Mr. William Nyarko, Executive Director of research and education think tank, the Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) says calls for the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission and her two deputy commissioners to step aside while investigations continue following the finding of a prima facie case against the three are premature.
He explained on JOY FM’s News Night program on Tuesday that while it is standard practice for persons under investigation to step aside to
Citing Article 146 (10)(b) of the Constitution, Mr. Nyarko said the president may suspend the three persons on the advice of the Judicial Council, adding until that advice has been given to the president by the Judicial Council the calls for the three to step aside are premature.
Article 146 (10) states “ Where a petition has been referred to a committee under this article, the President may – (b) in the case of any other Justice of a Superior court or of a Chairman of a Regional Tribunal, acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Council, suspend that Justice or that Chairman of a Regional Tribunal.”
The positions of EC Chairman and the two deputy commissioners are analogous to a Superior Court Justice and the procedure for removing them from office are provided for under Article 146, which require filing a petition to the president, the president forwarding the petition to the Chief Justice to make a prima facie determination and establish a 5-member committee to investigate them.
The Chief Justice Mrs. Sophia Akuffo established a prima facie case against the EC Boss, Mrs. Charlotte Osei and the two deputy commissioners, Mr. Sulley Amadu and Mrs. Georgina Opoku Amankwaa after the president had forwarded petitions filed against the three to the Chief Justice.
Earlier this month, the Chief Justice established a 5-member committee to establish the veracity of the allegations contained in the petitions. Since then, there have been calls by the Progressive People’s Party and several others for the three to step aside.
Continuing, Mr. Nyarko explained that in the case of the former commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Ms. Lauretta V. Lamptey who was also investigated and removed from office under Article 146, the Judicial Council advised president Mahama to suspend her after the Chief Justice had established a prima facie case against her.
Speaking on the same matter, a private legal practitioner Samson Lardy Anyenini who led the removal of the Commissioner at CHRAJ said they requested for Lauretta Lamptey to step aside until after the prima facie investigation.
He told Joy News it was necessary to have the commissioner to be step aside because they had witness from CHRAJ who were uncomfortable appearing before a Committee to testify against their boss.
He said they also needed documents for evidence which they would ordinarily be unable to access if Lauretta Lamptey were still at post.