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Opinions of Sunday, 30 August 2015

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Has Charlotte Osei Already Failed as Electoral Commissioner?

It appears Ghana is sleepwalking into becoming a banana republic. Last week, Dr Bawumia announced at a press conference that over 76,000 Togolese are potentially registered on the Voters’ Register of both Ghana and Togo. This week a group of disaffected or disappointed NDC Youth came out to confess that they registered Togolese to vote for NDC in the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. One Robert Tetteyfio Adjase, the Chairman of the Disappointed NDC Youth claimed they were paid by the leadership of NDC to register the Togolese (see “NDC Boys spill beans over Togolese voters”, Daily Guide/Ghanaweb, August 24, 2015). This article is analysis of why the Electoral Commission, particularly the new Chairperson and other authorities have not acted on the self confession by these criminals.

According to Robert Adjase, because Togolese do not enjoy services like the health insurance, he and his colleagues assisted them to secure Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards which enabled them to register when the voters’ registration exercise was carried out which enabled them to vote on election day. So they have the health insurance; a promise NDC gave them. That is, they can go to hospital free in Ghana in return for their votes and they were also given free motorbikes. Adjase was accompanied to the Daily Guide office by the group’s Hohoe Chairman, Harker Brempong; Ketu South Chairman, Doe Gadekah, Public Relations Officer, Robert Kabutey and Victor Bogah. A group photo of the five was published with the report.

The question on the minds of rational thinking Ghanaians is, why despite the criminal acts of facilitating foreigners to register and vote as well as to obtain NHIS cards and use free health care, no one in Ghana is acting to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of such claims?

The least Ghanaians expected from the new Electoral Commissioner, Mrs Charlotte Osei is for her to lodge an official complaint with the police to investigate the claims made by the Disappointed NDC Youth. Why Mrs Osei and her Commissioners have kept silent beats my imagination. Have they not heard or read the confession? What are waiting for?

If Mrs Osei will not lodge an official complaint with the police, why has the IGP also failed to invite the self confessed criminals for investigations? Are the IGP and his senior officers also unaware that what the Disappointed NDC Youth claimed to have done is criminal, ought to and must be investigated by the police for the appropriate action taken? Are they protecting their pay masters?

What about the Presidency itself? Is President Mahama not interested in ensuring that Ghana’s democracy is free and fair, that he was not elected through the assistance of Togolese voters and why has he failed to instruct the IGP to investigate the claims to bring the culprits to book? What is he afraid?

What about the NDC leadership who stand accused of bribing Togolese with NHIS cards and motor bikes to register and vote for the NDC in the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections? Are they also not interested in clearing their damaged reputation and proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the party won the 2012 elections clean? Are they scared that investigations into the claims will expose them and some of them could end up in jail or banned from holding public offices in the future?
What about NPP’s failure to call for investigations into the claims by the group or lodge a complaint with the police to trigger investigations? I thought they were the first to make the allegation that they found potential Togolese on Ghana’s Voters’ Register. Is it not NPP that stands to benefit most if the claims are substantiated or is it because their original allegation of double registration of Togolese could be weakened if the group’s claims are found not to be true after investigations? Is it because the group has now joined NPP? Is this a group that NPP should welcome into their folds? If their claims are true, then they are the very people who might have caused the NPP to lose the presidency in 2012. Perhaps, could it be that NPP has accepted them in anticipation of making use of their illegal trade of registering Togolese to vote for NPP in 2016, should the EC prepare a new Voters’ Register?

Finally, what about the media in Ghana? What are they doing to enhance Ghana’s democracy? In fact, since Dr Bawumia made public the allegation of Togolese being on both Voters’ Register of Ghana and Togo, one would have expected some journalists to follow up the matter to at least, identify some of the individuals who Dr Bawumia alleges to appear on the both registers. This could have been done within days by visiting the addresses of those individuals and interviewing them. With the exception of a few, Ghanaian journalists appear not be daring in exposing wrong doing in Ghana.

The failures by all above are unpardonable and that say a lot about Ghana and Ghanaians. It’s all talk and no action. NDC and NPP say the same thing/s in opposition and do the same thing/s when in government. Typical is the argument over a new Voters’ Register because the existing one is not credible. The same happened prior to 2008 and 2012 elections. NDC in opposition could not trust the register and demanded a new one. NPP now in opposition is making the same demands.

The fact that citizens can publicly confess to committing very serious crimes against the state that could have caused a constitutional anomaly and yet no one has been spoken to them or be invited by the police beggars belief. It is an indication of the level of lawlessness Ghana has descended into. In fact, even the Judiciary as an institution has joined the lawlessness in what I describe a as ‘judicial vandalism’ by judges. In the past month alone, two judicial decisions should scare every Ghanaian. The first was the unconstitutional jailing of Mr Charles Antwi by and in the kangaroo court of Justice Francis Obiri. The second being the degrading sentencing of a convicted goat thief at Akyem Swedru in the Eastern region by a circuit court judge (Emmanuel Brew) to carry the goat and parade around the town with a placard reading, "I am a goat thief”. Whilst media reports indicate that Judge Emmanuel Brew has been asked to proceed on leave, Justice Francis who caused a more grievous judicial harm is still at post and not even on suspension.

Ghanaians are deceiving themselves about democracy if such serious constitutional illegalities are swept under the carpet by those in authority. NDC and NPP have reduced democracy to just winning elections and their all efforts are geared towards that singular objective. Democracy is more than winning elections. Apart from free and fair elections every now and then, democracy is more about socio-economic and political development with respect for the rule of law as its guiding principle or super structure. If these criminals are left to go free, what will prevent a repetition, if a new Voters’ Register is to be prepared for 2016? Ghana and Ghanaians should be serious as a nation and citizens, otherwise, Ghana is just a Banana Republic with zombie subjects.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK