Akufo-Addo to name new EC chair this week

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Barring any late hour hurdle, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will announce a new Chairperson for the Electoral Commission (EC) this week.

Two deputies will also be named.

A source close to the Presidency told the Daily Graphic that a final decision was yet to be made on a fourth appointee.

Asked if the public would be satisfied with the President’s choice, it said: “By and large, the public will accept the names.”

It declined to give the gender or names of the potential appointees but gave an assurance that Ghanaians would not be disappointed in the choices.

On the question of whether or not the President would pull a huge surprise on the people as he did with the appointment of the Special Prosecutor, the source said: “The President made wide consultations and as a result, the fears of skeptics will be allayed.”

There are currently two writs pending at the Supreme Court challenging the removal of the former Chairperson of the EC, Mrs. Charlotte Osei.

In two separate suits, the plaintiffs, Ms. Fafali Nyonator and the Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Mr. Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, are praying the Supreme Court to overturn the decision of the committee that recommended Mrs. Osei’s removal on the grounds of stated misbehavior and incompetence.

The Supreme Court is yet to fix dates for the hearing of the cases.

Deputy Attorney-General

In a soon-to-air interview granted Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana programme, a Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Godfred Yeboah Dame, said nothing barred the President from appointing a new EC Chair and deputies.

In a two-minute-thirty-second video available to the Daily Graphic, the host of the programme, Mr. Paul Adom-Otchere, asked Mr. Dame if the President felt inhibited to appoint a new EC Chair and deputies due to the court cases, and Mr. Dame said: “I do not see any constraint or whatsoever.”

He said the Supreme Court had had the opportunity to pronounce on what a public officer could do under such a circumstance.

“One fundamental principle is that the courts are slow to restrain the exercise of a constitutional power, so in principle, the courts of Ghana will encourage the exercise of a constitutional power and I think in this situation it is very imperative to exercise that constitutional power,” he said.

He said the EC had an election to conduct and indicated that the conduct of an election was not an event but a process.

Mr. Dame said he believed Ghanaians would support the filling of the vacancies at the EC to ensure smooth operations.

The following ensued between Mr. Adom-Otchere and Mr. Dame:

Mr. Adom-Otchere: Have you advised the President to appoint an Electoral Commissioner?

Mr Dame: In the interest of the nation and in the interest of ensuring that there is no unnecessary hiccup or hold back to the operations of the EC and to the extent that there is no legal impediment in his way from appointing a new Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, yes, the President can go ahead and appoint the Chairperson of the EC, together with two deputy chairpersons.

Mr. Adom-Otchere: Is he going to do it?

Mr. Dame: My view is that in the absence of any legal impediment, yes, he is going to do it and I am sure he will do it.

Mr. Adom-Otchere: When will he do it?

Mr. Dame: Very soon, pretty soon … In the next few days; very imminent.

Background

Mrs. Osei was removed on June 28, 2018, based on recommendations of the committee set up to investigate her and her deputies over allegations of corruption and misconduct.

A statement signed and issued by the Minister of Information, Dr. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, had said: “The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has, on Thursday, June 28, 2018, removed from office the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, Mr. Amadu Sulley and Ms. Georgina Opoku-Amankwah, with immediate effect.

“This was after the committee set up by the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo, pursuant to Article 146 (4) of the Constitution, to investigate separate complaints brought against the three persons by Ghanaian citizens recommended their removal from office.”

It added: “The committee recommended their removal on the basis of stated misbehavior and incompetence, pursuant to Article 146(1) of the Constitution.

“The provisions of Article 146 (9) of the Constitution require the President of the Republic to act in accordance with the recommendations of the committee.”

Petition

Some concerned workers of the EC, in July 2017, petitioned the President and the Chief Justice to begin impeachment processes against  Mrs. Osei.

They accused Mrs. Osei of taking unilateral decisions without recourse to the appropriate departments of the EC, not even her deputies.

The group also accused the EC Chair of engaging in fraudulent activities, citing her decision to cancel a contract awarded to Superlock Technologies Limited (STL) to supply and manage biometric voter registration machines (BVRs) and the biometric voter devices (BVDs), as well as her directive for the payment of $76,000 to the IT firm, Dream Oval.

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