The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said it is prepared to support calls by the Electoral Commission for the Ghana Police Service to probe claims that the EC printed extra one million ballot papers, some of which were allegedly thumb-printed and stuffed in favour of the governing New Patriotic Party during the 2020 polls.
“We take note with satisfaction of Bossman Asare’s call on Ghana’s Police Service to investigate the facts put out by President Mahama. Given that President Mahama was on solid grounds when making these statements, the NDC stands ever prepared to assist in any credible investigation into the matters raised,” General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Aseidu Nketia said at a press conference in Accra on Thursday, 28 October 2021.
The NDC said the party is, however, aware that the EC’s call for a police probe “is only a red herring” because the electoral management body cannot feign ignorance of the fact that the police service is already seized with evidence in this matter.
Mr Nketia noted that on the specific printing of one million excess ballot papers, some people were arrested by the police in possession of some of the already-thumb-printed excess ballots and, therefore, the law enforcement body should be providing an update on the status of the investigation.
“All that Bossman Asare needs to do is to call on the Attorney General to ask the police to investigate the matter,” he said.
On the death of some Ghanaians during the election, Mr Nketia said “it beggars belief that Bossman Asare would now join the call for investigations into the killing of eight Ghanaians 10 whole months after the police service had assured Ghanaians it was looking into the killings.”
In Mr Nketia’s opinion, “there is no real interest on the part of the police and the government to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crimes to justice because the killings served the ends of the Akufo-Addo-Bawumia and NPP Government in so far as it ensures their retention in power.”
He, thus, called on the new IGP, Dr George Akuffo Dampare, to show the same commitment “he has so far shown in bringing errant members of the society to book over misdemeanours, to the more serious crimes of extrajudicial killings.”
He reiterated the NDC’s assertion that the 2020 elections were the worst in Ghana’s history.
Mr Nketia stated that the EC “must accept this truth and work toward improving its image and regain the confidence of Ghanaians and all stakeholders.”
“They must shed the current garb of arrogance, intolerance, lack of consensus, outright obstinacy and obduracy and open display of hostility toward a key stakeholder like the NDC,” he added.
He advised the EC to immediately revert to the previous posture of accommodation, tolerance, consensus-building, respect for stakeholders and political transparency exhibited by their forebears.
He said the NDC remains prepared to engage the EC and all other relevant stakeholders in constructive dialogue with the view to introducing the much-needed reforms to improve upon the country’s electoral architecture.
Read the NDC full press statement below:
PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY GENERAL SECRETARY IN RESPONSE TO THE STATEMENTS MADE BY BOSSMAN ASARE, A DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION. NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS HEADQUARTERS, 28TH OCTOBER, 2021.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, on Monday 25th October 2021. Dr Eric Bossman Asare, a Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission, in charge of Corporate Services addressed a Press Conference in which He engaged in the Commission’s usual self-aggrandising exercise of praise-singing to the effect that the 2020 elections were the best so far in the history of Ghana. He also peddled a lot of falsehoods and propaganda and subsequently attacked the integrity of President John Mahama and the National Democratic Congress. We see this as part of an attempt to divert attention from Nana Akuffo Addo’s gaffe on the issue of the Cape Coast airport and his subsequent disrespect toward the paramount chief of the Aflao traditional area and the resulting fallout and public disapproval and opprobrium.
It is therefore important that we respond to the vituperations of Bossman Asare
Before we respond to the substantive issues raised by Bossman Asare in his seemingly hastily arranged press conference, we wish to make a few observations.
The National Democratic Congress as a Party is deeply concerned about the conduct and posturing of the Electoral Commission as an institution of state, whose actions are subject to the Constitution and for that matter have subscribed to their oaths of office to act in the best interest of the people of Ghana. These officers are also paid by the taxpayer and the activities of the Commission itself are financed by the same.
Our worry is premised on the arrogant, disrespectful and unprofessional manner in which officers of the Electoral Commission including the highest echelons have been addressing the people of Ghana in recent times. In this instant case, the posturing, choice of words, demeanour and temperament of Bossman Asare are, to say the least, unacceptable. For a man who has been privileged to occupy such an elevated office, one would have thought he would exude the sober aura of a thoughtful and reflective academic who has been given the opportunity to occupy such a high office, even if under controversial circumstances.
