General News of Monday, 4 September 2017
The contracts awarded by the Electoral Commission (EC) to private companies for the construction of pre-fabricated (PreFAB) offices in some districts throughout the country are coming under scrutiny.
This is because the petitioners, who are seeking to trigger impeachment proceedings against the EC chairperson, Charlotte Osei, have claimed that the EC boss awarded the contracts worth over $14 million without recourse to the commission.
The petitioners accused Charlotte Osei of “engaging in cronyism by awarding contracts to the tune of $14,310,961 to her cronies for the construction of Pre-fabricated District offices without recourse to the Commission.”
However, the EC boss said she got approval from the PPA.
The identity of an individual, whose company was given some of the contract worth over $5 million, has been hidden in the offer letter allegedly signed by Madam Charlotte Osei.
The company, Cads Contracts & Services Limited, was allegedly given enough mobilization for the project to commence but it is unclear if it had been able to execute its share of the projects – eight months after receiving mobilization.
On the contract letter prepared on December 19, 2016 after the general elections, Mrs. Osei signed on behalf of the commission while the name which has clearly be canceled with an indelible ink, endorsed on behalf of the company as the Managing Director.
Strangely, there were no witnesses for both the EC and Cads Contract & Services Limited, although there were spaces designated for witnesses of both parties.
According to EC sources, such contracts were normally witnessed by the deputies under the former chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, but that is not the case under the current chairperson.
Under the agreement, Cads Contract & Services Limited was asked to construct Pre-fab offices in Lot 3 in Greater Accra (3), Central (9) and Western (7) at the cost of $2,674,114.80 as well as another in Lot 4 in Volta (6) and Eastern (17) worth $3,204,402.14.
The other company, Clicotech Limited, had a contract worth $4,278,340.61 for the construction of the same Pre-fab offices in Lot 1 in Upper West (7), Upper East (10) and Northern Region (12), as well as another $4,181,104.98 in Lot 2 in Brong-Ahafo (17) and Ashanti Region (12).
However, on the contract letter, its managing director, Emmanuel Danso, is boldly shown as signing the contract and also the EC chairperson signing on behalf of the commission.
The two signatories, however, did not have anybody endorsing the contract as witnesses.
Per documents available to DAILY GUIDE, only the two out of the five companies presented to the PPA by the commission for the restricted tendering were given the contracts.
Although, the PPA, through its then Chief Executive Officer, Samuel Sallas-Mensah, in a letter with reference PPA/CEO/08/1851/16, granted the approval for the EC to use $7,500,000 for the projects, the total cost ballooned to $14,311,002.53 million.
There appears to be no indication yet that the EC boss went back to the PPA for further approval when the contract sum scaled up.
The petitioners are insisting that “Charlotte Osei decided to construct new pre-fab district offices without either discussing or informing the commission. The service of a consultant was procured without the knowledge of the commission for the projects.”
They claimed that when the consultant recommended four companies with expertise in the pre-fab project, it did not include Cad & Contract Services Limited, alleging that Mrs Osei ‘single-handedly’ included the company in the project and awarded the contract without recourse to the commission.
Already, the Chief Justice has asked Mrs. Osei and her two deputy commissioners – Georgina Opoku-Amankwa in-charge of Corporate Service and Amadu Sulley in-charge of Operations – who are also facing impeachment proceedings, have up to tomorrow, September 5, to file their official responses to the allegations of corruption and abuse of office.
There are currently two petitions brought against the embattled EC boss and a counter petition against the two deputies.
The first petition was filed by unnamed EC staff who are being led by Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, against Mrs. Osei, who has since sued the lawyer for defamation.
A litany of allegations have been leveled against her, including spending GH¢3.9 million to partition an office, receipt of a Toyota Land Cruiser from the erstwhile Mahama-led NDC government, spending about $14 million when the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) had authorized her to use only $7.5 million, as well as attending Cabinet meetings during the tenure of President John Dramani Mahama, among other issues.
The second one was filed by a lawyer called Douglass Seidu, who is claiming that Mrs Osei was in breach of public procurement practices and provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 663), as well as gross financial mismanagement.
He accused the EC boss of awarding contracts amounting to GH¢249,081,895.03 and $71,406,388.80 respectively without following the required procurement processes and laws.
Mrs Charlotte Osei, through her lawyers – [email protected] – who are also the commission’s external solicitors, hit back at her accusers, insisting that she had not been corrupt or abused her office and rather accused her two deputies of deliberately scheming to frustrate her stay in office.
The chairperson, in her initial response, openly accused Ms. Opoku-Amankwaa of signing contracts worth over $40 million without her knowledge and authorization between May and September 2015.