General News of Thursday, 25 January 2018
The Economic and Organized Crime Office [EOCO], has rejected media reports suggesting that it has cleared the Deputy Chairperson of the Electoral Commission in charge of Corporate Services, Georgina Opoku Amankwah of any wrongdoing following a probe into the GH¢480,000 believed to have gone missing from the EC’s Senior Staff Endowment Fund.
“We wish to emphatically and categorically state that no such clearance has been issued to any of the Officers of the Electoral Commission who are on leave,” EOCO said in a brief statement issued on Tuesday.
Madam Amankwah was however directed to proceed on leave in July 2017, to enable EOCO investigate the matter.
Although she forcibly resumed duty last week, Madam Amankwah and her lawyer after meeting with EOCO officials, agreed on a 14-day ultimatum by which time she wants the EOCO report on her to be ready. She has vowed to return to work if she does not receive any response from EOCO.
This ultimatum was agreed upon after officials of the investigative body stormed her office to prevent her from occupying it.
But even before the 14-day period elapses, the Daily Guide newspaper in its January 23, 2018 edition, reported that some documents available to it from the Attorney General’s Department suggest that the affected officers including Opoku Amankwa have been cleared of any malfeasance.
According to the newspaper, “The report, dated January 10, 2018, indicates that the focus of the EOCO investigation was on Samuel Yorke Aidoo, the then Director of Finance, as well as Ishmael Pensah, a former Chief Accountant, who no longer works with the EC.”
Daily Guide further suggested that Georgina Opoku-Amankwaah and the other directors being investigated were allegedly being hounded by EOCO on the instruction of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei.
But EOCO in its statement said the claims by the Paper are untrue.
“…the attribution that ‘EC Chairperson is said to be manipulating EOCO’ is blatant falsehood and needs to be condemned. The general public is invited to disregard the said publication,” the statement added.
The statement however fell short of addressing the newspaper’s claim of a report from the Attorney General’s Department.
Below the brief statement from EOCO:
ECONOMIC AND ORGANISED CRIME OFFICE- EOCO
The attention of the authority at the EOCO has been drawn to the banner headline of the 23rd January 2018 Edition of the Daily Guide Newspaper that “EOCO Clears EC Top Officers”.
We wish to emphatically and categorically state that no such clearance has been issued by this Office to any of the Officers of the Electoral Commission.
Secondly, the attribution that “EC Chairperson is said to be manipulating EOCO” is blatant falsehood and needs to be condemned. The general public is invited to disregard the said publication.
EOCO will issue a statement on this matter.
ACP K.K. AMOAH (RTD)
DATED – 23RD JANUARY, 2018
In September 2017, EOCO confirmed that the money which went missing from the Electoral Commission (EC)’s Endowment Fund did not end up in the accounts of the officials of the EC under investigation.
However, the Executive Director of EOCO, K. K. Amoah, insisted that it was too early to conclude that the officials are innocent, given the mandate and access they had to the funds during the period.
EOCO commenced investigations into the activities of three officials of the EC; Georgina Opoku Amankwah, Chief Accountant, Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi and Finance Officer, Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, after over 480,000 cedis went missing, resulting in the officials being asked to proceed on leave.
Speaking to Accra-based Peace FM, the Executive Director of EOCO, K. K. Amoah, stated that, investigations were far advanced into the matter, and that they were going to submit their findings to the Attorney General, which has since been done.
According to him, there have been claims that the money from the Endowment Fund was used for some projects for the EC, but he said no documents have been provided to prove this claim.
“It’s been suggested that the money was used for some work for the EC. If that’s the case, they should bring receipts and documents to prove it. We haven’t got any such documents from them. Without those documents, we’ll continue to pursue them. With time, we will pass the information on to the Attorney General to pursue the matter in court.”
K. K. Amoah also clarified that the officials under investigation were still on leave and had not been interdicted.
‘Officials assisting investigations’
The Head of Communications at the EC, Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, stated in July 2017 that, the three officials proceeded on leave in order to protect the integrity of investigations by EOCO.
A letter, written to the Chair of the EC, Charlotte Osei, dated July 4th, 2017 from EOCO, said “the suspects are assisting in investigations.”
Charlotte Osei, 2 deputies facing Committee in ‘corruption’ probe
On December 19, 2017, the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, formally constituted a committee to investigate the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, over corruption allegations leveled against them, with a caution to the general public to desist from making demeaning comments about their work.
“The general public is hereby informed that, Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo, in accordance with Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution, has set up a five-member committee to investigate allegations brought against the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, Mr. Amadu Sulley and Mrs. Georgina Opoku-Amankwa.”
In a statement signed by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, the Chief Justice said anyone who makes comments that undermine the work of the Committee, will be cited for contempt.
In a release copied to citifmonline.com, the Judicial Secretary, said the sittings of the Committee will be closed to the public.
The release, which failed to indicate the names of the Committee members, as well as state exactly when the Committee will start its work, said it will be chaired by a Justice of the Supreme Court.
Some staff of the EC petitioned President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in July 2017, to remove Mrs. Osei from office over allegations of fraud and financial malfeasance as well as abuse of office.
Some of the allegations involved the unilateral award of contracts by the EC boss in the run-up to the 2016 general election. The unnamed EC staff are being represented by Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, against Mrs. Osei.
The petition against her, alleged among others the funneling of GH¢3.9 million to partition an office, the receipt of a Toyota Land Cruiser from the Mahama government, and the use of about $14 million when the Public Procurement Authority had authorized her to use only $7.5 million.
Charlotte Osei takes on Deputies
Mrs. Osei also responded by making allegations of corruption against her deputies, claiming that she was only being hounded because she sought to introduce systems to curb misuse and mismanagement of resources.
Charlotte Osei among other claims, accused deputy Chairperson of the Commission of illegally signing contracts worth over GHC 40 million without her approval.
Fresh impeachment against EC Chair
Subsequently, another individual by name Douglas Seidu, a concerned Ghanaian, also petitioned the President in August 2017, seeking the removal of the EC Chair, on grounds of “financial misconduct, incompetence, conflict of interest, breaches of the public procurement processes, amongst others.
It is an eight-paged petition” according to the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin, who spoke to Citi News in August.
President Akufo-Addo in accordance with the constitution forwarded both petitions to the Chief Justice to look into the matter.
Suggestions are that both petitions have been consolidated to make the Committee’s work easier.