Unfortunately, that is not what we have foreseen on and that is not what we have been seeing with the EC in recent times. What we witnessed on Monday smacks of a typical NPP party foot soldier who was given a statement from the Party Headquarters or Jubilee House to read to the press.
The Electoral Commission of Ghana is the embodiment of Ghana’s multiparty democracy. It used to be a well-respected institution globally. That respect was rooted in the tradition of respect for stakeholders of the commission and the exemplary work it has conducted over the years prior to the advent of the current crop of its leadership.
It is obvious that the current leadership of the Commission is incapable of living up to the weight and expectation of the office they occupy and have allowed partisanship and emotional attachment to the appointing authority to get the better of them.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Electoral Commission maintains an obvious state of delusional stupor that the 2020 elections were above reproach and continues to shower praises on themselves and attack anyone who shares divergent views on the elections.
We wish to make it clear to Bossman Asare and Jean Mensah that the NDC being a major stakeholder in the democracy and governance of Ghana reserves the right to comment on the conduct and outcome of elections without being treated with contempt and disrespect.
We, therefore, expect officers of the Commission to live up to expectation by eschewing acts that bring the name of the Commission into disrepute.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we wish to set the record straight on the attempt by the Electoral Commission to engage in their usual falsehood and propaganda in the attempt to save their blushes and that of their puppet masters in the NPP.
We also take note with amusement Bossman Asare’s claim that the Electoral Commission is accountable to the people only through Parliament. It is quite clear that the leadership of the EC is uncertain about their mandate and accountability obligations to the people of Ghana.
In one breath, the EC says it does not account to any individuals and Presidential Candidates but accounts only to Parliament, yet in another breadth, Bossman Asare claims that he was speaking as part of a so-called programme dubbed ‘let the citizens know’ which essentially meant he was attempting to account to the people of Ghana.
The lack of gravitas, finesse and appropriate temperament and composure exhibited by Bossman Asare and previously by his boss Jean Mensah is a far cry from the authority, dignity, composure and comportment with which their forebears like Messrs. Afari Gyan, David Denzi Akanga, Sarfo Kantanka and Charlotte Osei brought to that high office
Now to some specific issues raised in that Press Conference.
It is scandalous for the Electoral Commission to state that it compiled a New Voter Register and conducted elections within 6 months. This was in complete disregard for Article 2 Clause 1 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (A/SP1/12/01) which states that no substantial modification shall be made to the electoral laws of a Member Country in the last six (6) months before an election. Indeed, the Electoral Commission’s attention was drawn to this by the NDC and Civil Society Organisations but the EC blatantly disregarded the same and went ahead to engage in a reckless and wasteful exercise of compiling a new register in the face of the deadly COVID 19 pandemic. This is nothing to be proud of as it brings Ghana’s name into disrepute in the comity of nations.
We have stated before and wish to reiterate that the compilation of the New Voters Register was at the behest of President Akuffo Addo and his NPP who had waged a baseless and unfounded campaign against the previous Voters Register which incidentally formed the basis of their being elected in 2016. We recall the firm assurances from the EC that they were not going to use the Ghana card, and that at most, they will replace the old Voters IDs and give the opportunity for new voters to register. For the first time in the history of the voter registration exercise, two young men Silas and Lambert were murdered in cold blood (stabbed to death -VIDEO/PHOTO OF SILAS) and several others maimed a current Cabinet Minister of the NPP Government Madam Hawa Koomson together with her thugs went on the rampage firing guns indiscriminately, several other innocent citizens were injured, beaten, molested, and harassed (VIDEO/PHOTOS).
Contrary to claims that the new voter’s register was flawless, Ghanaians would recall that the exhibition of the voter’s register was characterized by chaos. The register was full of errors such as missing names and photographs, typographical errors among others that compelled our flagbearer to end his campaign abruptly and return to Accra to bring pressure to bear on the EC to correct such anomalies.
Cost of Elections
Another bizarre claim at the Bossman Asare Press encounter was that the 2020 election was the most cost-effective and that they saved the taxpayer 90 million US Dollars. To begin with, we maintain that this is the most expensive election in the annals of Ghanaian political history. The procurement processes leading to the wasteful registration exercise and the elections were fraught with irregularities and obvious cases of cost inflation. The NDC has not been alone in this position. Some of Ghana’s most respected and credible civil society organizations have been at the forefront of the exposure of corrupt and bloated expenditure in the procurement processes mentioned above.
