General News of Tuesday, 25 July 2017
The two top Electoral Commission (EC) officials caught up in the alleged corruption scandal continue to trade accusations.
The Chairperson of the EC, Charlotte Osei, dropped a bombshell over the weekend when she accused her deputy in-charge of Operations, Amadu Sulley, of collecting about GH¢6 million from political parties without recourse to the commission.
Mrs Osei, who has been accused of abuse of office and corruption by some unnamed EC staff, said in her response to the petition asking for her impeachment that Amadu Sulley, apart from collecting money illegally, also carried out illegal vote transfers in the run-up to the crucial 2016 general elections.
“The Deputy Chairperson, Operations, collected funds above GH¢6 million in cash from some political parties for the organization of party primaries without recourse to the structures of the Commission, and without the involvement of the finance department of the Commission,” she said.
Even though the EC chairperson did not mention the name of the political parties that paid money to Amadu Sulley, DAILY GUIDE has learnt that the NDC paid an amount of over GH¢5.5 million to the EC for its primaries in 2015 ahead of the 2016 polls allegedly with no receipt issued.
The EC boss said, “Political party primaries were treated as a private commercial project by the Deputy Chairperson, Operations, with funds paid directly into the personal accounts of key staff for functions to be performed for party primaries.”
Mrs Osei attached an internal audit report highlighting widespread malfeasance in the conduct of party primaries under the supervision of Amadu Sulley, as part of the evidence in her defence of the allegations that have been brought against her and stated that “this situation cannot be allowed to continue.”
According to the EC Chairperson, “Amadu Sulley has persistently instructed officials to carry out illegal vote transfers on the Voter Management System in clear breach of the law and operational policies of the Commission. Such actions have major implications for the integrity of the work of the Commission and constitute abuse of office.”
She said in her response to the petition, “A surreptitious attempt was made to remove the Chairperson of the Commission from the GIFMIS platform to enable payments to continue to be made on the blind side of the Chairperson.”
She admitted ‘systemic failure’ of financial management systems at the EC, saying, “In some cases, Commission funds are paid into personal accounts of staff members at the regional offices.”
Mrs Charlotte Osei said in 2015, attempts she made to stop district electoral officers from inserting ghost names on the list of officials recruited for the 2015 district level elections to enable them to appropriate the allowances for the officials, resulted in the Chairperson being reported to the BNI for investigation.
“In the report attached hereto dated September 23, 2015, staff, according to the BNI, admit to a culture of misappropriation of funds meant for electoral staff, and assert that this practice is a ‘convention’ at the Commission. A work culture that permits some staff to steal with such boldness is extremely unfortunate and cannot be allowed to continue.”
DAILY GUIDE understands that the petitioners who are still unknown are most likely to include Amadu Sulley and his colleague, Ms. Georgina Opoku-Amankwaa, Deputy Chairperson, Corporate Services of the Commission – who is currently on interdiction over alleged misappropriation of Welfare Funds for staff of the commission.
Mrs Charlotte Osei averred that her deputies were taking official decisions without her consent, saying, “While on leave in June 2017, the Deputy Chairperson, without authorization and notice to the Chairperson, approved 2015 financial statements of the Commission, an increase in the amount for fuel coupons (beyond budgeted levels) and without prior knowledge and authorization of the Chairperson or the Commission.”
She said Mrs. Opoku-Amankwaa “went on an unauthorised leave from May 19 – June 19, 2017 without notice to the Chairperson and without prior approval,” adding, “A sick leave note was subsequently submitted to the Director of HR.”
In the confusion, Amadu Sulley reportedly sent a text message to Starr FM yesterday saying that he was consulting his lawyers over the allegations.
“I want to assure you that it’s not true. I have all the documents and I am going for legal advice,” he averred.
It is unclear which political parties paid the money to the Deputy Director in-charge of Operations for its primaries as alleged by Mrs Charlotte Osei.
However, it will be recalled that in February 2016 the accountant of the then ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) who was fired by the party, revealed that it (party) had paid huge sums of money to the EC.
According to Mathias Mokono Wilson – who claimed to have worked with the party as accountant for 23 years – a total amount of GH¢5.544,630 was withdrawn through him and the General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, on behalf of the EC.
“Myself and Asiedu Nketia went to the bank and withdrew money on behalf of the EC,” the beleaguered accountant told Citi Fm in Accra.
On February 10, 2016, Mr. Wilson filed a suit at the Labour Division of the Accra High Court through his solicitors from Azinyo Chambers against the NDC for unlawful dismissal, claiming that the party gave him only a week’s notice to leave the head office at Adabraka, Accra, instead of the mandatory three months after he had been accused of releasing Presidential Nominee Forms to a party member – George Boateng – who wanted to contest then sitting President John Mahama.
Giving details of the payments to the EC, the accountant said there were different cheques he withdrew together with Mr Asiedu Nketia on different dates at Societe Generale, Accra Main, on behalf of the EC, although he admitted that “I am not a signatory to the NDC account.”
According to him, “The first cheque was GH¢630,000; the second cheque was GH¢357,000; the third cheque was GH¢2 million, then followed by GH¢2.199,340, then followed by GH¢69,315, GH¢54,975, GH¢140,000 and GH¢100,000, totalling GH¢5.544,630.”