Rot tears Electoral Commission apart

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bf3e1167d3cbb557118788822f0f1556_L-As allegations of corruption scandals fly 
-Sulley accused of illegal vote transfers

THE integrity of Ghana’s elections management body – the Electoral Commission (EC) – is in complete shambles as the top three Commissioners out of the 7-member team, have been named in allegations of corruption relating to breaches of contracts and the public procurement act, managerial and administrative incompetence, lack of political neutrality, illegal voter transfers, among others.

These damming allegations are contained in two separate documents – a petition by unknown staff of EC to the President for removal of the EC Chair, Mrs Charlotte Osei, on one hand, and a point by point response from Mrs Osei to the petition on the other.
A perusal of the two documents suggests that all is well between Mrs Osei and her two Deputy Commissioners – Mrs Georgina Opoku Amankwah and Alhaji Amadu Sulley.
Mrs Georgina Opoku Amankwah performs dual role of Deputy Commissioner in charge of Corporate Services as well as Finance and Administration while Amadu Sulley is the Deputy Chairperson in charge of Operations. 
Allegations are rife that Mrs Osei’s endorsement of a request by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) that Mrs Amankwah should proceed on leave due to investigations into alleged misapplication of GH?480,000 staff endowment funds at the EC, triggered the petition to remove the EC Chairperson.
Mrs Osei in a response to a petition brought against her by some unnamed EC workers, accused her Deputy in Charge of Finance and Administration of signing contracts worth more than GH?40 million without authorisation.
Commission funds paid into personal accounts
She alleged that in some cases, Commission funds are paid into personal accounts of staff members in the region.
Amadu Sulley pockets GH?6m
She also alleged that Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations, Amadu Sulley, collected some GH?6 million from political parties, without the knowledge of the Finance Department of the Commission, saying he used party primaries as a “private commercial project”.
Deputy Chair Finance and Administration has also been accused of supervising a finance department which consistently flouted financial regulations. Mrs Osei branded the deputy as an incompetent leader.
The EC boss vowed to trigger investigations into the conduct of the two, one of whom is already a subject of investigations by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
‘Sins’ of Charlotte Osei
In a-27-point petition, allegations of misbehaviour, mismanagement have been made against Mrs Charlotte Osei.
The petition, signed by private legal practitioner, Maxwell Opoku Agyemang, who is counsel for the petitioners, stated, among others, that the Chairperson of the Commission in many instances breached the Procurement Law in procuring goods and services for the Commission.
One-woman show
In what the petitioners claim to be a one-woman show, they alleged that Mrs Osei, without recourse to the commission, engaged the services of lawyers who represented the Commission in the pre-election legal banter with aggrieved parties and disqualified flag bearers without going through the procurement process, contrary to the Public Procurement Act.
Breaches of Procurement Law in $21m contract
It further indicated that the commission signed a contract with Super Tech Limited (STL) on the premise that the voters’ registration exercise was going to be electoral-area based, but upon assumption of office as the Chairperson of the commission, Mrs Osei unilaterally abrogated the said contract without recourse to the same commission that had 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, and then awarded the contract to the tune of $21,999,592 in disregard of the Public Procurement Act.
$25,000 Logo
“The chairperson, Mrs Charlotte Osei unilaterally awarded a contract of about $25,000 to a South African company, Quazar Limited, to change and re-develop the Commission’s Logo under the guise of rebranding without going through tender contrary to the Public Procurement Act,” point 26 of the petition read.
2015 Land Cruiser from Presidency 
Apart from the breaches of the Procurement Law, the petitioners claimed the EC chair compromised her position and the independence of the Commission by attending cabinet meetings during the tenure of the John Mahama administration and even caused the arrangement of a 2015 Land Cruiser with registration number WR 2291-15 from the Office of the President for use as her official vehicle.
The petitioners also levelled allegations of managerial, administrative incompetence and ineptitude against the EC Chair.
Bad blood with 2 deputies 
“So bad is her human relations that the EC Chair is not on talking terms with the two other deputies and has not even visited any of the district EC offices ever since she was appointed, the petitioners claimed.
GH?1m for the renovation of official bungalow
“The chairperson has submitted an estimate of over 1 million for the renovation of the official bungalow for the Chairperson without recourse to the Commission or the appropriate staff in the commission,” the petitioners claimed.
‘Sins’ of Amadu Sulley – Deputy Chair, Operations

In her prepared response to EOCO and the Chief Justice, Mrs Osei alleged that Deputy Chair Operations, Amadu Sulley, persistently effected illegal vote transfers from his office on the Voter management System in clear breach of the law and operational policies of the Commission.
Such actions, she said, have major implications for the integrity of the work of the Commission and constitute abuse of office.
Pockets GH?6m
She further alleged that the Deputy Chair Operations collected funds totaling GH?6m in cash from political parties for the organisation of party primaries without recourse to the structures of the Commission, without the involvement of the finance department of the Commission. 
Political party primaries were treated as a private commercial project by the Deputy Chair Operations, with funds paid directly into the personal accounts of key staff for functions to be performed for party primaries.
“An internal audit report highlighting widespread malfeasance in the conduct of party primaries under the supervision of the Deputy Chair Operations is attached and marked CO28. This situation cannot be allowed to continue,” Mrs Osei wrote.
‘Sins’ of Georgina Opoku Amankwah Deputy Chair, Corporate Services/Finance and Administration
The Deputy Chairperson F/A was alleged to have signed contracts worth over GH?40m without knowledge and authorisation of the Chairperson between July-September 2015. 
Payments were also said to have been made on these contracts in excess of her approval limits and again, without the knowledge and authorisation of the Chairperson. 
“This is illegal, criminal and a breach of the policies of the Commission and the laws of Ghana,” Mrs Osei stated, adding that the supporting documents would be submitted to the relevant investigative agencies for their further action.
Mrs Osei further alleged that in June 2017, the annual leave of Deputy Chair Operations was approved by the Deputy Chair Corporate Services without recourse to the Chairperson and signed on behalf of Chairperson by Deputy Chair Corporate Services while she herself was on leave. 
“This is poor knowledge of corporate governance and managerial ineptitude. Indeed, the Deputy Chairperson corporate services has arrogated to herself the powers of the Chairperson, convening commission meetings and taking other ultra vires decisions in clear breach of the Law”.
According to her, the Deputy Chairperson in charge of Corporate Services went on an unauthorised leave from May 19-June 19 2017 without notice to the Chairperson and without prior approval. A sick leave note was subsequently submitted to the Director of Human Resource.
She added while on leave in June 2017, the Deputy Chairperson, without authorisation and notice to the Chairperson, approved 2015 financial statements of the Commission, increased the amount for fuel coupons beyond budgeted levels and without prior knowledge of the Chairperson or the Commission.
“Clearly, there is ample evidence of poor knowledge of corporate governance, rules of public service financial management and general incompetence.
“Under the supervision of the Deputy Chair corporate services, staff in the finance department have flouted many financial regulations, amended bank mandates, and made many unauthorised payments beyond their approval levels and without the knowledge of the Chairperson.
“Again, supporting documents would be submitted to the appropriate agencies for further investigation.
“The poor financial management systems within the Commission are systemic,” the EC boss concluded.

By Elvis DARKO, Accra

ABOUT: Nana Kwesi Coomson

[email protected]

A Freelance Journalist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of www.233times.com. A contributory writer for Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morgan

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