For instance, in a detailed and widely circulated report issued by IMANI Africa, it estimated that up to 150 million US Dollars was lost to the Ghanaian Taxpayer as a result of the EC’s actions (Source:https://imaniafrica.org/2020/02/24/imani-the-dangerous-games-of-the-electoral-commission/ ). They subsequently described the entire procurement process as opaque and non-transparent.
The EC kept touting as an achievement its ability to save cost in the 2020 elections. We wish to remind them that even though the cost of the election is important, what is more important is an honest, credible, non-partisan Electoral Commission that conducts credible elections to safeguard Ghana’s democracy. The budget of the EC was approved by Parliament. Parliament knows what has been approved and for what purpose and therefore we leave the determination of how cost-effective the 2020 elections has been to Parliament. In any case, if the EC is trumpeting on the rooftops that it has saved money from the elections why has the Commission not paid temporary staff recruited from both District Level Elections held in 2019 and the 2020 elections?
Suffice it to say that since the EC has continually peddled falsehood, we in the NDC take whatever they say with a pinch of salt.
As we speak, the NDC continues to receive credible reports of nonpayment of some of the officials recruited during the 2019 District Elections, the 2020 Registration Exercise, the 2020 Exhibition of Voters Register, and the 2020 General Elections who have also not been paid.
Claims that President Mahama maligned the EC
An interesting feature of the EC’s press conference was the claim that by raising these issues President Mahama was maligning Jean Mensah and other members of the commission.
Instead of looking for nonexistent evidence of being maligned, Jean Mensah, Bossman Asare and their colleagues should carry out self-introspection and an honest assessment of their stewardship and they will find that it is their own actions and inaction that have led to the precipitous loss of confidence in their stewardship by the Ghanaian electorate as found in a national security strategy document.
The excessive Partisanship, open hostility toward the NDC and the brazen manipulation of the electoral process are the occurrences that have led to the loss of credibility of the EC and not the evidence-based presentation made by President Mahama.
We have not forgotten the politically motivated removal of their immediate predecessors and the controversies it generated. Everything they have done so far confirms the fears of observers that they were brought in to ensure the re-election of Nana Addo.
Discovery and Destruction of over 1 million ballot papers for Ashanti Region
Whereas Bossman Asare purported to be responding to President Mahama’s valid criticisms of the EC’s mishandling of the 2020 elections, it was obvious that he had not paid attention to what the former President had said.
He claimed that President Mahama said that the EC thumb printed 1 million ballot papers for the NPP. President Mahama never made such claims. What he said was that the NDC discovered an excess of 1 million ballot papers printed on the blind side of its agents and that in the days leading up to the elections, some individuals were arrested in possession of the thumb printed genuine ballot papers which bore the EC’s validating stamp.
The general public would recall that prior to the printing of ballots, the NDC raised an alarm that the Electoral Commission failed to give political parties ballot statistics. The ballot statistics are the details of ballots to be printed by various security printing houses. The provision of ballot statistics to the political party agents at the printing press is another transparency measure that enables party agents to ensure that printing houses do not print ballots in excess of what is required for a given election. The refusal of the EC to supply parties with the statistics timeously gave way for the printing of excess ballots that were widely distributed across the country particularly in the Ashanti Region to compromise to rig the elections. Ghanaians are witnesses to viral videos of persons who were arrested by the police with thumb-printed ballot papers that had the official seal of the Electoral Commission. With this development, the Electoral Commission clearly has questions to answer as to how its official stamps found their way into the hands of unauthorized persons who used the same to perpetrate electoral fraud.
Again, Ghanaians would recall that the NDC caused to be burnt over 1 million ballot papers designated for Ashanti Region which were concealed at Innolink Printing Press. The facts are as follow: [VIDEOS/ PHOTOS]
1. On 20th November 2020 the waste materials for INNOLINK PRINTING PRESS were destroyed under the supervision of the EC and security agencies in the presence of party agents who duly signed the Certificate of Disposal.
2. Subsequently, the plates were also destroyed on 25th November 2020 and representatives of the EC, INNOLINK, political parties and the security agencies duly signed the Certificate of Disposal and were given copies.
3. It stands to reason that by that date; all waste materials had been destroyed.
4. However, when the printed ballots at INNOLINK were transported to Ashanti Region on 22nd November 2020, it was discovered that there was a problem with the ballots of AFIGYA KWABRE SOUTH CONSTITUENCY and therefore the ballot booklets were returned for reprinting.
