EC alleged corruption probe...Lawyers to file responses by June 8

BY: Mabel Aku Baneseh

The five-member committee investigating alleged corruption scandals at the Electoral Commission (EC) has given lawyers for the parties up to June 8 to file their respective responses (if any) to the addresses filed or the committee will proceed to decide on the matter.

Already, the committee has completed gathering evidence on the case, while the lawyers for the parties involved in the matter have filed their addresses to pave the way for the committee to give its judgement.

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Sources close to the matter indicated to the Daily Graphic that parties in the case had filed their addresses.

Background

The hearing of the alleged abuse of power and corruption scandals that have rocked the EC began on December 11, 2017.


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The committee is chaired by a Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice A. A. Bennin.

The Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei, and two of her deputies, Mrs Georgina Opoku-Amankwah, who is in charge of Corporate Services, and Mr Amadu Sulley, in charge of Operations, have all testified before the committee.

Read also: Worrying times at EC - Governance experts want action now

The appearance of the three before the committee follows the completion of preliminary investigations into their alleged abuse of power and corruption and the subsequent prima facie cases that have been made against them.

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The Chief Justice, in August 2017, directed the three to file their official responses to the allegations levelled against them in the various petitions.

First petition

The three EC bosses have been at loggerheads for some time now, a situation which many believe is hampering operations at the EC.

The hearing by the committee was spurred by a petition sent to the Presidency by Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, who was acting on behalf of some unnamed staff of the commission who had sought to trigger impeachment proceedings against Mrs Osei.

In the petition, Mrs Osei was accused, among other things, of spending GH¢3.9 million to partition her office, receipt of a bulletproof Toyota Land Cruiser from the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government and spending about US$14 million on district offices when the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) had authorised her to use only US$7.5 million.

Read also: Chief Justice should be fair; Political parties demand over EC investigations

Second petition

Later, another petition was filed against Mrs Osei by Mr Douglas Seidu, a lawyer, on grounds of breach of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 633), as amended, gross financial mismanagement, as well as conflict of interest.

Mr Seidu alleged that Mrs Osei put herself in a conflict of interest situation when she awarded a contract to Aerovote Security Printing (Ghana) Limited to print the pink sheets used for the 2016 general election.

He further argued that Mrs Osei had strong business links with the Director of Aerovote and that the EC Chairperson had long arranged the deal even before the procurement process opened.

He further claimed that Mrs Osei ‘unilaterally’ awarded contracts worth GH¢249,018,895.03 and US$71,406,388.80 in breach of procurement processes and also awarded various contracts, including the printing of letterheads and a logo for the commission, which amounted to gross financial mismanagement.

Charlotte hits back

But the EC boss, through her lawyer, Mr Thaddeus Sory, hit back, insisting that she had not been corrupt or abused her office.

Mrs Osei then accused her two deputies of deliberately scheming to frustrate her stay in office.

She also accused Mrs Opoku-Amankwah of signing contracts worth US$40 million without her knowledge.

Mr Sulley was not spared, as she accused him of illegally transferring votes in the run up to the 2016 general election.

She also accused Mr Sulley of pocketing huge amounts of money from some political parties.

Counter-petition

Following her allegations, another group whose identity is not known sent a counter-petition to the President to investigate the two EC deputy commissioners for allegedly abusing their offices and corruption.

Denials

Both Mr Sulley and Mrs Opoku-Amankwah denied any wrongdoing.

They, in turn, accused Mrs Osei of being an impediment to operations at the EC.