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General News of Tuesday, 9 January 2018


EC Boss doles out GHC11m to controversial companies

It is turning out that the Electoral Commission (EC) Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, is still allowing payments to private companies whose contracts are at the centre of the petition that is seeking her impeachment from office.

Since news about the petitions against her hit the public domain last year, she has allegedly caused the payment of about GH¢11 million to the private firms for services reportedly rendered to the EC.

The payments are said to be made, in spite of a strong objection by a finance officer of the commission, who is currently on interdiction on the orders of Mrs. Osei over the EC’s endowment fund saga.

Before his interdiction, the finance director had queried the payments on the grounds that the private companies did not have contracts with the commission.

The petitioners have insisted that most of the contracts were unilaterally awarded by the EC boss without recourse to the commission; and in some cases, they claimed that she had breached the Public Procurement Act by bloating the contract sums.

Payment vouchers emanating from the EC show for instance, that three companies namely, Messrs Cads Contract & Services Ltd, Clicotech Aluminium Ltd and CPM Africa Limited, have been paid various sums at the time their alleged contracts are under scrutiny.

Documents available to DAILY GUIDE show that Messrs Cads Contract & Services Ltd received at least two payments of GH¢2,521,583.46 and GH¢2,231,046.88 on December 12, last year, for its service on what the EC says is “bespoke design and build office space” under LOT 4.

Clicotech Aluminium Ltd on December 12, 2017 was paid GH¢2,716,121.46 and GH¢2,574,983.47 the following day for the same “bespoke design and build office space,” but this time, under LOT 3.

The company called CPM Africa Limited was also paid GH¢574,890.76 for consultancy services rendered in the “bespoke design and build offices.”

The contracts, which were awarded by the commission in connection with the construction of pre-fabricated (PreFAB) offices in some districts throughout the country, are coming under scrutiny.

This is because the petitioners, who are seeking to trigger impeachment proceedings against Mrs Charlotte Osei, have claimed that she awarded the contracts worth over $14 million without recourse to the commission.

The petitioners accused her of “engaging in cronyism by awarding contracts to the tune of $14,310,961 to her cronies for the construction of pre-fabricated district offices without recourse to the commission.”

However, the EC boss said she got approval from the PPA.

Hidden Identity

The identity of an individual, whose company was given some of the contracts worth over $5 million, has been hidden in the offer letter allegedly signed by Charlotte Osei.

The company, Cads Contracts & Services Limited, owned by a certain Hesse, was allegedly given enough mobilization for the project to commence but it is unclear if it had been able to execute its share of the projects – eight months after receiving mobilization.

Yet the EC boss, under bizarre circumstances, approved additional payments to the same company.

On the contract letter prepared on December 19, 2016 after the general election, Mrs. Osei signed on behalf of the commission while the name which has clearly be canceled with an indelible ink, endorsed on behalf of the company as the managing director.

No Witnesses

Strangely, there were no witnesses for both the EC and Cads Contract & Services Limited, although there were spaces designated for witnesses of both parties.

According to EC sources, such contracts were normally witnessed by the deputies under the former chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, but that is not the case under the current chairperson.

Under the agreement, Cads Contract & Services Limited was asked to construct Pre-fab offices in Lot 3 in Greater Accra (3), Central (9) and Western (7) Regions at the cost of $2,674,114.80 as well as another in Lot 4 in Volta (6) and Eastern (17) Regions worth $3,204,402.14.

The other company, Clicotech Limited, had a contract worth $4,278,340.61 for the construction of the same Pre-fab offices in Lot 1 in Upper West (7), Upper East (10) and Northern (12) Regions, as well as another $4,181,104.98 in Lot 2 in Brong-Ahafo (17) and Ashanti (12) Regions.

However, on the contract letter, its managing director, Emmanuel Danso, is boldly shown as signing the contract and also the EC chairperson signing on behalf of her outfit.

The two signatories, however, did not have any persons endorsing the contract as witnesses.

PPA Approval

Per documents available to DAILY GUIDE, only two out of the five companies presented to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) by the commission for the restricted tendering were given the contracts.

Although, the PPA, through its then chief executive officer, Samuel Sallas-Mensah, in a letter with reference PPA/CEO/08/1851/16, granted the approval for the EC to use $7,500,000 for the projects, the total cost ballooned to $14,311,002.53 million.

There appears to be no indication yet that the EC boss went back to the PPA for further approval when the contract sum scaled up.

Petitioners’ Insistence

The petitioners are insisting that “Charlotte Osei decided to construct new pre-fab district offices without either discussing or informing the commission.

The service of a consultant was procured without the knowledge of the commission for the projects.”

Maiden Appearance

On Monday, December 11, last year, the committee probing the alleged misconduct of the EC boss and her two deputies, had its maiden meeting, where both the petitioners and the respondents had a face-to-face encounter for the first time.

The EC workers, who petitioned President Akufo-Addo, were represented by two of them and led by their lawyer, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, with the rest waiting in the wings for the showdown.

Charlotte was also accompanied by Thaddeus Sory, who is the commission’s solicitor and also acting for the EC boss.