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Probe of 3 EC Chiefs Begins

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The process to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegations levelled against the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, Mr Amadu Sulley and Mrs Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, took form on Monday 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 the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Sophia 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.

According to Article 146 Clause 10 (b) of the 1992 Constitution, when the Chief Justice refers the petition to a committee, the President “may” suspend the officials, “acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Council’’.

Clause 11 of Article 146, however, gives the President the power to revoke the suspension “at any time”.

Grand entry

Per the invitation sent to Mrs Osei and her deputies, they were to appear before the committee with their lawyers at 1 p.m. yesterday

Mrs Osei made her entry at the Administration Block of the Judicial Service at 12:52 p.m., accompanied by her lawyer, Mr Thaddeus Sory.

The duo were followed shortly by Mr Sulley, who caught up with them and walked with them into the building.

Mrs Amankwa was also spotted around the premises in the company of her lawyer around 12:58 p.m., while Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyeman, the lawyer for the petitioners calling for Mrs Osei’s impeachment, also entered the premises around 1 p.m.

Sources told the Daily Graphic that the committee had informed the EC officials that a prima facie case had been established against them and, therefore, they must respond to those allegations.

The case was reportedly adjourned, while the next hearing is yet to be fixed by the committee.

EC boss’s concerns

In a related development, Mrs Osei has reportedly written to the Presidency and the Judicial Service to furnish her with copies of the allegations levelled against her in order for her to respond accordingly.

According to her, six months after the petition calling for her impeachment was sent to the Presidency and forwarded to the Chief Justice, she was yet to officially receive a copy of that petition.

Background

On July 13, 2017, Mr Opoku-Agyeman, representing some members of staff of the EC, sent a petition to President 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, however, 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 Sulley and Mrs  Amankwa.

President Akufo-Addo, on July 26 and 28, 2017, referred the petitions against Mrs Osei and her two deputies, respectively, to the Chief Justice, per Article 146 (3) of the 1992 Constitution.

Source: Graphic

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