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24 July 2017

CDD wants bipartisan probe into “worrying” EC allegations

The Deputy Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) is calling for a bipartisan parliament probe into what has become a contest of allegations between the Electoral Commission chair and her deputies.

Franklin Oduro believes that may be a quick fix to the current impasse at the Commission.

It has been days of media war between the top echelons of Ghana’s election management body which was triggered by a 27-point petition by faceless employees at the Commission seeking the removal of the Chair over stated misconduct.

The allegations of misconduct range from poor human relations, breach of procurement laws and possible cases of fraud.

In what the petitioners claim to be a one-woman show, Charlotte Osei was alleged to have unilaterally and without recourse to procurement procedures, engaged the services of lawyers, Sory@Law who represented the Commission in the pre-election legal banter with aggrieved parties and disqualified flagbearers.

She was also alleged to have abrogated an existing contract with Super Tech  Ltd. (STL), unilaterally renegotiating and re-awarding the contract at a new sum of $21,999,592 without serious regard to the tender processes.

Franklin wants a bipartisan probe

“The Chairperson, Mrs Charlotte Osei unilaterally awarded a contract of about $25,000 to a South African company Quazar Limited to change and re-develop the Commission’s Logo under the guise of rebranding without going through tender contrary to the Public Procurement Act,” point 26 of the petition read.

“The chairperson has submitted an estimate of over 1 million for the renovation of the official bungalow for the Chairperson without recourse to the Commission or the appropriate staff in the commission,” the petitioners claimed.

The petition was filed by lawyer Maxwell Opoku Agyemang on behalf of unnamed workers at the Commission.

Hours after the content of the petition was made public, the Chairperson fired back in equal measure, first through her lawyer, Thadeus Sory, who threatened to sue the petitioners for impugning the integrity of the Chairperson.

Shortly thereafter, Mrs Charlotte Osei herself issued a statement denying point-by-point, the allegations of misconduct made against her and then went further to fire her own salvo against her two deputies – Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwaa.

“The Deputy Chair CS went on an unauthorised leave from May 19 – June 19 2017 without notice to the Chairperson and without prior approval. A sick leave note was subsequently submitted to the Director of HR. While on leave in June 2017, the deputy Chairperson without authorization and notice to the Chairperson, approved 2015 financial statements of the Commission, increased the amount for fuel coupons beyond budgeted levels and without prior knowledge of the Chairperson or the Commission. Clearly, there is ample evidence of poor knowledge of corporate governance, rules of public service financial management and general incompetence.

Mrs Georgina Opoku Amankwaa

“Under the supervision of the Deputy Chair CS, staff in the finance department have flouted many financial regulations, amended bank mandates, and made many unauthorized payments beyond their approval levels and without the knowledge of the Chairperson. Again, supporting documents would be submitted to the appropriate agencies for further investigation,” she said against Mrs Amankwaa, who is Deputy Commissioner in charge of Finance and Administration.

As for the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations, Charlotte Osei alleged:

“The Deputy Chair Ops has persistently effected illegal vote transfers from his office on the Voter management System in clear breach of the law and operational policies of the Commission. Such actions have major implications for the integrity of the work of the Commission and constitute abuse of office.

“The Deputy Chair Operations collected above funds GHS 6m (Six million Ghana cedis) in cash from political parties for the organization of party primaries without recourse to the structures of the Commission, without the involvement of the finance department of the Commission. Political party primaries were treated as a private commercial project by the Deputy Chair Ops, with funds paid directly into the personal accounts of key staff for functions to be performed for party primaries.”

The two deputies have each denied the allegations made against them.

Amadu Sulley

The contest of allegations between the three heads has gotten many wondering how the Commission was able to pull off a relatively smooth and peaceful 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Discussing the issue on Joy Midday News, the Deputy Executive Director at CDD, Franklin Oduro said the allegations have the potential of damaging the image and reputation of EC.

Even though some rumours of impropriety have been made in the past, Mr Oduro said he is “shocked in terms of the details of the allegations and counter allegations that are coming from the Electoral Commission.”

He said the fact that the allegations are coming from the top hierarchy itself is “worrying.”

Dr Franklin Oduro

“…There is some trouble within the Electoral Commission. Troubles that reflect the management of the institution of the EC; troubles that reflect potentially some problems with the way election administrations take place.”

He said if these allegations are not investigated they will remain a damning blot on the integrity of the Electoral Commission and undermine the way they operate.

Even though he supports investigations by the EOCO, he would prefer to have Parliament to look into the matter.

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