992 constitution of Ghana. I would wish that the political actors would respect the constitutional framework provided for the Commission and support in upholding the supreme interest of the Commission for the wider interest of our democracy.”
Her response came a day after the Minority warned the president to “stay off intruding into the operations into the activities of the independent EC,” adding: “We’ll resist any attempt to remove the EC boss.”
Mr Ayariga, however, said: “If all these allegations are true, then it is very serious. We are told the EC Chair used GHS4million to renovate her residence without even the approval of the commission, I think it’s on the high side, I think it’s abuse of power and then they made mention of she using $4million to award a contract to a company that is associated with her, it’s also abuse of power if it’s true.
“But my concern here is that I don’t understand why the NDC as a party and groups of members of the party are defending the EC boss and asking the president not to do witch-hunting. When you say witch-hunting, witch-hunting means that the person that is witch-hunted is a member of your party. Because if you say that the government is witch-hunting the EC boss, does it mean that the EC boss is a member of the NDC? And let me put it clear, it is not members of the NPP that petitioned the president, it was not members of the APC that petitioned the president but it was members of the commission. They said that she is abusing her powers as a member, she’s not doing things right, she’s not involving them in meetings and many other issues and she’s arrogant.”
It is a known fact that there is no love lost between Mr Ayariga and the EC boss. On October 10, 2016, just about two months to the 7 December elections, Mr Ayariga described Mrs Osei as “stupid” and “foolish” for disqualifying him from the 2016 presidential race.