Embattled Electoral Commission (EC) Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, has sued the lawyer who is leading some unnamed staff of the commission to press for impeachment proceedings against her.
A litany of allegations have been leveled against Ms. Osei, including spending GH¢3.9 million to partition an office and receiving a Toyota Land Cruiser from the previous government as well as attending Cabinet meetings under President John Mahama.
However, the EC boss is moving to clear her name and has filed a suit against the lawyer, Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang, for defamation.
She is seeking a declaration that the statements that Plaintiff is “managerially and administratively inept” because Plaintiff has no respect for the organisational structure of the Electoral Commission, “has poor human relations not befitting of any leader in public space,” has “unilaterally transferred District Electoral Officers perceived to be pro-NPP,” “…polarized the Commission along political lines” and disunited its members at paragraphs 11, 12, 13, 20, 21 and 26 of the petition attached to Defendant’s letter conveying the petition to his Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana are defamatory of Plaintiff.”
She wants another declaration that “the statements that Plaintiff has constituted herself into the Commission’s Tender Review Committee contrary to the Procurement Act,” “unilaterally awarded a contract of about $25,000 to a South African company…to change and re-develop the Commission’s logo under the guise of rebranding…” set out at paragraphs 6, 18, 23, 27 of the petition attached to Defendant’s letter conveying the petition to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana are defamatory of Plaintiff.”
It stated, “A declaration that the statements that Plaintiff nearly pushed Ghana “to the precipices” by her “political posture” prior to the conduct of the 2016 general elections, has a political bias and prejudice against Ghanaians who support the New Patriotic Party (NPP) by antagonizing the “NPP prior to the 2016 general elections brought embarrassment to the Commission” through her arrogant posture set out at paragraphs 3, 4, 14, 19 of the petition attached to Defendant’s letter conveying the petition to his Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana are defamatory of Plaintiff.
The EC boss wants a further declaration that the statements that Plaintiff “has been engaging in cronyism by awarding contracts to the tune of $14,310,961.00 to her cronies” the value of which contract sums exceed the approved threshold of the PPA, the details of which statements are set out at paragraph 8 of the petition attached to Defendant’s letter conveying the contents of the petition to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana are defamatory of Plaintiff.
Madam Charlotte Osei also wants general damages for libel against the lawyer “for publishing and or causing to be published the aforesaid words of and concurring in Plaintiff,” as well as an order “directed at the Defendant to publish a retraction and an apology with the same prominence as the defamatory words on his Facebook page as well as one publication in the Daily Graphic.”
She also filed for an injunction restraining the defendant from publishing defamatory statements against the Plaintiff as well as costs, including lawyer’s fees.
Statement Of Claim
According to the Plaintiff, a statement by the Defendant that she is managerially and administratively inept “has greatly injured Plaintiff’s reputation and credibility as an expert in business management, compliance and regulation, corporate/business law, banking as well as labour with significant experience.”
She averred that for the defendant to state that she had constituted herself into the EC’s Tender Review Committee and singularly chairs the Entity Tender Committee, was understood to mean that “the plaintiff is dishonest and fraudulent, self-centered, does not have the interest of the nation at heart and generally engaged in criminal activity such as corruption and is debased and perverted in character.”
Duty To The State
Mrs Osei further said that by stating and publishing of and concerning her that she engages in cronyism by awarding contracts to her cronies, the Defendant meant that “Plaintiff is corrupt and allows her interest to compromise her duty to the state.”
She said the Defendant’s statement that she had adopted a political posture meant that Plaintiff “has questionable credentials as an independent arbiter in important matters such as public elections in the Republic of Ghana.”
According to her, she would rely on the facts that the Defendant “published the words complained of without any facts justifying the allegations of fraud, corruption and dishonesty against Plaintiff,” adding “the allegations of fraud, corruption and dishonesty imputed to Plaintiff in the offending publications are entirely false and baseless.
“Blatantly false statements in his petition, an example being that set out at paragraph 17 thereof that Plaintiff refused to grant evidence to the members of the National Peace Council and the leader of the African Union delegation; Thabo Mbeki,” adding, “representing faceless clients, allegedly workers of the Electoral Commission and with whom if Defendant had had proper conference as required of a lawyer, the falsehoods set out in the petition would have been obvious.
“The allegations relating to Plaintiff’s political posture, relationship with other officials of the Commission, failure to visit district offices, frequent travels, are baseless and cannot be a bona fide ground upon which a lawyer would advise his client(s) to trigger Article 146 proceedings under the 1992 Constitution against Plaintiff.”
She said the “Defendant’s personal involvement in radio and television discussions about the petition and Facebook posts on the subject,” will be used in court, adding, “circulating and or causing same to be circulated even before the petition got to the attention of the Presidency.”
“Plaintiff avers that the said defamatory words were published and circulated with the sole intent of reducing her in the estimation of all right-thinking Ghanaians and that Plaintiff has received numerous calls from her friends, family, international business colleagues and associates, lawyers – all expressing concern about the publications complained about in this suit.”
The Plaintiff says “the false and malicious publications by Defendant has injured the image of Plaintiff and brought her hard-won reputation into hatred, ridicule, odium, discredit, contempt, opprobrium and reproach.”
It is unclear if the lawyer – Maxwell Opoku-Agyemang – has been served with the court document which was filed yesterday.
By William Yaw Owusu