|Mrs. Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of Ghana Electoral Commission|
The petitioner, Douglass Seidu, a lawyer, is claiming that Mrs Osei was in breach of public procurement practices and provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 663), as well as gross financial mismanagement. He accused the EC boss of awarding contracts amounting to GH¢249,081,895.03 and $71,406,388.80 respectively without following the required procurement processes and laws.
The petition, which was filed on August 18 at the office of the president, claimed Mrs Charlotte Osei unilaterally awarded contracts in the run-up to the 2016 general elections without recourse to the 7-member commission.
There are 15 allegations leveled against the EC boss in the fresh petition, and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has reportedly forwarded the petition to the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, pursuant to Article 146 (3) of the 1992 Constitution. Charlotte Osei has up to September 5, 2017 to respond to a previous petition.
The new petition has been titled: ‘In the matter of Article 46 of the 1992 Constitution and in the matter of the removal of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, from office on the grounds of stated misbehaviour and incompetence.’
According to the petitioner, the action is being initiated pursuant to Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution, to trigger impeachment proceedings against the EC chairperson.
Giving the grounds for triggering the impeachment proceedings, the petitioner claimed that in the 2016 fiscal year, “The respondent unilaterally awarded various contracts in respect of voters’ registration, exhibition of the voters’ register and general elections, which contracts amount to GH¢249,081,895.03 and $71,406,388.80 respectively without following the required procurement processes and laws.”
According to Mr Douglass Seidu, the EC boss allegedly failed, neglected and refused “to subject the said contracts to the Entity Tender Board and the Tender Review Committees, contrary to Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 663) (as amended).”
The petitioner attached as exhibit a summary for the said contracts awarded by Mrs. Osei allegedly without recourse to the Entity and Tender Review Committee, as well as the copies for the actual contract.
Mr Douglass Seidu further claimed that Mrs Osei, without recourse to the committee, unilaterally awarded contracts to IT Market Limited and Ideyas Design Agency, amounting to GH¢1,823,625 and GH¢19,800 respectively in apparent breach of the requirements for tender under the Public Procurement Act; and attached exhibits to that effect.
“The respondent failed, neglected and refused to submit a contract awarded to Dream Oval Limited to competitive tender and unilaterally awarded a contract amounting to $32,510, to Dream Oval Limited for the development and redesign of the website of the EC, contrary to Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 663).”
According to Mr Seidu, Dream Oval Limited was introduced to the commission by Ms Charlotte Osei and therefore awarding the company the contract, she fell into a conflict of interest situation.
The petitioner claimed that in order to “arrogate procurement powers to herself, the EC boss, upon assumption of office, has been chairing both the Entity Tender Board and the Tender Review Committee of the commission at the same time.
“The respondent has collapsed the Tender Review Committee and constituted herself into a sole member of the review committee by sidelining the two deputy chairpersons, who by law are also supposed to be members,” the petitioner alleged.
He said, “This action resulted in the respondent being the sole reviewer and awarding authority at the EC, in clear breach of oversight responsibility in public procurement,” adding, “This has resulted to situations where the respondent unilaterally approves and awards contracts without minutes from the Tender Review Committee.”
Mr Seidu claimed that the EC chairperson again awarded a contract amounting to GH¢154,218 for printing a customized letterhead “after unilaterally changing the logo of the EC,” and the contract had been unilaterally awarded by the commissioner without recourse to the entire commission.
“The respondent insisted that the customized letterhead should have the names of all the commissioners embossed on it. This has the proclivity of causing financial loss to the state in the event that a member of the EC was to retire in the near future,” Mr Seidu noted.
“The unwavering desire for the respondent to treat the EC as if it was her private company underscores her overt lack of understanding of public administration and amounts to incompetence,” the petition stated.
According to the petitioner, Mrs Osei also spent GH¢265,051.46 “on her unilateral decision to rebrand the EC. This needless misappropriation of national resources by a public official must be of grave concern to every Ghanaian.”
Already, there is an initial petition from unnamed EC staff who are being led by Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, against Mrs. Osei, which is pending before the Chief Justice.
A litany of allegations have been leveled against her, including spending GH¢3.9 million to partition an office, receipt of a Toyota Land Cruiser from the erstwhile Mahama-led NDC government, spending about $14 million when the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) had authorized her to use only $7.5 million, as well as attending Cabinet meetings during the tenure of President John Dramani Mahama, among other issues.
As a result, preliminary investigations into the purported abuse of power and corruption scandal commenced recently.
The Chief Justice reportedly wrote officially to the embattled EC boss to respond to the damning allegations that could lead to her impeachment.
The two other commissioners – Amadu Sulley, in-charge of Operations and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, in-charge of Corporate Services – who have running battles with Mrs. Osei, were equally being written to for the provision of answers to counter petitions against them, seeking their respective removals from office. That petition was said to have been initiated by someone who is said to be very close to Charlotte Osei.
Legal experts say that if a prima facie case is established against any of the commissioners during the preliminary investigations, the Chief Justice, per the rules, will then set up a committee to fully investigate the issues and a report submitted to the president – who forwarded the petitions for action.