Charlotte Osei – Chairperson of EC
More revelations are emerging about the alleged rot at the Electoral Commission (EC) as the Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, is said to have single-handedly awarded contracts running into millions of Ghana cedis without tenders.
According to the petitioners, who are calling for her removal from office, she awarded contracts to private firms without going through tendering.
The petitioners are claiming that the chairperson had awarded contracts to the tune of GH¢1,823,625 to two private companies contrary to the Public Procurement Act.
IT Market Limited and Ideyas Design Agency were the companies that were given GH¢1,803,825 and GH¢19,800 worth of contracts respectively for the supply of equipment for the Election Results Management System (ERMS), as well as the production of Revision Educational Posters during the preparation for Election 2016.
Documents available to DAILY GUIDE show that IT Market Limited was given six different contracts under the ERMS project and in each case, the EC boss reportedly sent copies of the notification of the contracts to the Chief Accountant, Internal Auditor, Senior Supply Office, Procurement File and the Director of Finance, although the petitioners are insisting that she did not seek approval from the Public Procurement Authority.
The petitioners assert that the Procurement Act requires that contracts that exceed GH¢10,000 are mandated to go through competitive tendering.
In the first contract, IT Market Limited was asked to supply supplementary hardware for ERMS at the cost of GH¢272,000 and was to provide performance guarantee of 5% of the contract sum as security, in case of default of the execution of the contract.
The contract was signed on November 7, 2016.
The private company was also given a contract for the supply of network switches and cables for ERMS project at a total cost of GH¢234,305 and another contract worth GH¢240,850 for the same network switches and cables for the ERMS project – both signed on November 18, 2016.
The contract for the supply of Webcams for the ERMS was also given to IT Market Limited at the cost of GH¢522,500 on 18th November, and on 22nd November, the company was asked to supply HDMI Video Switches for the ERMS project at the cost of GH¢346,500, as well as another contract for the supply of Supplementary Hardware for GH¢188,670 in respect of the ERMS, signed on November 7, 2016.
In the case of Ideyas Design Agency, the EC contracted it to produce educational posters in the category of General, Disabled and Gender at the total cost of GH¢19,800.
Even where contracts were referred to the Public Procurement Authority, the (contract) sums were varied by the EC boss without recourse to the PPA.
Some of the contracts awarded to private companies for the construction of pre-fabricated (PreFAB) offices in some districts throughout the country have come under scrutiny.
The petitioners claimed that the EC boss awarded contracts worth over $14 million without recourse to the commission. The PPA had approved only half of it.
The petitioners accused Charlotte Osei of “engaging in cronyism by awarding contracts to the tune of $14,310,961 to her cronies for the construction of Pre-fabricated District offices without recourse to the commission.”
Already, the Chief Justice has written to Mrs. Osei and her two deputy commissioners – Georgina Opoku-Amankwa in-charge of Corporate Service and Amadu Sulley in-charge of Operations – who are also facing impeachment proceedings until September 5 to file their official responses to the allegations of corruption and abuse of office.
There are currently two petitions brought against the embattled EC boss and a counter petition against the two deputies.
The first petition was filed by unnamed EC staff, who are being led by Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, against Mrs. Osei, who has since sued the lawyer for defamation.
A litany of allegations have been leveled against her, including spending GH¢3.9 million to partition an office, receipt of a Toyota Land Cruiser from the erstwhile Mahama-led NDC 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 during the tenure of President John Dramani Mahama, among other issues.
The second was filed by a lawyer called Douglass Seidu, who is claiming that Mrs Osei was in breach of public procurement practices and provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 663), as well as gross financial mismanagement.
He accused the EC boss of awarding contracts amounting to GH¢249,081,895.03 and $71,406,388.80 respectively without following the required procurement processes and laws.
Mrs Charlotte Osei, through her lawyers – Sory@Law – who are also the commission’s external solicitors, hit back at her accusers, insisting that she had not been corrupt or abused her office and rather accused her two deputies of deliberately scheming to frustrate her stay in office.
The chairperson, in her initial response, openly accused Ms. Opoku-Amankwaa of signing contracts worth over $40 million without her knowledge and authorization between May and September 2015.
By William Yaw Owusu