5. Upon their return to INNOLINK PRINTING PRESS on 25th November, our agents went there to supervise the re-printing of the ballot papers of the said constituency, discovered, to their dismay, boxes of ballot papers concealed in one of the offices. When they caused the boxes to be opened, they were found to contain excess presidential ballot papers for Ashanti Region. Alarmed by what they saw, they filmed the ballots and enquired from the supervisors what those ballots were meant for.
6. When confronted, the supervisors at INNOLINK gave all manner of incoherent answers. One claimed that it was a ‘back up’ while another –the lady in charge of the bindery claimed they were meant for ‘run-off’. Our agents at that point insisted that ballots for runoff could only be printed after the first round of elections when it becomes necessary and that would be for only the 2 leading candidates and not all 12 presidential candidates. Seemingly confused, officials of INNOLINK could not provide any further tenable answers.
7. When EC officials were asked about the above development, they denied any knowledge of the same.
8. Our agents then insisted that the ballots should be destroyed forthwith. They ensured that all the ballots which were estimated at over 1 million were shredded and destroyed.
9. Attempts to get other party agents to observe the exercise on 27th November failed. Our agents, therefore, accompanied the CID and NIB officials together with officers from INNOLINK to destroy the excess ballot papers.
10. We noted that in response to the news of the destruction of the over 1 million excess presidential ballot papers for Ashanti Region, the Electoral Commission issued a statement dated 29th November 2020 in which it DISHONESTLY and DISINGENUOUSLY stated that the materials that were destroyed were waste materials and proceeded to display the Certificate of Disposal dated 25th November 2020.
11. This was dishonest and disingenuous because the EC was fully aware that the 25th November Certificate of Disposal was issued after the destruction of the plates and not wasting ballot materials.
12. The over one million excess ballots in question were destroyed on 27th November 2020 and could, therefore, not have a certificate of disposal dated 25th November.
13. We are deeply concerned about the duplicity of a hitherto reputable institution like the EC which claims its core values are transparency, fairness and integrity. The Electoral Commission has a lot of integrity deficit to address.
14. There were similar incidents in the Greater Accra Region involving the discovery of some printed presidential ballot papers in about 8 constituencies where NDC agents ensured that such excess ballot papers were destroyed at various police stations.
15. Ghanaians will recall that there were reports of persons caught in constituencies such as Ejisu, Manso Nkwanta and Asawase all in the Ashanti Region with thumb printed ballot papers with the official seal of the Electoral Commission.
16. The Electoral Commission, therefore, has more questions to answer as to why it supervised the printing of excess ballot papers and how their official seals found their way into the hands of unauthorized persons.
17. In view of the apparent complicity and collusion by INNOLINK Printing Press in this heinous crime NDC is at a loss as to why the commission continues to do business with that company.
Ladies and Gentlemen, with these facts and unimpeachable evidence before you, the NDC has no other choice than to accept the challenge by the Electoral Commission that the Police should investigate the allegation of the printing of over one million excess ballot papers. We are going a step further to lodge an official complaint with the Police and to provide them with all the evidence and assistance to investigate the matter to unravel the truth for all Ghanaians to see.
Bossman Asare claimed that the EC knew nothing about the security arrangements for the 2020 elections and could therefore not be held liable for the extrajudicial killings of innocent citizens. This is a shocking display of dishonesty and lack of respect for the people of Ghana
First of all, the EC was the organiser of the election that took place in 2020. It was impossible for any other institution to fashion out security arrangements for the said elections without recourse to the Electoral Commission.
It is important here to underscore the fact that the EC and the Ghana Police Service lead the National Election Security Task Force that was responsible for all security arrangements for the Election. Indeed, the person in charge of security at both the collation centre and polling station is the returning officer and the presiding officer, respectively, both of whom are officials of the EC.
The NDC and other observers have incontrovertible evidence that it was the conduct, inaction and determination by various EC officials to subvert the will of the electorates in various constituencies and the subsequent demands of the NDC representatives that the right thing be done that led to the horrific killing of eight of our compatriots. The EC can therefore not extricate itself from the complicity in the needless loss of lives witnessed in the 2020 elections. These killing made the 2020 elections the most violent and bloodiest in the history of Ghana. This also marks the first time in the 64year history of Ghana that eight innocent Ghanaians have been murdered in cold blood by suspected NPP thugs clothed in Police and Military uniforms.
