I don't hate Charlotte Osei - Akufo-Addo speaks on EC issues

BY: Graphic.com.gh
President Akufo-Addo in a handshake with the sacked EC boss
President Akufo-Addo in a handshake with the sacked EC boss

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has stated that he had no choice but to act on the recommendations of the Committee set up by the Chief Justice to investigate complaints against the former Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwaa.

Speaking publicly on the matter for the first time on Saturday, June 30, 2018, at a townhall meeting with Ghanaians resident in Nouakchott, Mauritania, ahead of the conduct of the 31st AU Summit, President Akufo-Addo explained that he is duty bound to uphold the teachings of the Constitution.

According to the President, whenever a petition for the removal of a high-ranking public official, like the Electoral Commissioner, is forwarded to the President, all the President has to do, as is stipulated in the Constitution, is to refer the petition to Chief Justice, for her to decide if there is a prima facie case or not.

Once a prima facie case is established, the Chief Justice, in accordance with Article 146(4) of the Constitution, must establish a Committee to investigate the complaints. The Committee, in turn will make its recommendations to the Chief Justice, who shall, then, forward it to the President.

The Committee, the President noted, was composed of a Supreme Court Judge, two High Court judges, and two persons, who are neither lawyers nor Members of Parliament, and who were appointed by the Chief Justice on the advice of the Council of State.

“They (Committee) have been working over the last 6 months, and recommended that the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwah, be removed from office on the grounds of stated misbehaviour and incompetence,” the President said.

He continued, “Article 146(9) of the Constitution demands that I act on the recommendations of the committee. I have no power to disagree with the recommendations of the Committee, the Constitution does not give me that power. That is why I have removed the Chairperson of the EC and the two deputies.”

Reiterating his commitment to build a country governed by the rule of law, the President indicated that the laws governing our country must not be a respecter of persons.

“I, as President, am bound to respect the laws of our land. If I go against the laws of the country, I will be dealt with. Likewise, if you also go against the laws of the country, you must be dealt with. It is sad (the removal of the three EC Chairs), but this is how it must be,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo stressed that the process that led to the removal of Charlotte Osei and her two deputies “was not borne out of hate, or a deliberate orchestration to remove some persons from their jobs.”

The petitioners, he added, are workers of the Electoral Commission and not faceless persons, as some would want Ghanaians to believe. The President also recounted the publicly documented spat between the 3 former EC chairpersons.

Mrs. Osei and her two Deputies, Mr. Amadu Sulley and Mrs. Georgina Opoku Amankwaa were fired over incompetence and misbehavior after a committee constituted by the Chief Justice found them culpable of allegations of procurement breaches among others.

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has served notice that it would embark on a nationwide demonstration against the decision arguing that it was “politically orchestrated.”

The government, however, decried attempts to politicise the decision to dismiss Mrs Osei and her deputies, explaining that it was “purely an internally generated matter.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Osei in a statement said posterity will judge her.

“I prefer to leave the standard and quality of those elections for Ghanaians, history and posterity to judge. I still consider it a great honour and privilege to have been given the opportunity to serve my nation at very high levels during my period in public service.

“I still hold the view and belief that our country deserves an Electoral Commission that is truly independent, unbiased, free, fair and firm, and can fight-off all attempts to politically capture, manipulate, influence and control it. This was always my cardinal objective and my approach to my work.  In due time there will be ample opportunity to fully address these matters once and for all,” she said in a statement Friday.

In the search for replacements, the President stated that “we are not looking for persons who are coming to do a job for the NDC or for the NPP. We are looking for persons who are coming to do a job for Ghana. That is what we are looking for, for the Electoral Commission”.