The infighting that has rocked the Electoral Commission (EC) is taking a new twist following the decision by one of the Deputy Chairpersons on interdiction, Georgina Opoku Amankwaah – in charge of Corporate Services at the commission – to resume work.
The latest development is likely to spark another heated political debate over the manner in which the electoral body is being managed.
DAILY GUIDE understands that lawyers for Ms. Opoku Amakwaah had asked their client to resume work in defiance of Economic and Organised Crime Office’s (EOCO’s) directive that she stays out of work to allow investigations into the alleged misappropriation of the commission’s Staff Endowment Fund.
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In July last year, Ms. Opoku Amankwaah, together with two EC officials – Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi, Chief Accountant and Dr Joseph Asamoah, a Finance Director – were asked to proceed on leave over a missing GH¢480,000 from the Staff Endowment Fund, after the EC boss, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, had asked EOCO to investigate the matter.
Already, Mrs Charlotte Osei, together with her two deputies – Georgina Opoku Amankwaah and Alhaji Amadu Sulley, in-charge of Operations – are being investigated by a five-member committee set up by the Chief Justice, following petitions filed against them on allegations of abuse of office and conflict of interest under Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution.
Mrs. Charlotte Osei and Amadu Sulley are still at post and have not been asked to step aside for the investigation to commence, although Ms. Opoku Amankwaah is on suspension on the orders of the EC boss.
The lawyers of Ms. Opoku Amankwaah, led by K. A. Asante Krobea, have reportedly written to the EOCO notifying the investigative body that the deputy commissioner was resuming work, even though the EOCO has said it was still investigating the alleged misappropriation of the Endowment Fund, based on which she was suspended.
They insisted that with the setting up of the Chief Justice’s committee to look into the abuse of office and conflict of interest claims against the three EC bosses, the EOCO has no basis to insist that the deputy EC chairperson should still stay at home.
The letter to the EOCO, dated January 2, 2018 with the heading, ‘Endowment Fund Investigation Resumption of Official Duty Our Client: Georgina Opoku Amankwaah (Ms), indicated that once the president had not suspended the deputy EC chair based on Article 146 (10) of the 1992 Constitution, it was ‘proper and fair’ for her to resume work.
The lawyers had copied the Chief of Staff, Chief Justice, Attorney General, Senior Minister and Chairman of the Council of State.
According to them, the position of a deputy commissioner of the EC is akin to that of superior court judge; and their interdiction or removal from office should follow the dictates of Article 146 of the Constitution.
They claimed in the case of Ms. Opoku Amakwaah, none of the terms and reference under Article 146 of the Constitution had been evoked to warrant her interdiction; and they saw it as injustice.
The lawyers advised the deputy chairperson to ‘immediately’ resume work and dared anybody to stop her from working.
EOCO has reportedly confirmed receipt of the letter, but said the case was still under investigation and advised the lawyers to let their client stay out of work until the Attorney General advises on the report that EOCO sent to her office.
The EOCO reportedly sent its response on January 8, 2018, saying, “Investigation is said to be complete when advice is received from the Attorney General’s Department.
“Your client and others are not on leave because of the petition before Her Ladyship, the Chief Justice. You will do your client good service if you patiently wait for the advice from the Attorney General’s Office. Let’s follow due process.”
Already, a source has told DAILY GUIDE that the Director of Finance, who was suspended alongside Mrs. Opoku Amankwaa, is also fighting to come back to work, but was facing impediments at the commission.
This was after it had turned out from the corridors of the EOCO that the anti-graft body appeared to have found nothing incriminating against him.
However, Charlotte Osei has allegedly vowed never again to work with Dr Asamoah – who reportedly challenged some of the contracts awarded by her – and therefore the Finance Director’s fate continues to hang in the balance.
In July, a letter from the EOCO, which was signed by ACP K.K. Amoah (rtd.), Acting Executive Director, indicated that it had taken over the case, positing, “The suspects are assisting in investigations.”
In the letter dated July 4, 2017, and addressed to the chairperson of the commission, EOCO said it was investigating “the loss of about GH¢480,000 from the Endowment Fund at the Electoral Commission.
“The office would be grateful if you would direct the officers listed above to proceed on leave whilst investigation proceeds.”
Pursuant to the EOCO letter, Ms Osei wrote to Mrs Opoku-Amankwaah asking her to proceed on leave “immediately” and directed her to “kindly forward any pending issues to the Office of the Chairperson.”