Details are emerging that the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei, demanded GH¢1 million to renovate a bungalow before she could occupy it as her official residence.
Sources say the building, located behind the El Wak Stadium, closer to the Cantonments Post Office and the Lands Commission in Accra, does not appear to be dilapidated but the current EC boss allegedly wants the taxpayer to spend a whopping GH¢1 million for its renovation alone.
The architectural designs are showing that the building, which was used by former EC Chairman, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, might have to be pulled down and reconstructed to meet the taste of the new chairperson.
The unnamed staff of the commission who want Ms. Osei impeached, have claimed that the chairperson brought a bill of over GH¢1 million as the cost for the renovation.
“The chairperson has submitted an estimate of over GH¢1 million for the renovation of the official bungalow without recourse to the commission or appropriate staff in the commission,” they said in the petition to President Akufo-Addo, which has since been forwarded to the Chief Justice (CJ) for the necessary action.
Currently, Mrs. Osei is said to be occupying the bungalow reserved for the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) – where she previously worked as head – and does not appear to be moving out anytime soon, if the renovation at the EC facility is not done.
Already, the Deputy Chairperson in-charge of Corporate Service, Georgina Opoku-Amankwaa, whom Ms. Osei has accused together with Amadu Sulley – the Deputy in-charge of Operations – of sabotage, has claimed in her defence that her boss said the building was not fit for her status.
“She chose to live in the accommodation provided by the NCCE claiming that the official residence her predecessor used is not fit for her status,” Ms Opoku-Amankwaa said in her response.
“It was recently that she requested for a total refurbishment of the official bungalow. I was later informed by my director of finance that she submitted a bill and architectural drawings which indicated demolition and rebuilding the entire structure,” the Deputy Chairperson added.
The EC chairperson has always maintained that she was never given an office to operate from as the head of the commission, but her claim has been rebutted by Mrs Opoku-Amankwaa.
“The claim by the chairperson that she was never given an office is false. An allegation like this gives the impression that the commission was created after the chairperson was appointed. Since 1992, the commission had been chaired by Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan for over two decades,” the deputy said.
“Mrs. Charlotte Osei was appointed after a successful retirement of the then chairman. Upon assumption of office, she was given the office of her predecessor. This office is situated in the same premises of the two deputies. Strangely, she refused to take up the office, claiming that she had a security audit conducted by a security detail from the Office of the President and indicated that the office was not fit and safe for her occupation,” the Deputy Commissioner averred.
Human Resource Directorate
She continued, “Rather, she disorganized the whole Human Resource Directorate by choosing the directorate’s office as a place of her preference. Since this office is just next to her former office as NCCE chair, she found it convenient for use. She accordingly instructed the then Director of Human Resource who was occupying that office, to vacate the office for her use.”
She claimed that the chairperson, after taking over the HR Department, allegedly “contracted her own artisans to do a complete makeover fitting with shower cubicle fittings and furniture in the office. A bill covering the works done was submitted for reimbursement but was subsequently withdrawn after it was vehemently opposed for non-compliance of the procurement process.”
She continued, “I wish to state emphatically and unequivocally that I was not privy to any of these arrangements, although this lies within my realm of responsibility. She (chairperson) preferred to deal with the directors.”
Mrs. Osei has parried the allegations and said in her preliminary statement that “The estimate for renovation of a house indicates the level of work required to be done in the house.
“It is not a contract and there is no breach of the law occasioned by submitting an estimate. It is in fact, the Deputy Chair, Operations (Amadu Sulley), that is in breach of the process reflected in his actions in 2015 when without recourse to the chairperson, the Deputy Chair (Operations) verbally authorized a director to undertake repairs to the chairman’s official residence for the use of the said director.
“Upon submission of the estimate of works done, it would have been expected that the Deputy Chair CS, (Mrs. Opoku-Amankwaa), who oversees administration, would have started a proper procurement process for the renovation of the chairperson’s residence,” she explained. She added, “To date, no work has been initiated and the chairperson is still unable to move into the official residence, two years after appointment.
“In the same vein, the chairperson was never provided with an office three months after joining the commission. She had to initiate the moves herself to get suitable office premises and furnish it personally.
Last week, the Chief Justice reportedly wrote officially to the embattled EC chairperson to respond to the allegations that could lead to her impeachment.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that the letter from the Office of the Chief Justice was delivered on Friday, August 4, and the two other commissioners – Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa – have equally been written to, to react to the petitions against them, seeking their removal from office as well.
However, before the formal preliminary investigation commences, a private citizen, Ayamga Yakubu Akoglo, has filed a writ at the Supreme Court, seeking to prevent the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, from going ahead to investigate the EC boss.
The plaintiff wants the suit, which also cites the Attorney General, to declare the action being initiated against the EC boss by the Judicial Council as unconstitutional, void and of no effect.
He is claiming that the issues raised in the petition against Mrs Charlotte Osei had nothing to do with her core functions as prescribed under Article 45 of the 1992 Constitution and as a result, did not warrant her removal per Article 46 (1) of the Constitution, describing the petition as ‘defective.’
Legal experts say that if a prima facie case is established against any of the commissioners during the preliminary investigation, the Chief Justice, per the rules, will then set up a committee to fully investigate the issues and a report submitted to the president.
A litany of allegations have been leveled against Mrs. Osei, including spending GH¢3.9 million to partition an office, receipt of a Toyota Land Cruiser from the previous government, spending about $14 million when the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) had authorized her to use only $7.5 million, as well as attending Cabinet meetings under President John Mahama’s administration, among other things.
The said $14 million contract was allegedly awarded to her crony without the PPA’s approval.