Chief Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo has officially confirmed that she has set up a committee to investigate allegations brought against the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei and her two deputies – Amadu Sulley, in-charge of Operations and Mrs. Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, in-charge of Corporate Service.
A statement issued in Accra yesterday and signed by Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, Judicial Secretary, indicated that the proceedings of the five-member committee, to be chaired by a Supreme Court judge, would be in camera.
“The public is hereby informed that Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo, in accordance with Article 46 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-Amankwa,” the statement pointed out.
“The committee, which will sit in camera in line with normal practice, consists of three justices of the Superior Court appointed by the Judicial Council and two other persons appointed by the Chief Justice, on the advice of the Council of State. The committee is chaired by a justice of the Supreme Court.”
According to the statement, “The committee was established after the Chief Justice had determined that there was a prima facie case against the three officials of the Electoral Commission.”
The statement cautioned, “It is the expectation of the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council that the public will treat the committee with respect and dignity it deserves as it carries out its constitutional duty and refrain from making any comments that will undermine the work of the committee, since infractions may amount to contempt.”
DAILY GUIDE has learnt that the probe committee is chaired by Justice Alfred Anthony Benin of the Supreme Court, with Justices SK Marfo–Sau and Agnes Dodzie – both of the Court of Appeal – Abrah Appiah and Rose Karikari-Annan,Executive Secretary, Ghana Employers’ Association, being members.
On Monday, October 11, the committee had its maiden meeting where both the petitioners and the respondents had a face-to-face encounter.
The embattled EC boss, Charlotte Osei, had asked for the names of the committee members, but was not given.
The EC workers, who petitioned President Akufo-Addo were represented by two of them and led by their lawyer, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, with the rest waiting in the wings for the showdown.
The allegations leveled against the EC bosses have been consolidated into six, particularly on issues relating to procurement.
Charlotte was accompanied by Thaddeus Sory, who is the commission’s solicitor and also acting for the EC boss.
Sources claimed all along, the EC boss thought that her accusers were some faceless people, but appeared to have been taken aback a bit when she finally met the faces behind the first petition, who are all said to be staff of the commission.
Emmanuel Senyo, a non-EC staff who had filed a counter petition to the president against the two deputy commissioners, also met both Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa at the committee meeting.
He is said to have requested for two weeks to tidy up on his petition.
The committee, DAILY GUIDE gathered, had given all the parties three weeks to file their respective witness statements.
The paper understands that Mr Senyo relates James Kofi Afedo, the communication consultant working with the EC.
Mr Kofi Afedo, a known member of Movement for Mahama, a partisan group aligned to the NDC, was hired by Charlotte Osei and purportedly paid thousands of dollars.
The committee reportedly used the maiden meeting to explain the procedures, as well as the terms of reference to the petitioners and the respondents, with their lawyers participating actively.
A source said that the committee is most likely to commence its work in January next year; and all members serving on it were present.
DAILY GUIDE has learnt that since the problems at the EC escalated, the commission had not been able to meet, with decisions that need attention being singlehandedly addressed by Mrs Charlotte Osei.
The probe is being undertaken pursuant to Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution, after petitions and counter petitions had been sent to the president against the three top officials of the electoral body.
The committee was set up because there are sufficient grounds (prima facie) for impeachment of the officers who have been at loggerheads, jeopardizing the operations at the commission.
Prima Facie Case
The impeachment committee was established because the Chief Justice, in a preliminary investigation, reportedly established a prima facie case against the three EC bosses following separate petitions filed against them.
According to a source, several alleged infractions in the award of contracts at the EC would feature prominently in the committee’s investigations.
The preliminary investigations into the alleged scandal commenced last August when the Chief Justice wrote officially to the commissioners to file their responses to the allegation leveled against them in the respective petitions.
With the committee now in place, the respondents, who have not been working together, may now be asked to proceed on leave, pending the outcome of the probe.
By William Yaw Owusu