The attempt therefore by Bossman Asare to distance the Commission whose collusion with the NPP to usurp the mandate of the people at places like Techiman South, Odododiodo, Savelugu, Ablekuma Central and others which subsequently led to these incidents of bloodshed is most shocking and unfortunate.
History will always recall that it was under the leadership of this Electoral Commission that several Ghanaians lost their lives during the elections.
It is even more shocking that in the face of these deaths, and numerous acts of violence and impunity before, during and after the elections, Jean Mensa and Bossman Asare can claim that this is the most successful election in the history of Ghana. How can a successful election lead to the deaths of 8 innocent Ghanaian citizens?
Bossman Asare referred to the Petition we filed before the Supreme Court and cited the dismissal of the same to mean we had free and fair elections. We have always maintained that there was a travesty of justice in that particular case.
The EC Chairperson’s deliberate evasion of scrutiny using obscure technicalities was the clearest indication yet that they had something to hide.
All Ghanaians witnessed how basic processes allowed in the previous Election Petition which are critical to unearthing important information necessary for the disputed elections were blocked by the panel hearing the petition.
Why the focus on Jean Mensah and not the whole Commission
The law designates the Chairperson of the EC as the Returning Officer of the Presidential Election, whose responsibility includes the collation and declaration of results of all the polling stations in the country. This is the reason why in scrutinizing her work, the focus cannot be on any other person other than the Electoral Commission.
The second most important function of the Electoral Commission provided for by article 45(b) of the 1992 constitution is to demarcate electoral boundaries for national and local government elections.
There was a monumental failure on the part of the Commission to discharge this all-important function in the 2020 Election because this is the first time ever in the history of Ghana, where the people of a whole District were disenfranchised, resulting in the lack of representation in the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic of Ghana (Santrokofi, Akpafu, Lolobi and Likpe-SALL).
This constitutes a serious breach of the law and the democratic principle of ‘no taxation without representation'.
We take note with satisfaction of Bossman Asare’s call on Ghana’s Police Service to investigate the facts put out by President Mahama. Given that President Mahama was on solid grounds when making these statements, the NDC stands ever prepared to assist in any credible investigation into the matters raised.
We are aware, however, that Bossman Asare’s call is only a red herring because he cannot feign ignorance of the fact that the police service is already seized with evidence in this matter.
On the specific printing of 1 million excess ballot papers and arrest of persons in possession of the printed ballot papers, the Ghana Police Service carried out the arrest and, therefore, should be providing an update on the status of the investigation. [VIDEOS/PHOTOS]. All that Bossman Asare needs to do is to call on the Attorney General to ask the police to investigate the matter.
It beggars belief that Bossman Asare would now join the call for investigations into the killing of eight Ghanaians ten (10) whole months after the police service had assured Ghanaians it was looking into the killings. The truth is that there is no real interest on the part of the police and the Government to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crimes to justice because the killings served the ends of the Akufo-Addo-Bawumia and NPP Government in so far as it ensures their retention in power.
So let the new IGP show the same commitment he has so far shown in bringing errant members of the society to book over misdemeanours, on the more serious crimes of extrajudicial killings.
The foregoing demonstrates clearly that the 2020 Elections were the worse in Ghana’s history.
The EC must accept this truth and work toward improving its image and regaining the confidence of Ghanaians and all stakeholders. They must shed the current garb of arrogance, intolerance, lack of consensus, outright obstinacy and obduracy and open display of hostility toward a key stakeholder like the NDC.
They must immediately revert to the previous posture of accommodation, tolerance, consensus-building, respect for stakeholders and political transparency exhibited by their forebears.
Despite our strong reservations about their performance, as expressed by President Mahama and the NDC on various platforms, the NDC remains prepared to engage the EC and all other relevant stakeholders in constructive dialogue with the view to introducing the much-needed reforms to improve upon our electoral architecture.
We hope that Jean Mensah, Bossman Asare and the EC will seize this historic opportunity to mend fences and usher in a period of mutual respect and cooperation to prevent the unfortunate incidence of the recent past.
Finally, it is our expectation that the unacceptable conduct of the 2020 Elections will be the last and that steps will be taken to restore confidence and credibility in the electoral process.