The committee set up by the Chief Justice to investigate the chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies for abuse of office, conflict of interest and alleged corruption, resumes sitting today with the parties likely to argue their cases.
The committee last week postponed sitting to today after preliminary issues were raised in the case involving Mrs Charlotte Osei; Amadu Sulley, deputy chairman in-charge of Operations and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, for Corporate Services.
However, even before the committee goes into full trial, DAILY GUIDE has learnt about an emergence of a tape recording intended for possible evidence.
The audio tape, which is said to have been secretly recorded by a journalist with the Multimedia Group and attached to his witness statement in support of the EC boss, contains damning revelations about the rot at the commission.
The tape recording contains a voice believed to be a member of the commission having a conversation with the said journalist.
However, unknown to the said EC commission member, the friendly conversation was recorded and allegedly passed on to the chairperson, who is said to be making a case out of it.
DAILY GUIDE cannot confirm if the tape, which is in circulation, has been authenticated by the other voice on it and if it is admissible, especially since the conversation was reportedly recorded without the consent of the said EC commissioner – which raises ethical issues.
Interestingly, the tape, which has been submitted to the EC boss, indicts Mrs. Charlotte Osei.
It highlights attempts to rig the election for NDC’s John Mahama, with Mrs Osei playing funny games at the time it was obvious that NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo had won the election overwhelmingly.
Even when it was clear that John Mahama had lost the election, the chairperson was said to have stated that she was going to count the 29,000 pink sheets one-by-one because she had noticed some irregularities.
All along, she was said to be in constant communication with Mr John Mahama, creating a lot of tension in the country.
According to sources, it was based on her pronouncements that allegedly informed Koku Anyidoho to make his ‘NDC in comfortable lead’ statement – with the hope of overturning the results.
The tape also mentioned naked corruption at the EC, with huge sums of money running into several millions of dollars involving a former deputy minister changing hands, exposing serious rot at the commission.
The operations of the EC have been in limbo since the commissioners started dragging the name of the electoral body in the mud, with the secret tape exposing the level of infighting.
The EC had not met for the past one year, contrary to the enabling legislation, which mandates it to meet at least once in every two months.
In effect, Mrs Charlotte Osei has been operating without her deputies.
Chief Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo had officially confirmed that she had set up a committee to investigate allegations brought against the top EC officials.
A statement by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, had indicated that proceedings of the five-member committee were going to be held in camera.
“The public is hereby informed that Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo, in accordance with Article 46 of the 1992 Constitution, has set up a five-member committee to investigate allegations brought against the chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, Mr. Amadu Sulley and Mrs. Georgina Opoku-Amankwa,” the statement posited.
“The committee, which will sit in camera, in line with normal practice, consists of three justices of the Superior Court appointed by the Judicial Council and two other persons appointed by the Chief Justice, on the advice of the Council of State. The committee is chaired by a justice of the Supreme Court,” it indicated.
According to the statement, “The committee was established after the Chief Justice had determined that there was a prima facie case against the three officials of the Electoral Commission.”
The whole action against the EC gurus was triggered by a petition sent to President Akufo-Addo by Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, who was acting on behalf of some unnamed staff of the commission who were seeking to trigger impeachment proceedings against Charlotte Osei under Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution.
A litany of allegations have been leveled against Mrs Osei, including spending GH¢3.9 million for the partitioning of an office, receipt of a Toyota Land Cruiser from the previous government, spending about $14 million when the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) had authorized her to use only $7.5 million, as well as attending Cabinet meetings under the Mahama administration, among other things.
Following these, the EC boss, through her lawyers – Sory@Law – who are also the commission’s external solicitors, hit back at her accusers, insisting that she had not been corrupt or abused her office and rather accused her two deputies of deliberately scheming to frustrate her stay in office.
The chairperson, in her initial response, openly accused Mrs. Opoku-Amankwaa of signing contracts worth over $40 million without her knowledge and authorization, between May and September 2015.
She also turned her attention to Amadu Sulley and said apart from transferring votes illegally in the run-up to the 2016 general election, he (Sulley) also pocketed huge amounts of money from some political parties.
“The deputy chairperson in-charge of Operations collected funds above GH¢6 million in cash from some political parties for the organization of party primaries without recourse to the structures of the Commission, and without the involvement of the finance department of the Commission,” she asserted.
Mrs. Opoku-Amankwaa, for instance, said in a 25-point response to the EC chairperson’s statement that “the chairperson’s claim that there was a deliberate strategy to frustrate her work and tenure is palpably false and a figment of her own imagination.”
The deputy commissioner appeared to suggest that it was rather Mrs. Osei who was the problem at the commission and not she or Amadu Sulley.
“Her managerial deficiencies, coupled with her poor human relations and lack of appreciation for team work, are too manifest to escape public judgement,” Mrs. Opoku-Amankwaa said.
She also described as “frivolous, useless, fabrications and figment of Mrs. Charlotte Osei’s imagination, the allegations leveled against her and asked that they be treated with contempt.
Amadu Sulley did not take issues lightly when he was accused of pocketing GH¢6 million from the parties.
“I don’t understand the motive of the chair to come out now to make this unfortunate allegation against me and the Deputy Chair, Finance/Administration.”
He also accused Mrs Osei of sidelining him in the daily operations at the commission.
By Fortune Alimi