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General News of Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

EOCO to complete probe against Deputy EC Chair in 14 days

The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) has been given 14 days to provide the embattled Deputy Chair of the Electoral Commission (EC), Georgina Opoku Amankwaah, with findings of investigations into allegations of financial impropriety made against her.

The 14-day ultimatum was agreed upon after a dramatic show of force a but failed attempt by EOCO to forcibly remove Mrs Opoku Amankwaah from her office on Monday. Mrs Opoku Amankwaah had been interdicted by the EOCO for and reported to work, Monday.

She was directed by EOCO to proceed on leave in July 2017 to enable investigations into her alleged involvement in a GH?480,000 that had gone missing from the EC’s Senior Staff Endowment Fund.

She initially agreed to comply but after seven months on leave, she decided to go back to work challenging EOCO’s authority.

Reports indicate that when she arrived at her office around 11 am on Monday, three officials from EOCO arrived at the office shortly to inform her that she was wanted at the head office of EOCO.

Mrs Opoku Amankwaah said at a press conference that she was later informed that if she could not be present at the EOCO head office on Monday, she could arrange to do that on Wednesday, January 17.

However, in the middle of her address to the media, heavily armed police officers from the Rapid Response Unit stormed her office in what was believed to be an attempt to remove her from her office.

But with the support of Mrs Opoku Amankwaah’s legal counsel, Nana Boakye Adu-Poku, the armed police officers and the EOCO officials were unable to carry out their objective.

A closed-door meeting followed the brief chaos, after which the media were informed about the 14-day ultimatum agreement. Within the 14 days, Mrs Opoku Amankwaah had agreed to stay away from her office, according to Mr Adu-Poku.

Background

In September last year, EOCO confirmed that the money which went missing from the Electoral Commission (EC)’s Endowment Fund did not end up in the accounts of the officials of the EC under investigation.

However, the Executive Director of EOCO, K. K. Amoah, insisted that it was too early to conclude that the officials are innocent, given the mandate and access they had to the funds during the period.

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

Mr Amoah stated that investigations were far advanced into the matter and that they were going to submit their findings to the Attorney General. According to him, there have been claims that the money from the Endowment Fund was used for some projects for the EC, but he said no documents have been provided to prove this claim.

The Head of Communications at the EC, Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, stated in July 2017 that the three officials proceeded on leave in order to protect the integrity of investigations by EOCO

“What I know is that EOCO is investigating matters related to staff endowment fund where we have some gap in the deposits which must be paid to the staff from the deductions of the staff. As a result of which EOCO has started investigations and all persons who are related to the issue have been called for questioning… The commission is fully cooperating with EOCO as far as this investigation is concerned,” he said

A letter, written to the Chair of the EC, Charlotte Osei, dated July 4th, 2017 from EOCO, said: “the suspects are assisting in investigations.”

Corruption probe

On December 19, 2017, the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, formally constituted a committee to investigate the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, over corruption allegations levelled against them, with a caution to the general public to desist from making demeaning comments about their work.

“The general public is hereby informed that, Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo, in accordance with Article 146 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 Amankwaah.”



In a statement signed by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, the Chief Justice said anyone who makes comments that undermine the work of the Committee, will be cited for contempt.

In a release, the Judicial Secretary said the sittings of the Committee will be closed to the public.

The release, which failed to indicate the names of the Committee members, as well as state exactly when the Committee will start its work, said it will be chaired by a Justice of the Supreme Court.