…but Penplusbytes joins calls for both EC Chair and Deputies to resign immediately
Strategic Thinkers Network (STRANEK); a governance think tank says the recent happenings at the Electoral Commission (EC) where about 27 allegations have been leveled against the Chairperson and in return, a 28 point response by her in which Mrs. Charlotte Osei denied any acts of fraud and financial malfeasance on her part must be well investigated.
In a release issued on Monday signed by its Executive Director, Nii Tettey Tetteh, STRANEK called on President Akufo-Addo to ensure that the petition against the EC Chairperson and her response are well investigated by the appropriate authorities as they seem to suggest that there is entrenched corruption at the apex of Ghana’s Electoral Commission.
“Having read the 27 allegations made against the EC Chair and her response in a 28 point rebuttal against some members and staff of the Commission, we at Strategic Thinkers Network (STRANEK) are alarmed by the indications of wanton abuse of taxpayer funds under the management of the Electoral Commission.
“From the Chairperson’s response, we see a rather bleak picture of a commission fraught with endemic corruption of which she is trying to cure. We are therefore of the opinion that both allegations should be investigated thoroughly before the reliefs of the petitioners are considered,” the statement noted.
The think tank is of the opinion that to preserve and protect the independence of the electoral commission and also preserve the sanctity of Ghana’s democracy, any incursion by the executive or parliament into resolving issues relating to the internal matters of the Electoral Commission must be done with National Security in mind.
STRANEK urged Madam Charlotte Osei to assist in cleaning up corruption in the EC hence she should not be removed as have been suggested in some quarters.
Meanwhile, Penplusbytes, a non-profit making organization focused on driving change through innovations in the areas of new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability, new media and innovations has also waded into the issue with a call on both the Electoral Commissioner and her deputies to resign their positions immediately.
“the importance of a National Elections Commission (EC) cannot be overemphasized as they embody the legitimacy and credibility of the electoral process, which is directly linked to the integrity of a nation’s democratic credentials,” a statement released on Wednesday has noted.
Ghana’s EC has successfully conducted seven elections which have contributed to the stability and economic growth the country currently enjoys within the sub-region. We have had electoral disputes in the past, but these were managed/ resolved amicably to the envy of other African countries and the world at large.
The current in-fighting amongst the EC commissioners does not bode well for Ghana’s democracy and will dent confidence in their ability to hold credible elections in the future. It started with the petition by some “faceless” Electoral Commission staff against EC Chairperson, Mrs Charlotte Osei, to the office of the President for her possible impeachment. A copy of this was given to Economic of Organized Crime Office (EOCO) for investigations into alleged crime(s) she is purported to have committed.
In the Chairperson’s response to these allegations, she has made serious allegations of corruption against her two deputies; Mr. Amadu Sulley – deputy Chairperson for Operations- for collecting 6 million GHC from political parties for organizing their primaries without following the EC’s due processes, and Mrs. Georgina Opoku-Agyeman – deputy in charge of Corporate Services- for entering into and executing a 40 million contract without the knowledge and authorization of the EC Chairperson among others.
“Penplusbytes believes that it is necessary we separate the alleged financial misappropriation from the issues to do with the Chairpersons competency and interpersonal relationships and the general institutional and structural workings of the EC. Was there any money paid to Mr. Sulley either by cash or cheque into his personal account? If this was the case when did the Chairperson discover this? Is it the standard procedure for monies to be paid directly to deputy Commissioners for EC work? Was this allegation reported to any of the anti-corruption state institutions for proper investigation? Is there any contract that has been entered into and executed with the sole approval of Mrs. Opoku-Agyeman? Did she violate any of the EC constitutional provisions by her act? Why did the Chairperson keep this information till now? What are the laid down penalties for such misconducts within the constitutional provision? These are some questions we should consider in unraveling this current situation.
“It is evident that this current development can mar the successes chalked by the Electoral Commission in conducting elections for the past 25 years. Financial mistrust within the hierarchy of the Commission can impede the smooth operations of the institution, which was envied across Africa as highly functional. How these allegations are resolved now would inform political parties and the general public’s trust of the EC declared results in the next elections. Penplusbytes, which runs the African Elections Project, believes that public service workers need to set a benchmark for integrity, the statement further noted.
The organization says it has taken a strong stance against what is happening now at the EC, and that though it believes that due process must be followed in investigating and resolving the issues,
“At this stage we are of the opinion that irreparable damage has been done to the credibility of the current EC chairs. Regardless of what the process finds and whatever Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) measures that are used, it is doubtful that the three people, the EC Chair and her two deputies, will be able to work coherently together in the future.
“We therefore recommend that the EC Chairperson and two deputies do the honorable thing of resigning to save their reputation and that of the institution. We need to protect the sanctity of this state institution so as to keep intact the confidence the good people of Ghana have reposed in the Commission”.
Source: Jeorge Wilson Kingson || ghananewsonline.com.gh