Jean Mensa not Akufo-Addo's sister-in-law – Kweku Baako

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
Kweku Baako Jnr
Kweku Baako Jnr

The Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr has debunked suggestions that Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, who has been nominated for consideration for appointment as chairperson of the Electoral Commission, was the sister-in-law of President Akufo-Addo.

Some members of the oppostion National Democratic Congress (NDC) and a media publication had suggested that Mrs Jean Mensa, the current Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), was a niece of Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, President Akufo-Addo’s wife.

Because of this, there is a suggestion she does not qualify to be appointed as the head of the Electoral Commission, since she cannot be a neutral arbiter.

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But reacting to the suggestion on Joy FM’s news analysis programme, Newsfile, on Saturday, Mr Kweku Baako said: “Jean Mensa, I have done some few [sic] checks, is not the sister-in-law of Akufo-Addo.”

“She is also not the niece of Rebecca Akufo-Addo. Her mother was also not the niece of Rebecca Akufo-Addo’s father, full stop, that is what it is. These are the facts,” the senior journalist said.

Mr Baako said the speculation was started by former deputy Minister, Murtala Mohammed on Facebook and a newspaper picked it up.

Read also: Akufo-Addo did no wrong sacking Charlotte Osei – Kweku Baako

Mr Baako has expressed disagreement with the manner and the processes under which the petition for Mrs Charlotte Osei's removal was handled by the committee and the subsequent recommendation for removal on grounds of stated misbehaviour and incompetence.

Even though he has said President Akufo-Addo did no wrong acting on the recommendations, Mr Baako has subsequently proceeded to court challenging the removal.

Related: Kweku Baako challenges removal of EC chair in court

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has protested Jean Mensa's nomination and hinted of a press conference to provide evidence on why they think she cannot be neutral if appointed as EC chair.

Already some leading members of the NDC, including the General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia and his deputy, Koku Anyidoho as well as Director of Elections Samuel Ofosu Ampofo have all said their interactions with Jean Mensa as head of IEA have pointed to the fact that she has sympathies for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and dislikes the opposition NDC.

In terms of competence, none of them has challenged her competence for the job except to say she was politically tainted in favour of the NPP more than the NDC.

They have also argued that President Akufo-Addo promised to do a wider consultation before the nomination but the NDC was never consulted.

Baako defends Jean Mensa’s nomination

Commenting on the development however, Mr Baako said there was no problem with Jean Mensa's nomination as well as the processes leading to the nomination.

Mr Baako said, he has looked at the constitution very well, relative to the Act on the appointment and eligibility of an EC chair, and he found none of the things the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has raised objecting to her nomination.

“I’m saying I’m looking at, on what basis do we appoint Electoral Commissioners and their deputies and their members. There is an enabling Act…otherwise some of these things were also said about Charlotte [Osei], that, she is too temperamental, …those things mean nothing relative to the core legislation and the basis on which the appointment is taking place."

"I still stand by that position, I checked the constitution and I didn’t find that, I checked the Act, and I didn’t find that, yes so what are you talking about, but there is no human being around there that we won’t have something against, if we are talking of character and personal human relations and aggregate them, we should consider that?" he questioned.

Baako argued that when Charlotte Osei was appointed, some NPP members made a similar argument.

When he was interjected by co-panellist on the show, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa on whether or not "bias was not important" in the consideration for an EC chair and questioned whether Freddie Blay [chairman of governing NPP] could be appointed as EC chair, Mr Baako said when the NDC is “cornered relative to the principles, the premises that the law allows, then they bring in an absurdity,” and declined to respond to that

He said because she [Jean Mensa] had a problem with the NDC in one or two or three instances and yet they continued to colloborate with her, "you did some many things together, the great Prof Mills had the occasion in Parliament in 2009 and [2010] State of Nation address to highlight the role of the IEA and what it had done to our democratic consolidation under her [Jean Mensa] stewardship.

Baako argued that when he does a balance sheet of the negatives and positives, many of her initiatives in charge of affairs at IEA are in the positives.

Election architecture

He said the election architecture that has been developed in Ghana was such that the individuals who are appointed no longer really have that much weight to manipulate the system.

Turning attention on a point raised by Samuel Okudzeto on bias, Baako said before the 1992 elections, the PNDC [Provisional National Defence Council] led by Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings appointed an Interim National Electoral Commission (INEC) exclusively and “when we moved into 1993 they continued to make appointments because the constitution allowed the president to do so.”

“There was one lady who was appointed who was a founding member of the 31st December Women’s Movement, I didn’t hear anybody complain about that, I don’t know if you remember the lady, Madam Theresa Cole…you clapped for her.”

Baako said what was done was an insistence on the formation of the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and collaboration with the Electoral Commission and the donor community and civil society organisations.

He added electoral reforms were triggered, the transparent ballot boxes, the photo ID cards that went in a progressive manner and new voters register, training of party agents and eventually the biometric registration and of course add the Election Petition and the consequences that it triggered with pink sheets now being made available to party agents.

He said the country has progressively improved on the election architecture to the extent that “we have minimized the possible manipulative designs of individuals, lets give ourselves credit, lets believe in that, and ensure that we consolidate the integrity of the process rather than raising individuals up” and linking them up to their family relations and insist they cannot occupy certain positions at the EC.

Read also: Akufo-Addo never approached Prof Mensah Bonsu for EC job - Jinapor

Responding to the clarification by deputy Chief of Staff, Samuel Abu Jinapor that President Akufo-Addo never considered or approached Prof Henrietta Mensah Bonsu as a replacement for Charlotte Osei, Kweku Baako said: “I believe what Abu is saying.”

“He has been very direct, very categorical on a public platform, so I’m going along with him. I’m sure if Madam Henrietta Mensah Bonsu has to also complement it, she may do so. She is somebody I have huge respect for, woman of impeccable integrity.”

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