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The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has warned President Nana Akufo-Addo to stay off the “independent” Electoral Commission and its Chair, Charlotte Osei, saying the party will “resist” the “blackmail witch-hunting” of the head of the election management body who was appointed by Mr John Mahama when he was in office as president.
“Stay off intruding into the operations into the activities of the independent EC,” Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu said at a press conference organised by the NDC to assess the president’s first six months in office.
According to Mr Iddrisu, while the NDC and its Minority have tolerated the “encroachment” of the president on the civil service by sacking virtually all old heads and replacing them with cronies and sympathisers of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), the opposition will resist any attempt to sack the Chairperson of the EC.
The Tamale South MP said the president’s “blackmail witch hunt will fail today, fail tomorrow and will be resisted by the NDC”.
According to him, the Chairperson who the NPP administration is hounding out of office was the same person who declared Mr Akufo-Addo president.
The NDC’s warning to the president comes on the back of a petition filed by some staff of the Commission at the presidency for the removal of Mrs Osei. The petition asked for investigations into allegations of fraud and financial malfeasance against Mrs Osei as well as her removal for allegedly terminating a contract with STL and unilaterally renegotiating a contract with a vendor of the EC for $21,999,592 without the knowledge of her deputies or other commissioners.
The petition, signed by the lawyer for the staff, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, said Mrs Osei’s cancellation of a contract between the EC and Superlock Technologies Limited (STL) – a company contracted to supply and manage Biometric Voter Registration machines (BVRs) and the Biometric Voter Devices (BVDs) – coupled with her ordering of the payment of $76,000 to IT firm Dream Oval, were fraudulent.
“The Commission signed a contract with Super Tech (STL) Limited on the premise of that Voter Registration Exercise was going to be electoral area based. Upon assumption of office as Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei unilaterally abrogated the said contract without recourse to the same Commission that approved the earlier version,” the petition said.
“She single-handedly renegotiated the contract with the vendor without the involvement of the members of the Commission, not even the deputies. She then awarded the contract to the tune of $21,999,592 without going through tender contrary to the Public Procurement Act. The Chairperson then re-awarded these contracts without approval from the Commission,” it added.
Meanwhile, Mrs Osei has declared her intention to sue the Concerned Staff of the Electoral Commission. In a letter dated July 19 by Sory@Law, Mrs Osei’s lawyers said they “noted several defamatory statements” in the letter attached to the petition against their client.
Consequently, Sory@Law noted: “…We have our client’s irrevocable instructions to take immediate action against your clients who have not been disclosed on the face of your letter.
“Our client has instructed us to demand from you [counsel for the Concerned Staff, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang] and we hereby so demand the full list of these ‘Concerned Staff of the Electoral Commission’ to enable us commence legal action against them for the defamatory statements contained in their petition failing which our client will be constrained to proceed against you alone as defendant in the suit our client intends to commence against them since you are to all intents and purposes their agent.”