Ahead Of Farewell Meeting
Outgoing U.S. Ambassador, who is billed to have his last meeting with President Nana Akufo-Addo as head of the US mission in Ghana, has been shadowboxing his friend, over the removal of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission(EC); Charlotte Osei, ahead of their farewell meeting.
Robert P. Jackson, has said he is “very troubled” about the description of the dismissed Chairperson of the EC as “incompetent”.
The outspoken US Ambassador, said despite her removal from office, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, remains one of the most competent persons he has ever met.
President Akufo-Addo on June 28, 2018, removed Charlotte Osei and her two deputies – Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwa, from office upon the recommendation of a committee set up by the Chief Justice, to investigate separate complaints brought by some Ghanaian citizens.
Charlotte Osei, was accused of various procurement breaches by some faceless EC workers, whilst the deputies were also found guilty of same offenses as well as financial malfeasance.
Although, government spokespersons have justified the move, some members of the opposition have challenged it, saying Madam Charlotte Osei, who was appointed by then President John Mahama, was only hounded out to enable the NPP rig the election in 2020.
But reacting to Mrs. Osei’s dismissal on Class FM last Friday, July 13, 2018, Mr. Jackson said: “I don’t want to get into a debate about whether she was rightly impeached or not, I think that is for the court to decide, but, I have been very troubled about the accusation that she is incompetent, some people have used that word, but Charlotte Osei is one of the most competent people I have ever met.”
Last year, the U.S. Embassy, honoured Mrs Osei with the 2017 Women of Courage Award which is given annually to women around the world who have shown leadership, courage, and willingness to sacrifice for others, especially in promoting women’s rights.
Mr Jackson said: “I would give her the award as Woman of Courage again today if we were to do it over. I still believe that she and her fellow commissioners conducted the fairest, most transparent election I have ever personally witnessed. It was a tremendous success.
“I do not know if she violated any laws, I understand from what I’ve heard and read that the decision she made to rebuild the website during the election after it was hacked may have been in contravention of Ghana’s procurement laws but I also understand that the time was of the essence, so, I think she, from what I know, acted on what she felt was the right thing to do at the time.”
In 2017, a five-member committee was set up by Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo to investigate alleged acts of corruption involving Mrs. Osei and her two Deputies.
Some staff of the EC petitioned Nana Akufo-Addo to remove Mrs. Osei from office over allegations of fraud and financial malfeasance as well as abuse of office.
Mrs. Osei also counter-alleged corruption against her deputies insisting that she has done nothing wrong and only being hounded out because she is fighting internal graft. The president, in accordance with the constitution, forwarded the petition to the Chief Justice to look into the matter. The committee, after its work, recommended that Mrs. Osei and her deputies be removed from office.
The Editor-in-Chief of the Crusading Guide Newspaper, Mr. Kweku Baako, sued government over the dismissal of Charlotte Osei but said he is not against an appointment of a new EC boss by his friend President Akufo-Addo.
In a writ invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for the interpretation of the Constitution, Mr Kwaku Baako, argued that the Chief Justice Committee which investigated petitions for the removal of the EC Boss exceeded its constitutional mandate.
He thus asked the Supreme Court to pronounce the removal inconsequential. His suit came after another Ghanaian, Fafali Nyonator, also sued the Attorney General against the removal of Charlotte Osei.
Meanwhile, President Nana Akufo-Addo, according to government agent will soon nominate a Chairperson for the Electoral Commission, as well as two persons to fill the vacancy created by the two dismissed deputy commissioners, despite some lawsuits challenging the removal of Charlotte Osei from office.
“My view is that in the absence of any legal impediments, yes, he [President Akufo-Addo] would want to do it [appoint new EC chair], and I’m sure he will do it very soon. In the next few days,” Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Dame has said.
Godfred Dame in an interview with Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana, said the appointment of a new EC chair, will commence regardless of the legal lawsuits.
“I do not see any constraint or whatsoever, and the Supreme Court of Ghana has had ample opportunity to pronounce on what a public officer or authority can do in such circumstance. And one fundamental principle is that the courts are slow to restraining the exercise of a constitutional power. So in principle, the courts of Ghana will encourage the exercise of a constitutional power. And I think in this situation there is imperative for the exercise of such a constitutional power,” he explained.
Mr Dame again said it is imperative for the president to fast-track the process in order not to bring the work of the EC to a halt over the absence of a Chairperson.
“…We have an Electoral Commission which has various functions to perform as to the number of elections to prepare for. Conduct of an election is not an event, it is a process that commences with a lot of indoor measures and mechanisms put in place by the EC, before they actually engage in the process of voter registration among others.”
“I think in the interest of the nation and the interest of ensuring that there is no unnecessary hiccup or hold back to the operations of the EC, and to the extent that there is no legal impediment, legal impediment in his way from appointing a new chairperson of the electoral commission, yes, the president can go ahead and appoint a chairperson of the electoral commission together with two deputy chairpersons,” he added.
Meanwhile, Joy FM claims that Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, is set to be named the next EC boss, saying the President is keen on replacing the first female EC boss with another female.
The law professor, who failed in her bid to become a judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC), will become the fourth Electoral Commissioner under the fourth republic which began in 1993.
The criminal law professor, who has been hobnobbing with international organisations such as the United Nations (UN), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), once held the rank of Assistant UN Secretary-General in 2007, when she was appointed the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Rule of Law (DSRSG) in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
But many Ghanaians, would remember her time as a member of the National Reconciliation Commission, which heard victims of human rights abuses during military juntas tell harrowing stories as Ghanaians dealt with a troubled past.
The Yale-educated law lecturer, who has gathered years of experience in the peace-building industry, comes to the Commission at a troubled time.