A Law Lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Clement Akapame, has said that the Chief Justice’s Committee, which investigated complaints against the three top officials of the Electoral Commission, did not have the authority to recommend their outright removal from office.
He argues that the Committee by its nature was a fact-finding committee, and could have only found evidence for subsequent determination by a court of competent jurisdiction.
President Akufo-Addo last Thursday removed the Chairperson of the EC, Charlotte Osei, and her two deputies, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amakwah from office, based on the recommendations of a Committee constituted by the Chief Justice to look into petitions from some Ghanaian citizens brought against the officials.
But Clement Akapame said the committee’s conclusions that the officials were guilty of misbehaviour and incompetence, could only be considered as allegations that needed to be proven before a court for a determination of a criminal offence.
“The committee is a quasi-judicial committee and they are making an inquisition into whether or not she has misconducted herself or she is incompetent, which will be grounds for her removal, but whether or not the committee can emphatically make a pronouncement that an act of parliament has been breached, which determination means that the crime has occurred, even though there will be facts before them to point to the breach, because it is a crime, I will rather have that matter determined by a court…. What we have now is the recommendation made by the committee saying that the procurement act has been breached. At best, that is an allegation. Even though they have facts, that is an allegation that needs to be proven. That matter needs to be examined by a court to say that, that crime has occurred,” he said.
Government communicators have justified President Akufo-Addo’s action, saying he was obliged by the constitution to carry out the recommendations of the committee.
A Ghanaian, Fafali Nyonator, has however sued the Attorney General over the removal of the Electoral Commission chairperson, Charlotte Osei from office.
In a suit filed on today [Tuesday], she is asking the court to declare that the committee set up by the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo, to investigate separate complaints brought against the three commissioners at the Electoral Commission, exceeded their powers by recommending the removal of the commissioners, and that the recommendations in the report be declared null and void.
Among other reliefs she is seeking, she wants “an order of perpetual injunction restraining His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana from appointing any persons to the person of Chairperson of the Electoral Commission until that position has become lawfully vacant in accordance with proper processes and procedures as by law established.”