Hon Bernard Ahiafor
Hon Bernard Ahiafor, Member of Parliament (MP) for Akatsi South Constituency has said, the removal of the Electoral Commission (EC) Chairperson, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, from office has posed a dangerous precedent and a serious threat to Ghana’s democracy.
According to him, the Chief Justice Committee that investigated the EC boss and her two deputies, Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwaa, under questionable petition by faceless individual has injured the credibility of the electoral body and image of the country.
Mrs Charlotte Osei and her two deputies were removed by the President following a recommendation by the Chief Justice, Madam Sophia Akuffo committee that investigated an alleged breach of the Public Procurement Act.
But speaking on the matter with THE REPUBLIC, Mr Ahiafor said, the CJ’s committee has no such powers in the first place to recommend for the removal of the EC boss simply on administrative lapses.
He said, the EC boss per the 1992 Constitution could only be removed if she failed to perform her lawful duty per the function of the Commission and not an act where there are prescribed sanctions.
“The Constitution provides specific grounds for the removal of the EC boss. Infirmity of body or mind, stated misbehaviour and incompetence are the grounds. All these grounds have one thing in common, they are not breaches of any law. That, to my mind, is a strong indication that the framers of the constitution intends legal breaches to take their normal course,” Mr Ahiafor argued.
The Akatsi South lawmaker further explained that, the Procurement Act, on the other hand, provides specific remedies for its breaches. It also specifies the procedures for reaching such remedies.
But none of those remedies includes removal from office neither does the mechanism for reaching the remedies include petitioning the President or a hearing by a CJ committee, stating, ” In fact, the appropriate forum for determining legal breaches is not the CJ’s office. It is a court of law.”
Legally, Mr Ahiafor said both the Chief Justice and the President have set bad and dangerous precedent which could erode the independency of the Electoral Commission and destroy the country vibrant legal system and create mistrust in the minds of dissenting people.
He maintained that, the President erred for removing the EC Chairperson from her post per Procurement Laws, when those types of breaches have their allocated punishment.
“It is a dangerous precedent to use the breaches of an act to cause the removal of the EC boss when the act has its own form of punishment,” he stated.
Politically, Mr Ahiafor said Ghanaians are all witnesses to the fact that the NPP made lots of agitations and protests while in opposition concerning Charlotte Osei appointment and that is exactly what they have just done.
He stressed that, reading the bits and pieces of the Committee findings, the cross examination of the EC boss and the final submission of the five-member committee, there is evidence of a serious conspiracy and traverse of justice.
The law on Procurement he said, stated that the head of an entity has the mandate to sign contracts, stressing, “so in this sense where did the EC boss go wrong with the Public Procurement Act, which caused her removal?”
Mr Ahiafor contended that all the adverse findings made against the EC boss and the deputies are related to breaches of the Public Procurement Law and not the conduct of elections and other related issues, which are the core mandate of the Electoral Commission.
He expressed the view that, a peripheral issue like violation of the Public Procurement law should not constitute enough grounds for the impeachment of the EC Boss whose position is equivalent to a Court of Appeal Judge under the laws of Ghana.
“This is particularly so because the Public Procurement Act specifies remedies for its breaches and this does not include removal from office,” he contended.
The Akatsi South MP argued that, the NPP’s unprovoked aversion for Mrs. Charlotte Osei was obvious from day one when she was appointed by former President John Mahama in 2015, adding that, soon after her appointment, the NPP attacked with campaign of hate and eventually she became a victim of jaundiced resentment from the NPP and its elements.
The General Secretary of the NPP, Mr. John Boadu, the Deputy General Secretary of the NPP, Nana Obiri Boahen and Gabby Otchere Darko, nephew of the President, attacked and threatened to remove Charlotte Osei if elected and that is exactly what they have done.
All these, Mr Ahiafor said, posed a threat to the independence and neutrality of the Electoral Commission and has the potential of eroding the gains we have made in the last twenty-six (26) years of multi-party democracy,stating,” danger beget us as a country.”
Georgina OPOKU Amankwah
Nevertheless the Committee finding and recommendation, he explained could be appeal in the form of certiorari for the decision to be quash null and void.
He added that Ghanaians should not take the EC kindly and call on the Peace Council of Ghana, Religious Leaders, the Chiefs and traditional Authorities and all Ghanaians to rise up against the obvious illegality and injustice.
Source: the republic need online.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba