As the leadership crisis in the Electoral Commission (EC) gets murkier, some political parties, civil society organisations and lawyers have called for full-scale investigations into the developments to restore the dented image of the commission.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), as well as policy think-tank, IMANI Ghana, believe that only a probe will bring back the credibility of the EC.
Legal luminaries, Prof. Kwaku Asare and Prof. H.K. Prempeh, share similar beliefs.
A senior member of the NPP , Mr Peter Mac-Manu, said developments at the EC demanded a full-scale, non-partisan probe.
He said statements coming from the commission stunk.
“It shows the EC has performed below the belt,” Mr Mac-Manu, who is currently the Board Chairman of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), said.
Mr Mac-Manu, who was the Campaign Manager for Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the NPP flag bearer in the 2016 election, postulated that the claim by the EC that it was independent and, therefore, could not be questioned over some of its actions had been proved erroneous.
He further stressed the need for the whole structure and operations of the EC to be re-looked at for the good of the country.
In a similar observation, the General Secretary of the PPP, Mr Murtala Mohammed, said the credibility of the EC had been soiled and in order to redeem it, the commissioners should step aside for an independent commission to go into the allegations.
He indicated that only full-scale investigations would make people regain confidence in the commission.
For his part, a Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Mr George Lawson, said the country’s democracy was under threat from the happenings at the EC, adding that it was worrying that the commissioners were at one another’s throat.
Although he described the development as very worrying, he said the question of full-scale investigations needed to be viewed with caution.
Centre for Democratic Development (CDD)
The Head of Research and Programmes and Deputy Director of CDD-Ghana, Dr Franklin Oduro, told the Daily Graphic that only thorough investigations could weather the storm at the EC.
He said there was massive public interest in what was going on at the EC.
“We should not allow the issues to die; we should investigate,” he told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday.
He said allegations of financial malfeasance, managerial inefficiencies and the opening of additional polling stations for the 2016 general election without the knowledge of the EC Chairperson were very serious and should not be swept under the carpet.
Dr Oduro further stated that the matters also raised issues of corporate governance, adding that the aggregation of issues coming on the back of successful elections was very disturbing.
Generally, some lawyers and individuals expressed divergent opinions on the ongoing tussle between Mrs Osei and her deputies, Mrs Georgina Opoku-Amankwah and Mr Amadu Sulley.
Some were of the view that a petition from faceless people calling for her impeachment for fraud, incompetence and acting unilaterally had no legs to stand on because it did not meet the requirements under Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution.
Yet others were of the view that Mrs Osei’s allegations that her deputy commissioners had hoarded millions of cash and signed multi-million-dollar contracts were enough grounds for full-scale investigations into the impasse.
Mr Ace Kojo Anan Ankomah, Prof. Kwaku Prempeh, Dr Abdul Aziz Baasit Bamba, Prof. Kwaku Asare, Mr Joe Debrah, all lawyers, and the President of IMANI Ghana, Mr Franklin Cudjoe, expressed their thoughts in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic yesterday.
Dr Bamba had an entirely different position. According to him, the petition should not have been made public because publishing it was unconstitutional.
He said the recent case of Paul Uuter Dery v Tiger Eye PI & three others made it clear that it was wrong for petitions of such nature to be made public before they were disposed of.
The President of IMANI Ghana, Mr Cudjoe, expressed worry that “some aspects of our 2016 elections might have been compromised, especially when the Chairperson of the EC has stated openly that her deputies engaged in illegal transfer of votes”.
“The illegal transfer of votes could have been necessitated by the discordant re-demarcation of electoral maps, which emanates from the creation of new districts,” he said, adding that the procurement practices of major public institutions had many times been against the established rules.
“May our elections on the continent be based on real needs of our people and not on the whims of our bureaucrats in politics and the civil service,” he added.
Prof. Prempeh told the Daily Graphic that the processes initiated by the various parties involved in the EC saga should be allowed to proceed.
“The ‘trial by media’ should give way to the proper constitutional process,” he added.
For his part, Prof. Asare noted that Mrs Osei’s response to the anonymous petition calling for her removal made a clear and compelling case that the commission, as currently constituted, had become “very dysfunctional and may be incapable of continuing with its core mission”.
“The petition and the response make it clear that the commissioners may have committed serious financial and electoral crimes,” he said.
The law professor said the criminal matters raised should not be swept under the carpet.
Mr Ankomah told the Daily Graphic that the petition in its present form, as presented to the President, could probably stand if it was meant as a memorandum to be submitted to a special investigator or an investigative body.
He said he considered the petition as “woefully below the legally acceptable standard of fairness”.
“So I would hold that a legally improper petition is no petition at all,” he said, adding that “in short, a petition that does not meet these standards stands the risk of dying from self-asphyxiation at the first test.”
Mr Debrah, who was a classmate of Mrs Osei and Mr Opoku-Agyemang at the Ghana School of Law, had a personal slant to the issues.
According to him, he and the two were like siblings at the Law School and recalled fond memories of how Mrs Osei’s parents used to fend for him and Mr Opoku-Agyemang .
“I will react”
Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairperson (Corporate Services) of the EC, Mrs Georgina Opoku-Amankwah, has stated that she would, at the appropriate time, respond to the allegations levelled against her by the EC Chairperson.
Mrs Osei had, in her response to allegations made against her by some concerned staff of the EC, accused her two deputies — Mrs Opoku-Amankwah and Mr Amadu Sulley — of various wrongdoings and described them as “grossly insubordinate and rude”.
But, in a terse statement to the Daily Graphic yesterday, Mrs Opoku-Amankwah said, “We’ve just come out of a meeting and I can’t give you any details now. At the appropriate time, I will respond to those allegations.”
The Daily Graphic had sought to find out from her what her responses were to the allegations against her, some of which were damning, but she was not ready to delve into the brouhaha.
A legal practitioner, Mr Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, counsel for unnamed concerned staff of the EC, on July 13, 2017, forwarded a petition to the President asking for the initiation of processes for the removal of Mrs Osei under Article 146 (3) of the 1992 Constitution.
But the EC Chairperson, in a response to the petition, rather levelled damning allegations against her two deputies.
She accused the Deputy Chairperson in charge of Operations, Mr Sulley, of collecting GH¢6 million in cash from some political parties for the organisation of party primaries without recourse to the structures of the EC.
The other allegation was levelled against Mrs Opoku-Amankwah, who has been accused of entering into and executing a $40-million contract.