STATEMENT PRESENTED AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ON TUESDAY, 10TH OCTOBER 2017 IN YORKE HALL, COCONUT GROVE REGENCY HOTEL, ACCRA BY THE PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE’S PARTY (PPP) TO ADDRESS THE NEEDLESS DISQUALIFICATION THAT DESTROYED ITS CAMPAIGN AND MARKED A DARK SPOT ON GHANA’S INFANT DEMOCRACY
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen; we had planned this day to discuss the unlawful treatment shamefully meted out last year by the Electoral Commission (EC) to the Progressive People’s Party (PPP).
Regrettably, we are unable to focus too much on that this morning in the wake of the horrible tragedy our brothers and sisters suffered at the Madina Atomic Junction over the Saturday eve last weekend.
This unfortunate mishap made it the third such gas explosion so far this year, and the eighth in the last three years.
We would like to express our utmost sadness for the increase in such avoidable explosions and offer our profound sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives. To the injured, we reach out to them with our prayers and sincere wishes for speedy recovery.
Please let us observe a minute’s silence for the victims of these gas explosions!
Once again we wish to highlight the need to carefully site such stations away from residential properties. We insist on the highest safety standards, including regular training and certification for all staff associated with this industry. We must eliminate likely future explosions and needless loss of precious lives. We also call for clear guidelines from those state agencies charged with the responsibility for bringing order and transparent administration into such a vital but very hazardous industry segment.
Today, we mark one of the darkest days in our journey within a hoped-for democratic dispensation. The purpose of this press conference is not to remind ourselves of the pain, the stress, the disappointment, the collateral reputational damage etc. but to make oath to ourselves and resolve that NEVER AGAIN should we, the people of Ghana, allow a despotic public officer to determine at his or her own behest which bona fide citizens should or should not, within the provisions of the 1992 constitution, participate in our democratic forward march.
EC’s Press Conference
We recall with much pain how exactly one year ago today on October 10, 2016, the Electoral Commission (EC), held a press conference to disqualify on spurious grounds 12 out of the total 17 aspirants who had submitted their nomination forms in good faith to be considered as presidential candidates for the 2016 Elections. Only four presidential aspirants were then deemed as qualified to contest Election 2016, whilst the fifth candidate was granted a few days to sort out his pending court case.
Addressing a press conference, the EC Chair Mrs. Charlotte Osei gleefully and confusingly pointed out that, making a false declaration in a statutory declaration and on forms for office amounted not only to criminal offences but also to perjury. She found it necessary and important to point out that in law a simple tick did not satisfy requirements of the law.
The EC Chair, Mrs. Charlotte Osei further indicated at that press conference that not only would those offences (so-called) be referred to the Ghana Police Service and the Attorney General’s Department for investigations and prosecution; but also that her Commission would go ahead ANYWAY to disqualify the candidates even before her allegations of possible offences could be investigated and prosecuted. She said mockingly that letters had already been sent to all the candidates affected.
We were shocked, traumatized and dumbfounded at this political charade because, glaringly, she had not followed in accordance with the dictates of CI94 the procedures for nomination
As a law abiding party, we sought audience with the EC to give opportunity to resolve any misunderstandings that might have informed their decision to disqualify the PPP Presidential candidate.
Apparently, we were naïve enough to have underestimated the actions of the EC as a mere gloss over of its own administrative procedures. As it turned out, little did we know that the EC Chairperson was involved in an orchestrated, diabolic and hideous scheme carefully crafted to scuttle the efforts of the PPP and its flag bearer.
It is of course now public knowledge that the objective of the EC and the Chairperson, Mrs. Charlotte Osei in particular, was to reduce the 2016 elections into a two-horse race making it easier to allow other illegal measures to be activated to subvert the will of the people in favour of one political party.
When our efforts to have this matter settled amicably failed, we proceeded to the High Court. During the process, we were introduced to another determined action on the part of the Chairperson when she lied under oath that the PPP’s flag bearer had already been given fair hearing.
It took the watchful and eagle eyes of the legal team led by Hon. Ayikoi Otoo to draw the attention of Justice Kyei Baffour to the attempted subversion of justice. The ignominious lie was subsequently deleted from the ECs records.
At the end of this long haul legal battle celebrated in the legal arena as Ex parte Papa Kwesi Nduom, Justice Kyei Baffour delivered a most remarkable human rights judgments that boosted the public’s confidence in the judiciary and restoration of citizens’ rights. It was a huge defeat to abuse of office, the tyranny of Charlotte, a modern day Judas, and hre well-rehearsed plan to rig the 2016 elections in favour of a particular political party.
Effect of the Disqualification
It would be recalled that whilst the Progressive People’s Party was battling its disqualification case at the law courts, the other favoured political parties were busily campaigning and canvassing for votes.
Many of our party members lost respect in their constituencies as a result of the criminal attachment to the case. This also led to emotional exhaustion, low levels of morale creating absenteeism, lack of motivation and interest in the election battle for the peoples’ hearts and minds. Party members were thoroughly demoralized as a result of the EC’s wrongful accusations!.
We cannot forget the amount of money that was spent on legal fees. Moneys that could very usefully have been employed to support some of our targeted constituencies.
The workings of the EC and the scandals
We are saddened to learn about the scandals that have emerged this year at the Electoral Commission over the award of contracts without tender, and the litany of allegations and counter allegations against the EC Chair and some Commissioners. We are happy the Chief Justice has written to Mrs. Osei and her two deputy commissioners (Ms. Georgina Opoku-Amankwa in-charge of Corporate Service) and (Mr. Amadu Sulley in-charge of Operations) to file official responses to the allegations of corruption and abuse of office. Why should the PPP be surprised at such (allegedly) unsavoury goings-on under Mrs Osei’s watch?
As a major stakeholder in Ghana’s electoral system, we believe the Commissioners have tainted the image of the Electoral Commission so badly that, in the interest of mother Ghana, they must be advised to step aside.
We are extremely worried that the inharmonious stay in office of these commissioners is gravely affecting operational activities at the Commission as district electoral officers are on tenterhooks waiting earnestly for resolution so that they their allowances and other outstanding emoluments could be paid.
We know the EC is one of the most sensitive institutions in the country and we cannot, therefore, sit by unconcerned for these allegations to remain unresolved. They have the potential to disturb the peace. We believe the issues raised in the allegations are serious enough to merit a sense of urgency in its investigation.
We urge the Chief Justice to be steadfast in proceeding to determine if there are prima facie merits leading to possible impeachment of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission. If they exist, so be it!
This singular action by the Electoral Commission in 2016 went contrary to all the values Ghana has stood for as a Nation since Independence; Freedom and Justice. It threatened to damage our young democracy and the admiration of the world as beacon of hope in Africa.
When history looks back, we want all Ghanaians to remember that "NEVER AGAIN" must we allow the Electoral Commission to decide for the entire country what to do outside of the rule of law.
We thank the judicial service for expeditiously upholding the law and the very many well-meaning Ghanaians who spoke up against the palpable injustice.
The Progressive People's Party assures the people of Ghana that it will remain resolute in its quest to deepen the democratic credentials of Ghana, and that it will not shy away from any actions that will ensure that success.
Let us watch, pray, and resist oppressors rule in all its forms.
#AWAKE GHANA………LONG LIVE GHANA.