General News of Thursday, 27 July 2017
President Akufo-Addo has finally referred the petition for the impeachment of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei, to the Chief Justice (CJ).
The Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, is expected to find out whether there is a prima facie case against the EC chair after which a committee would be set up to look into the matter.
A statement issued by the presidency and signed by Director of Communications, Eugene Arhin yesterday, indicated, “The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Wednesday, 26th July 2017, referred a petition purporting to invoke Article 146(3) of the Constitution, in respect of the office of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, to the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo.”
It has now emerged that in all, 17 persons – all staff of the EC – signed the petition calling for the removal of Charlotte Osei, who is said to have been a source of raging controversy since her appointment by former President John Dramani Mahama in the middle of 2015.
Whilst President Akufo-Addo was out of the country, his office received a petition – initially undated and unsigned – against the Chairperson of the EC.
Subsequently, counsel for the petitioners, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, by a letter dated 20th July 2017, wrote to the office of the president setting out the names of the petitioners and the date of the petition.
Pursuant to the terms of Article 146 (3), President Akufo-Addo referred the petition to the Chief Justice for resolution.
The aggrieved workers of the EC are demanding the impeachment of Charlotte Osei as Chairperson of the Commission.
According to the staff, the EC boss lacks the managerial skills needed to lead the Commission.
They claimed the EC chair “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.”
According to the petitioners, Mrs. Osei “has poor human relations not befitting of any leader in public space.”
The EC boss has denied the allegations, describing them as bogus, but has interestingly gone ahead to make counter allegations against some of her own deputy chairpersons, especially Georgina Opoku Amankwah, in-charge of Corporate Services and Amadu Sulley, in-charge of Operations.
She has also accused them of being incompetent.
This has led to stunning revelations from both the EC boss and her deputies, with the two (deputies) also having to dispute their boss’ claim and gone ahead to make more shocking revelations.
The EC chairperson’s position is tied to that of a justice of the Court of Appeal and so her removal from office follows the same procedure as in the case of an Appeals Court judge.
Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution indicates inter alia (1), “A Justice of the Superior Court or Chairman of the Regional Tribunal shall not be removed from office except for state misbehavior or incompetence or on the ground of inability to perform the functions of his office arising from infirmity of body or mind.”
(2) A Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature or a Chairman of the Regional Tribunal may only be removed in accordance with the procedure specified in this Article.
(3) If the President receives a petition for the removal of Justice of a Superior Court other than the Chief Justice or for the removal of the Chairman of a Regional Tribunal, he shall refer the petition to the Chief Justice, who shall determine whether there is a prima facie case.
(4) Where the Chief Justice decides that there is a prima facie case, he shall set up a committee consisting of three Justices of the Superior Courts or Chairmen of the Regional Tribunals or both, appointed by the Judicial Council and two other persons who are not members of the Council of State, nor members of Parliament, nor lawyers, and who shall be appointed by the Chief Justice on the advice of the Council of State.
(5) The committee appointed under clause (4) of this article shall investigate the complaint and shall make its recommendations to the Chief Justice who shall forward it to the President.