[dropcap]I[/dropcap]nformation available to Daily Guide indicates that the Electoral Commission (EC) paid huge sums of money to telecommunication service providers for the transmission of the 2016 election results.
The commission is said to have spent a whopping GH¢11,952,894.50 on the Election Results Management System (ERMS) alone.
An EC Audit Observation Memorandum indicated that four major mobile telephony service providers pocketed a total of GH¢6,591,402.53 for just faxing the results from the 10 regional offices under the virtual private network platform.
Under the ERMS, networks like Airtel, Vodafon, MTN and Tigo took away GH¢2,534,877.54, GH¢1,104,245.61, GH¢202,282.64 and GH¢2,749,996.74 respectively for faxing the results.
The EC had reportedly wanted to carry out electronic transmission of the results from all the 29,000 polling stations akin to the process in Kenya at an estimated cost of between $32 million and $35 million, despite vehement protests by the opposition parties at the time.
The EC only jettisoned the project when it realized that its electronic transmission system had allegedly been compromised and had to resort to the traditional transmission, which is faxing.
The then opposition parties, particularly the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – which eventually won the elections – had warned that the electronic transmission of the results was susceptible to manipulation (similar to what is currently transpiring in Kenya where that country’s Supreme Court has declared the presidential results null and void after the opposition had been able to prove that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) recorded some irregularities.
Apart from the telcos, other private firms such as Perfect Business Systems, which is currently under investigations over its alleged role in the troubled biometric project dubbed, ‘Operation Business Suite’ (OBS) at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), benefited from the ERMS project.
Perfect Business Systems had three contracts to supply laptops, computers and monitors and laptop bags at a total cost of GH¢ 4,107,717.95, which are broken down to GH¢1,094,500.00, GH¢2,704,500.00 and GH¢308,717.95 respectively.
Other companies that were given ERMS contracts were Brown Kasaro, which had a total of GH¢242,646.45 for customization of ERMS while Dunia Ramazani received GH¢82,797.13 and GH¢70,465.34 respectively for consultancy fees for ERMS.
IT Markets Limited received four different payments of GH¢88,390.10, GH¢234,305.00, GH¢188,670.00 and GH¢346,500.00 for the supply of ERMS software, Network Switches and Cables for ERMS, hardware for ERMS and HDMI Video Switches.
Currently, the EC Chairperson, Charlotte Osei and her two deputies – Amadu Sulley in-charge of Operations and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, in-charge of Corporate Services – are facing impeachment proceedings over alleged corruption and abuse of office, following petitions and a counter petition against them.
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 erstwhile Mahama’s 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.
Mrs. Osei is facing two petitions first filed by unnamed staff of the commission, who are being led by Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang and later another petition from a lawyer called Douglas Seidu.
In the initial petition, Mrs. Charlotte Osei had been accused by the unnamed staff of “engaging in cronyism by awarding contracts to the tune of 14,310,961 United States Dollars to her cronies for the construction of Pre-fabricated District offices without recourse to the Commission.”
The second was filed by Mr 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.
The deadline (September 5, 2017) given by the Chief Justice to the EC officials to file their respective official responses regarding the allegations of corruption and abuse of office has elapsed and it is unclear if the defendants were able to do so.
Mrs Charlotte Osei, through her lawyers – [email protected] – 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.
She has also sued Lawyer Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang for defamation.