GHS480k saga: Dep. C’ssioner fights back
Lawyers of Ms Georgina Opoku Amankwah, a Deputy Commissioner of the Electoral Commission (EC), have written to the Chair of the Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei, saying their client will not comply with a directive to “proceed on leave” based on the suggestions of the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) because it was an “unconstitutional” order.
Ms Opoku Amankwah is one of three top EC officials being investigated by EOCO over the alleged disappearance of GHS480,000 belonging to the Commission’s Endowment Fund.
The other two officials are Finance Director Dr Joseph Kwaku Asamoah and Chief Accountant Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi.
A letter from Ms Opoku Amankwah’s lawyers, Asante-Krobea Sekyere & Associates, sighted by ClassFMonline.com, described the EC Chair’s directive to their client to proceed on leave as unconstitutional.
The letter dated 8 July and signed by Kwame Owusu Sekyere, a lawyer, reads: “Your letter dated 5 July 2017 and the attached letter from EOCO dated 4 July 2017 has been referred to us by our client Ms Georgina Opoku Amankwah to respond to same. Our client was appointed as a Deputy Commissioner of the EC which is an independent institution in accordance with Article 44 (3) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. For your information, Article 146 of the Constitution sets up processes and procedure for dealing with allegations against persons of the status of our client. From our reckoning, your letter does not comply with the said processes and procedure, for that runs counter to the processes and procedure laid down in the Constitution. Our client has been advised not to comply with your directive as same is unconstitutional. Please be advised accordingly.”
Meanwhile, the Finance Director, Dr Asamoah, according to information gotten by ClassFMonline.com, has also received death threats from one Bashiru via his mobile phone.
Bashiru warned Dr Asamoah to stop helping other commissioners of the EC to frustrate the Chair of the election management body or he would have himself to blame.
ClassFMonline.com learnt that that Dr Asamoah received the threat on his mobile phone on Sunday, 9 July, 2017 while on his way from work. He immediately reported the case to the Cantonment police station for protection.
A police response sighted by ClassFMonline.com dated 9 July 2017, reads: “Dr Joseph Kweku Asamoah, Director of Finance, Electoral Commission of Ghana, on cell phone number 02******** came to the charge office and reported that today at about 3:38pm, while on his way from work, on reaching a portion of the road at Spintex, he received a text message from one Bashiru via MTN number 0241185406 stating: ‘I hope you are Dr Asamoah of EC. We will kill you if you continue to help EC Commissioner to frustrate Madam Charlotte Osei. You think you are difficult and strict. By the time we finish with you and your family, you will see a nonsense of yourself. We are monitoring you and soon you shall see. Bashiru and Boys’, as such wanted police assistance.”
ClassFMonline.com learnt from reliable sources that an extract of the incident was prepared by the Cantonment police station and handed over to Dr Asamoah to be sent to Baatsona police station for further assistance.
It is recalled that Dr Asamoah had stated that he would not proceed on leave following a directive from EC Chair to do upon the suggestion of EOCO as the missing GHS480,000 case is being investigated.
The money was allegedly withdrawn from the Endowment Fund of the EC between 2012 and 2013 by the three officials during the tenure of retired EC Chair Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan and used for official business pertaining to the commission.
Investigations by Class News suggest they were expected to have reimbursed the Fund before Dr Afari Gyan’s exit from office but did not do so until Mrs Osei took office upon her predecessor’s retirement.
Acting Executive Director of EOCO, ACP K. K Amoah (Rtd), in a letter written to the EC Chair dated 4 July, 2017, said: “This office would be grateful if you could direct the officers listed above to proceed on leave while investigations proceed.”
In compliance with EOCO’s request, Mrs Osei wrote to the three officers saying: “As you are aware, the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) is investigating the loss of about GHS480,000 from the staff Endowment Fund. Pursuant to this investigation, EOCO has requested that I direct you to proceed on leave while the investigation proceeds. This is to ensure the integrity of the investigation. During the period of your leave, please be advised that you are not to undertake any business on behalf of the commission or access any information from the commission until the investigations are concluded. By this letter, may I ask you to proceed on leave immediately.”
But the Director of Finance in a response letter said: “I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 5 July directing me to proceed on leave pending the EOCO investigation into an alleged loss of about GHS480,000 from the staff Endowment Fund. As you are aware, I wish to state on record again that I was neither at post as Director of Finance nor was I in any position to influence management’s decision regarding financial administration of the Endowment Fund during the period of the alleged loss. I am, therefore, in no position to influence the integrity of the investigation as stated in your letter while at post since I have no involvement in the alleged loss. Madam, assuming without admitting that officers who inherit problems they have no knowledge of from their predecessor are made to proceed on leave, then on the principle of fairness, all management staff in the same position must equally proceed on leave. I wish to courteously submit that subsequent to my assumption of duty as Director of Finance, there has not been any incident of the same or similar nature.”
In response to Dr Asamoah’s letter, the EC Chair warned him via another letter to comply with the directive to proceed on leave in order to avoid sanctions.
In a letter dated 7 July 2017 addressed to Dr Asamoah signed by the EC Chair and sighted by ClassFMonline.com, Mrs Osei asked Dr Asamoah to “kindly note that the letter directing you to proceed on leave was as a result of the directive received from the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) dated July 4, 2017”.
She said in complying with the directive, “I was mindful of the provisions of the EOCO Act, 2010 (Act 804)” which state:
1. The office may conduct investigations in conjunction with security agencies and other persons
2. An officer of a public agency shall cooperate with officers of the office in the performance of functions under this Act
3. A public officer who refuses or fails without reasonable cause to cooperate with an authorised officer of the office commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 50 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than three months or both.”
She, therefore, admonished Dr Asamoah to be guided accordingly.