The vice presidential candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has refuted earlier claims by his spokesperson, Anthony Karbo, that two electoral officers, went to his house at Walewale in the Northern Region to verify him in the ongoing voter verification and re-registration exercise.
According to a statement issued by Simon Ali, the Walewale Constituency Secretary of the party, on behalf of Dr. Bawumia, he said the claim by the NDC last Friday, was a desperate attempt to nail the economist, which has fallen flat.
Anthony Karbo, the NPP’s Laura Parliamentary Candidate, who doubles as spokesperson for Dr. Bawumia, had jumped to the defense of Dr. Bawumia, after the District EC Director, Benjamin Bamubio, confirmed the news and the subsequent dismissal of two his officers to Accra-based Joy FM, saying the act was normal, as it is done for people of high repute in society like Dr. Bawumia.
“Indeed, my understanding is that, they [EC officials] only brought the electoral register. He looked at it and realized that his name was still on the register, and then asked them to go,” Anthony Karbo”, explained.
Anthony Karbo said, the incident was not the first, and has dismissed suggestions that electoral laws have been broken.
“In Laura for instance, the Paramount Chief of Laura, didn’t go down to get himself registered. For many of the paramount chiefs, the EC officials take the document to them,” he defended.
Anthony Karbo, said the officials, who have been sacked by the Commission, excitedly took the voters register to, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia’s house for him to verify his particulars.
“Dr Bawumia lives in a village called Kpelga, and it is a polling station. He has always gone out there to verify his particulars until the EC officials were excited to bring the register to his house,” he told Evans Mensah, host of Joy FM’s Top Story programme on Friday.
Mr. Karbo says “People don’t have to necessary be there [go to polling stations] to be biometrically verified,” adding, EC officials can at times go to homes of influential Ghanaians to help them access electoral services.
“Paramount Chief of Lawra didn’t go down to verify,” he said, noting, “the EC took the register to him, and there was nothing wrong with it.”
But Simon Ali, the Walewale Constituency Secretary of the party, on behalf of Dr. Bawumia in his statement, had admitted that, indeed the sacked officers, Jobey Ambrose and Mumuni Latiff, earlier on Sunday, July 24, 2016, voluntarily brought their biometric verification equipment and voter documents to Dr. Bawumia’s house to verify him, but met his absence.
He said, later when he returned from the funeral of the late Nasia Chief in Nalerigu to Walewale around 5pm, Dr. Bawumia, went to his family home, where he was informed that the EC Officers, had come to verify him.
Though that act according to the EC contravenes the electoral laws, Ali explained that, the officers took that decision, because the clouds had formed and it was possible it was going to rain.
He maintained that, Dr. Bawumia, however, declined the offer and rather decided to proceed to the Polling Centre, which is outside the family house.
“When Dr.Bawumia came out of his family house to get verified, he met the two EC officers, moving to seek shelter since the clouds had gotten darker. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia was, therefore, verified where he met the officers – just adjacent to where the Polling Centre had been set up and not in his residence; not even by its gate”, he claimed.
The NDC had alleged that the decision to get Dr. Bawumia verified in his home was purposely to remove suspected members of the party from the electoral roll and that the two officers were motivated with cash amount of GH¢10,000.
But Ali refuted it saying “This is hallucination of the highest order. Why would anyone pay to get verified when verification is free and takes absolutely no time? “What benefit is there in Dr. Bawumia paying EC officials during this verification exercise? As to how the NDC comes by such creations, is something only they and probably Psychiatrics can explain”.
However, narrating the issue to Joy news last Friday, the District EC Director, Benjamin Bamubio, said, the Commission, got wind of the incident, following a tip-off.
He said, the duo when interrogated, said someone called them that there were some people who were on their way to check their particulars.
After having waited for some time and nobody showed up, they were later told the people were inside a particular house.
The two without thinking about the implications of their actions took the register and verification machine to the said house.
When they got to the house, they were asked to verify the particulars of Dr Bawumia. “This is something that was against the Electoral Commission, so I instructed the supervisors to immediately drop the two and replace them with new officers to continue the work for the EC,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NDC, is asking for a harsher punishment for the two, other than a mere dismissal.
Walewale Constituency Communications Officer, Imoro Abdul Razak, says information reaching them indicates this has been the plan of the opposition NPP in the District to influence the verification process.
“Our investigation has shown that a senior official at the District office instructed the two officers to send the Biometric Verification Device (BVD) to Dr Bawumia’s house,” he said, adding, an alarm must be raised as the nation marches into the election.
The Deputy Director of Communication at the EC, Yusif Alhassan, has condemned the decision by two of its officials to send the voters’ register and verification machine to the residence of the running mate of Nana Akufo Addo, saying the officers, violated the Commission’s rules by verifying Dr. Bawumia at his residence.
“At no point should you go to anybody’s house to verify the person or let the person check his or her name so based on this the people were relieved of their duties and a new set of team was appointed. As at close of day yesterday, the Regional Directorate had received a report from the Supervisor so they are studying it and they will send a team on the ground to do further investigations and a report will be submitted to the Electoral Commission.”
“The rule if very clear; you are supposed to stay at the exhibition centre, you are not supposed to move to anybody’s home or any other place except you are sitting at the centre to be verified, ”Yusif Alhassan argued on The Big Issue on CitiFM.
He also confirmed that, the two had been sacked for violating the Commission’s terms of agreement.