General News of Friday, 22 December 2017
Parliament has urged the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Sophia Akuffo, to expedite the probe into the conduct of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies.
The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, made the call while contributing to a motion for the approval of a GH¢373,445,112 budget estimate for the EC for 2018.
Mr Iddrisu, who set the tone, said it was important for the Chief Justice to speed up the probe of the EC Chairperson and her two deputies to give the EC the focus to carry out its obligations.
He mentioned the conduct of the district assembly elections and the expected referendum for the creation of new regions next year as examples of activities within the mandate of the EC.
“We expect that the probe will be handled expeditiously for the EC to have focus,” he said.
Adding his voice to the call, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the probe needed to be dealt with expeditiously “to ensure credibility in the EC”.
That, he said, was crucial to enable the EC to work in unity, for its activities including the expected creation of some regions next year.
“The matter has to be dealt with in order to ensure credibility in the EC, so that they do not work in pieces but in one piece,” he said.
On July 13, 2017, Mr Opoku-Agyemang, representing some members of staff of the EC, sent a petition to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo asking for the initiation of the process for the removal of Mrs Osei under Article 146.
The 27-point petition, which was also served on the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), alleged acts of fraud, corruption, cronyism, among other forms of malfeasance, against the EC Chairperson.
Mrs Osei responded to each of the allegations in a statement released by her legal team and went on to level damning allegations against her two deputies in charge of operations and corporate affairs.
She followed it up with a lawsuit against Mr Opoku-Agyemang for defamation at the Accra High Court.
On July 25, 2017, an individual identified as Emmanuel Korsi Senyo also sent two petitions to the Presidency, seeking for the removal of Mr Amadu Sulley and Mrs Georgina Opoku-Amankwa.
President Akufo-Addo, on July 26 and 28, 2017, referred the petitions against Mrs Osei and her two deputies to the Chief Justice, per Article 146 (3) of the 1992 Constitution.
The process to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegations levelled against Mrs Osei and her two deputies started two weeks ago when the committee set up to investigate the allegations met the three EC officials for the first time.
The five-member committee, which sat in camera, began its work after Ms Justice Akuffo had established a prima facie case against Mrs Osei, Mr Sulley and Mrs Opoku-Amankwa.
It means the Chief Justice, on the face value of the allegations, has found the need for the issues to be probed further and for the EC officials to respond accordingly.
According to sources, in Mrs Osei’s case, the Chief Justice established a prima facie case against her in six out of the 27 allegations levelled against her by some unidentified members of staff of the EC.
The probe to ascertain the veracity of the allegations levelled against the principal officers of the EC is in line with Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution.
Article 146, which stipulates the procedure for the removal of a superior court justice, outlines the same procedure for the removal of an EC chairperson and his/her deputies.
In line with the provisions of Article 146 Clause (6), the committee consists of three justices of the Superior courts appointed by the Judicial Council and two other persons who were appointed by the Chief Justice, in consultation with the Council of State.
The other two members, the Constitution stipulates, must not be members of Parliament, lawyers or members of the Council of State.