The woes of the sacked Electoral Commission (EC) Chairperson Charlotte Osei, appear not to be over, as the commission’s staff, who initiated her removal from office, are still pursuing her over alleged corrupt deals.
This time round, they are heading to the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, with a dossier on the former EC Boss to ensure her prosecution.
“We wish to state that we shall use all legal means available to us to ensure that her removal is permanent and cast in stone,” one of the petitioners, Rabiu Sulemana, who spoke on behalf of the EC staff that were the petitioners in Mrs. Osei’s case, said at a news conference in Accra yesterday.
Apart from Rabiu Sulemana, the EC staff, who were at the press conference, included Forson Ampofo, a Senior Electoral Officer and Chairman of the EC Senior Staff Union in Ashanti Region, Bernice Asante, Gershon Kwami Agbesi, Victor Achideka, Joseph Lartey, James Addo and Godsway Dadzo.
Breaking their silence for the first time since President Akufo-Addo dismissed Mrs. Osei and her deputies, Amadu Sulley, in-charge of Operations and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, in-charge of Corporate Services, based on the recommendations of a committee set up by the Chief Justice, the petitioners said they have a fresh evidence that the EC boss gave contracts without recourse to the law and procedures.
They said they could not include the latest allegation in the previous petition because they discovered it late.
The petitioners added that the committee that did the investigation did not allow them to submit it.
“In addition to submitting the grounds which formed the basis for her dismissal, we are also prepared to submit to the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, complaint and evidence of her dealings with other companies and individuals, which we deem amount to abuse of office, breach of trust and conflict of interest.”
Pink Sheet Contract
The agitated EC staff mentioned the printing of pink sheets for the 2016 polls.
“We speak to her dealings in the Aerovote contract. We have evidence to the effect that even before the tender into the contract was opened, Mrs. Charlotte Osei patently ignored a conflict of interest situation when she recommended, supervised, approved and awarded a contract of GH¢7,235,008.54 to Aerovote Security Printing Ghana Limited, whose director used to be a client of Prime Attorneys, a law firm owned by Mrs. Charlotte Osei.”
They claimed “even before the procurement process began, there was email correspondence between Mrs. Charlotte Osei, lawyers of Prime Attorneys, and a representative of Aerovote Security Printing Ghana Limited about the procurement process that was yet to begin,” adding “Aerovote Ghana Limited was not included in the initial shortlisted companies approved by the Public Procurement Authority to print the carbonized papers (pink sheets).”
The petitioners alleged that “following Mrs. Osei’s correspondence with the representative of Aerovote, she applied to PPA to alter the initial approved list to include Aerovote. She, in the process, excluded Messrs Buck Press Limited, a registered commission supplier whose tender was the most price competitive. Messrs Buck Press, upon realizing that it has been unfairly treated, petitioned the Public Procurement Authority.”
The petitioners debunked reports that those behind the impeachment were ‘faceless’ people as speculated by Charlotte Osei and her supporters, saying “we want to state emphatically that the petition was presented by 17 workers of the Electoral Commission.”
“The names and signatures of all petitioners were presented to the President as part of our petition, who also presented same to the Chief Justice to determine whether a prima facie case had been made against Charlotte Osei. It’s unthinkable to suggest that the President of the Republic would receive a petition without petitioners and forward same to the chief justice, who would proceed to make a prima facie determination without satisfying themselves that there were petitioners.”
They said that Charlotte Osei and her lawyers knew about the existence of all the 17 petitioners, saying “during cross examination of Mr. Forson Ampofo, our representative and witness at the hearing of the petition, lawyers of Mrs. Charlotte Osei mentioned three names of the 17 petitioners. For instance, they asked Mr. Forson Ampofo whether or not Bernice Asante, one of the petitioners, was present with Mr. Forson Ampofo at every sitting of the committee. In addition, they asked questions about the death of Mr. George Adjavukewe. The question is if the respondent was not made aware of the petitioners how did they get to know that these three persons, apart from Mr. Forson Ampofo, were part of the petitioners.”
They dismissed reports that the petition was filed by a dead person, saying “this is a complete lie manufactured to court public sympathy which is non-existent.”
They said in the course of the in-camera hearing, all the 16 petitioners travelled to the venue of the sitting and appealed to the committee to acknowledge their presence but Mrs. Charlotte Osei’s lawyers objected.
“In the record, lawyers for Mrs. Charlotte Osei asked Mr. Forson Ampofo if he was aware Mr. Adjavukewe died in November 2017 to which Mr. Forson Ampofo answered that he was unsure of the date. Now, it’s public knowledge that we presented our petition in July, 2017. Therefore, if by Mrs. Charlotte Osei’s own admission, the gentleman died in November, 2017, wherein lies the fraud?”
The petitioners further said when they got information that Mrs. Charlotte Osei was at loggerhead with her deputy commissioners, the Senior Staff Union tried to resolve the issue amicably but the sacked EC boss ignored the union and asked them to write an apology letter to her.
They said it was strange for supporters of the sacked EC boss to condemn the authorities for taking such an action, but support the dismissal of former CHRAJ Boss, Lauretta Vivian Lamptey.
“We say that the case of Mrs. Charlotte Osei is worse compared to Ms. Lauretta Lamptey, and as workers of the EC, if we had the chance to tolerate the infractions of these two public officers, we have no doubt that we would prefer one over the other and the choice is obvious. Whereas Ms. Lamptey was sacked for spending about $200,000 without due process, Mrs. Osei, in some instances, gave out contracts over $7 million above her own limits. If this is not misbehavior and incompetence, then we do not know what else it can be.”
“In Charlotte Osei, we had a chairperson who ran the Electoral Commission as if it was her own personal property. She acted unilaterally in many instances without the knowledge of her fellow commissioners. She gave out contracts without recourse to the law and procedures made to regulate her conduct in that regard. She ordered payment of money to institutions that had no contract with the Electoral Commission. The evidence presented to the hearing of the matter was overwhelming and only led to the conclusion that she was incompetent to hold that position.”
They added that “we are willing to cooperate with the Special Prosecutor’s Office to investigate each and every contract to bring her to book in instances where she is found culpable.
When asked why all the petitioners were not at the press conference, Mr. Ampofo said some were indisposed while others travelled to distant places like the Northern Region.