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Opinions Fri, 29 Jun 2018

EC bosses dismissal: A smack of moral torpedo, unfortunate

I have been keeping a tab on the crisis that glutted the top echelon of Ghana’s electoral commission [EC].

At the outset of the ligation against Charlotte Osei [EC leader] and her two deputies, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwaa, I haggled to catch the drift of the whole idea of setting up a judicial committee to establish a prima facie case against the aforesaid EC leaders on the grounds of unknown petitioners! The mere mentioning of Forson Ampofo and other petitioners still raises question about the dubious origin of the petition.

Per my novice commonsensical convictions, the fact that we did not know the petitioners from the onset, and, also, the Chief Justice’s (CJ) Committee decided to operate in camera somewhat seemed to betray the implicit biases and political maneuvering in the whole case.

What are matters arising from CJ Committee of inquiry on the activities of EC leaders? “President Akufo-Addo has removed the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei and her two deputies, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwaa from office.

This comes after a 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” (Source: GHANAWEB.COM, June 28, 2018). Mr. President, we are curious to know the petitioners!

Government has been inconsistent relative to the petitioners! We were told faceless workers of EC. We were also told two drivers from EC petitioned the presidency! Now CJ committee report said one Forson Ampofo and other petitioners! Refusing to reveal the petitioners’ identity or per legal parlance, their further and better particulars is inimical to the right to a fair trial which is a salient feature of rule of law and democracy.

There is no gainsaying about the constitutional rights of the petitioners. Inasmuch as they are Ghanaians, my fellow compatriots, the petitioners can also not remain faceless! Ghanaians must know if the petitioners have the locus standi to do what they did. The suspicion that the petition could be hatched in the presidency is not a far cry from partisan politicians’ behavior.

Let me be stereotypical here! I agree with Mario Cumuo’s assertion that politicians campaign in poetry and rule in prose! Could they be political susurrus and machinations behind the petition? The government must come clear on the identity of the petitioners.

The faceless petition could be a catalyst for future political maneuvering. Other ruling parties can adopt these tactics to impeach state institution leaders appointed by their predecessor government.

The framers of 1992 constitution envisaged the imperative need for removing the scums of our society, even so, respect for human dignity, right to a fair trial must be followed to the letter. We are treading on a dangerous trajectory as a nation if political turgidity, Jacobinism, anarcho-syndicalism and panjandrum infiltrate into our democratic milestone.

Mr. President, if the EC Bosses have flouted the law, they are not above the law! EC is very sensitive state institution and having dishonest leaders at the commission is reminiscent of age-long Socratic analogy of giving a weapon to a madman. In the book one of Plato’s Republic, Socrates attempted to find the meaning Justice! His friend, Cephalus, defined justice as living up to one’s legal obligations and being honest! Socrates identified the drawbacks in the above definition. He linked it with a decision to return a weapon to a madman. You owe the madman his weapon in some sense if it belongs to him legally, and yet this would be an unjust act, since it would jeopardize the lives of others.

Thus, appointing dubious people into EC because they are Ghanaians could be unjust act, because their activities could hurt the lives of the citizenry! Conversely acting on capricious petition because it is a constitutional right of the petitioners could also be unjust act, because it risks derailing our democracy more than my ability will permit me to articulate! Mr. President, some of us are curious to know the petitioners to free us from mental disquietude! This idea of faceless petition and its concomitant impeachment of Charlotte Osei and her deputies is a very bad precedence for would-be presidents and future CJs.

The state has treated Charlotte Osei unfairly, considering that she was new on her job! Election-related procurement breaches in October 2016, in a lead-up to general election could have been resolved! Alternative dispute resolution approach could have been utilized to tackle EC crisis!

We have the right to do everything, but not everything is beneficial [1 Corinthians 10:23]. I think the appointment of Justice Sophia Akuffo is also an affront to judicial independence enshrined in our constitution.

The Judicial independence is established by Article 125(1) of the Ghanaian constitution which stipulates that 'justice emanated from the people and shall be administered in the name of the Republic by the Judiciary which shall be independent and subject only to the Constitution.'

Article 127(2) of the 1992 Constitution also states that 'neither the President nor the Parliament nor any person whatsoever shall interfere with judges and judicial officers or other persons exercising judicial power, in the exercise of their judicial functions,' and that all state organs must accord the courts such assistance as they may reasonably require to protect their 'independence, dignity and effectiveness.'

Suffice it to say that Justice Sophia Akuffo is not a blood relative of the president as we are made to believe, the fact she worked in the current executive president’s law chamber before raises question about conflict of interest [the process of sustaining social trust and differences between breaches of ethical duty and temptation to breach duty]. Chapter 24 of 1992 constitution of Ghana prohibits conflict of interest. God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.

Columnist: Nana Yaw Osei, Minnesota