Woman challenges processes which led to EC bosses' dismissal in court

BY: Mabel Aku Baneseh

The processes leading to the removal of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, are being challenged at the Supreme Court.

A Ghanaian, Ms Fafali Nyonator, is seeking an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the President from appointing any person to the position of Chairperson of the EC until that position has become what she terms “lawfully vacant in accordance with proper processes and procedures as by law established.”

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The plaintiff, in a writ to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, is praying the highest court of the land to declare that the Chief Justice’s determination of a prima facie case, pursuant to Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution for the removal of the Chairperson of EC, usurped the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

According to the plaintiff, the committee that was set up by the Chief Justice to investigate Mrs Osei and her two deputies, Mr Amadu Sulley and Mrs Georgina Opoku Amankwah, exceeded its powers by construing or defining the scope of application of provisions of the 1992 Constitution, including articles 44 (2) and 146.

The committee, the plaintiff said, thus acted in violation of Article 130 (a) of the constitution by usurping the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to interpret the provisions of the constitution.


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Therefore, the plaintiff wants the court to declare as null and void the said prima facie determination of the Chief Justice, the report of the said committee that recommended the removal from office of the Chairperson of the EC, as well as the President to remove from office the Chairperson of the EC on the basis of the said report.

The plaintiff, who has joined the Attorney-General as the defendant in the case, also wants the Supreme Court to grant any further order it might deem appropriate.
She filed the writ in her capacity as a citizen of Ghana.

Removal

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Mrs Osei was removed on June 28, 2018 based on recommendations of the committee set up by the Chief Justice to investigate her and her deputies over allegations of corruption and misconduct.

A statement signed and issued by the Minister of Information, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, said: "The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has, on Thursday, June 28, 2018, removed from office the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, Mr Amadu Sulley and Mrs Georgina Opoku Amankwaa, with immediate effect."

"This was after the Committee set up by the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo, pursuant to Article 146 (4) of the Constitution to investigate separate complaints brought against the three persons by Ghanaian citizens, recommended their removal from office."

The statement added: "the Committee recommended their removal on the basis of stated misbehaviour and incompetence, pursuant to Article 146 (1) of the Constitution."

"The provisions of Article 146 (9) of the Constitution require the President of the Republic to act in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee."

Background

Some concerned workers of the EC, in July 2017, petitioned the President and the Chief Justice to begin impeachment processes against Mrs Osei.

They accused her of taking unilateral decisions without recourse to the appropriate departments of the EC, including her deputies.

The group also accused the EC Chairperson of engaging in fraudulent activities, citing her decision to cancel a contract awarded to Superlock Technologies Limited (STL) to supply and manage Biometric Voter Registration machines (BVRs) and the Biometric Voter devices (BVDs), as well as her directive for the payment of $76,000 to IT firm, Dream Oval.

Following that, a counter-argument ensued between Mrs Osei and her two deputies that portrayed that all was not well between the three topmost commissioners at the EC.

A counter petition was also filed for the removal of the two other commissioners, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwah.

After about a year of investigations, the Chief Justice's committee handed over its report to the Presidency which formed the basis for the decision by President Akufo-Addo to dismiss Mrs Osei and the two deputies.

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