Order Charlotte Osei, 2 Deputies to Step Aside – AFAG
Pro-NPP Pressure Group, Alliance for Accountable Governance [AFAG], is demanding the interdiction of Electoral Commission Chair, Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, Sulley Amadu, and Georgina Opoku-Amankwah, pending the conclusion of investigations into allegations of financial malfeasance and misconduct.
The group said the continuous stay of the officers at post could jeopardize the investigations.
Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo set up a five member committee to probe the allegations, after a prima facie case was established against them based on petitions received.
The Vice Chairman of AFAG, Henry Asante at a news conference in Accra, asked President Akufo Addo to direct the three officers to proceed on leave.
“The workers of Electoral Commission, some of them took it upon themselves based on certain things that they learnt the woman has done together with the Commissioners, and petitioned the presidency. You know how difficult it is to complain about your boss to a higher authority, but they braved it, and a prima facie case has been established against them, so the question is, why are they still in office?”
“AFAG had long expected the President to act and spare the Electoral Commission from damages in credibility. We are not saying she’s done it, but in the rule of natural justice, we must all admit that anybody alleged to have gotten involved in any act of misconduct must give way for fair trial or justice to take place because you might impede with evidence if you continue to hold office.”
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 petition against her, alleged among others the funnelling 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.
Amadu Sulley ‘illegally’ took GHC 6m from parties – Charlotte Osei
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.
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.
President Akufo-Addo in accordance with the constitution forwarded both petitions to the Chief Justice to look into the matter, the outcome of which is now a Committee to investigate the three.
Charlotte Osei could remain in office during corruption probe – Lawyer
Meanwhile, a private legal practitioner, Yaw Oppong, had suggested to Citi News that, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei, could remain in her position while a probe is conducted into alleged acts of malfeasance by her and two deputies at the Commission.
The Chief Justice and the Judicial Council, may recommend to the President of the Republic, the suspension of the EC Chair from her position, to enable her undergo the hearing.
However, according to Yaw Oppong, unless it is established that her continued stay in office would compromise the investigations, Charlotte Osei could be allowed to remain in her position while she and her deputies are probed.
“In my view, unless it can be seen that the person who is the subject of such an investigation is capable of interfering with the investigation process in terms of suspected cases of concealment of documentary or other forms of information, otherwise I think those persons can still occupy their position,” he said on Eyewitness News.
Yaw Oppong added that, even if the President accepts the recommendation of the Judicial Council and suspends the EC Chair, he could, at any time, reinstate her should he feel the need to do so.
“If the President is of the view that any useful purpose will be served by the person who is the subject of this investigation stepping aside or being suspended in the meantime [he can do so]. But at the same time, Clause 11 says that the President may at any time revoke the suspension under this Article. Perhaps it may be used, but if any purpose may be served by the person being brought back to the position, the President has the power to do so,” he explained.
President not bound by recommendations
Yaw Oppong also suggested that, the President may not be compelled to implement the recommendations of the Judicial Council should they call for the suspension of Charlotte Osei.
Citing a similar case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the President was not bound by the advice of the Council of State, Yaw Oppong stated that, it was however vital that the President is seen to have sought the advice of the Judicial Council on the issue, as stated by the Constitution.
“It doesn’t appear that the President may be bound by the advice [of the Judicial Council]. What it really means is that, there should be evidence that the President at least sought the advise of the Judicial Council. And I think that any prudent President, and so far we’ve had prudent presidents, will act on the advise of the Judicial Council,” he said.
“Unless that president may want to also violate the Constitution, which, so far our President has done well not to. He’s complied essentially with the provisions that have come up for compliance.”