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General News of Wednesday, 8 November 2017


Deal with petition against Charlotte Osei to save EC’s integrity – Inusah

The Ranking Member on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, Inusah Fuseini, has called on the Chief Justice to hurriedly determine whether a prima facie case has been established against the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) Charlotte Osei, in order to clear any lingering doubts about the integrity of the Commission’s leadership.

According to him, there is a risk of “paralyzing” the EC from carrying out its constitutionally mandated functions if the allegations against the EC Chair and other officials of the Commission are allowed to fester without any timely resolution.

“The petition must be disposed of quickly, that’s why in the Office of the Special prosecutor’s Bill we are setting out timelines for the determination of prima facie issues in a petition of that nature. We cannot determine the merit of the petition in perpetuity, there must be timelines,” he said.

“The fact that there are no timelines means that the recipients of the petition must determine with alacrity, whether or not, there is merit. That is the only way that you can restore some modicum of confidence in the generality of Ghanaians and also ensure that the EC can function and function well.”

Two petitions, calling for the impeachment of Charlotte Osei as the EC Chair, were submitted to the President in July and August 2017, and were subsequently forwarded to the Chief Justice to determine whether a prima facie case could be established.

The first petition was presented by some unnamed staff of the EC, whilst the second was submitted by one Douglas Seidu, and was said to contain at least 15 allegations against the Commission’s head, including the unilateral award of contracts in the run-up to the 2016 general election.

However, since the petitions were forwarded to her office, the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, is yet to make a determination on whether a prima facie case has been established against Madam Osei. Speaking on Eyewitness News on Tuesday, the Tamale Central MP, Inusah Fuseini, stated that the failure to resolve the issues at the EC was worrying and could affect the timelines which had been set out for various elections set to be held in the country.

“The office will be paralyzed in carrying out its functions, and that will be very disastrous for our democratic transition and democratic governance. We have got key timetables to meet certain basic requirements. Requirements for the election of assembly members clearly must be met,” he noted.

“We are thinking of creating districts which will be a function of the EC. The EC must in conjunction with the Local Government Act demarcate the districts in such a way that they don’t traverse constituencies so they clearly have a lot of roles to play. At that level, it’s a functional problem.”

The Coalition of Domestic Elections Observers (CODEO), expressed reservations about the silence of the agencies investigating the disappearance of money from the Electoral Commission (EC)’s Endowment Fund. According to the Coalition, it is imperative that the country’s election supervisory body is free from any issues that might raise doubts about its integrity.

His point was reiterated by Inusah Fuseini, who argued that the impasse at the EC had also dented the public’s confidence in the Commission’s ability to fairly oversee the country’s elections.

“At the level of elections at the Parliamentary and Presidential level, it’s a question of credibility and transparency. The credibility of every election is very important and the people who occupy the office must inspire confidence in the generality of Ghanaians.”

‘No right to ask officials to go on leave’

EOCO commenced investigations into the activities of three officials of the EC; Georgina Opoku Amankwah, Chief Accountant, Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi, and Finance Officer, Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, after over 480,000 cedis reportedly went missing, resulting in the officials being asked to proceed on leave.

However, the Policy adviser for the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Kofi Asamoah Siaw, has questioned this action,l stating that the officials could only have been asked to go on leave once a prima facie case was established. “Article 146 is very clear that the President can suspend a deputy Chair or Chairperson when the Chief Justice has set up its Committee and there’s constitution being made.

It appears that if there’s a misconduct on the part of a member of the Commission, and when an investigation is being undertaken post the establishment of a prima facie case, that’s when we can suspend anybody or ask anybody to go on leave. An investigation by EOCO cannot usurp the constitutional protection given to chairpersons of the Commission,” he said on Eyewitness News.