General News of Thursday, 12 July 2018
US-based lawyer, Prof. Stephen K. Asare, has said President Nana Addo did not err by removing the EC Chairperson and her deputies.
The lawyer on Citi TV’s Point of View said due processes were followed in removing the EC Commissioners from office.
Explaining his argument, Prof. Asare argued that it was only right for the EC Chair and her deputies to be removed, given the many challenges that emerged ahead of the 2016 elections.
“I saw a lot of problems with the Electoral Commission. Before the election, problems with disqualifying candidates based on flimsy excuses. So many problems and of course a lot of issues they themselves have spoken about. Accusations by the EC Chairperson against other members, and the members also accusing the EC Chairperson, it was just right for them to go. I believe the right thing was done in this instance,”the lawyer said.
Charlotte Osei and her two deputies’ removal has been criticized by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), who view the move as an attempt by the NPP to rig the 2020 elections.
“They [NPP] have failed already. Ghanaians, everywhere you pass, are saying, for this government, we will see its back in 2020.…So the attempt and the fear, for which reason, they have set out to remove an arbiter of our elections and the two deputies so as to allow them to continue their rigging machinery. Ghanaians will not allow that to happen,” Kofi Adams, the NDC’s National Organizer had said.
Prof. Azar, however, disagreed with suggestions that their removal was deliberate.
He believes that although the EC Commissioners are independent, they are supposed to be held accountable for their actions.
“I do not think it is wrong, and I do not think you are changing the referees in the game. EC members are supposed to be independent, but being independent does not mean you are not accountable.They are also supposed to be accountable and the accountability mechanism is the petitioning process that Article 146 outlines. Article 146 empowers any citizen who sees wrongdoing at the Electoral Commission to file a petition with the President.”
The removal of Charlotte Osei and her two deputies, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwah from office followed a recommendation from a Committee set up by the Chief Justice to probe multiple complaints against the EC officials.
Allegations of procurement breaches and malfeasance were brought against them, following which the Chief Justice established a prima facie case against them.
The committee cited misbehaviour and incompetence as reasons for the dismissal, pursuant to Article 146(4) of the Constitution.
The Committee concluded that Charlotte Osei blatantly breached procurement laws in the award of several contracts in her three-year period at the helm of affairs, prior to the 2016 elections.
Removal not politically motivated
The government has stressed that the shake-up at the EC was not politically motivated.
The Director of Communications at the presidency, Eugene Arhin, said the President acted strictly according to the recommendations of the committee set up by the Chief Justice.
“Those critics will be completely off the mark. When this matter first broke our, we heard the two deputies were virtually against the chairperson herself. You heard the allegations they made. These persons who petitioned the president against Charlotte Osei were persons who worked at the Commission.”
Meanwhile, there are currently two lawsuits challenging the removal of the EC boss.
Two private citizens including known journalist Kweku Baako Jnr. have sued arguing that the committee that investigated the officials exceeded its mandate in recommending a removal.