September 20, 2020
Clickongh

ASEPA's petition to remove EC boss thrown out as CJ makes no adverse findings

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has dismissed a petition to remove the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Mensa following a determination of no adverse evidence of a legal breach by the EC boss.

Civil society organisation, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), led by its Executive Secretary, Mensah Thompson petitioned the President to remove Mrs Jean Mensa from office on the grounds that she failed to declare her assets on time on assumption of office in 2018.

After the Presidency forwarded the petition to the Chief Justice for action, the Chief Justice did not establish any adverse evidence of a legal breach against the EC boss.

The Chief Justice did not also find any statute that criminalises the non-declaration of assets within the stipulated time in the Constitution.

Following this, the Presidency subsequently dismissed the petition.

Earlier petition to CHRAJ

ASEPA had earlier on December 12, 2019, filed a similar complaint at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) that Mrs Mensa failed or refused to declare her assets.

CHRAJ ruled in favour of the Chairperson of the EC.

In its decision on June 4, 2020, CHRAJ held that at the time the complaint was filed on December 12, 2019, the EC boss had not filed her assets with the Auditor-General, but she filed her assets on February 17, 2020, after the complaint was brought to her attention.

Such a move, CHRAJ held, meant the EC boss had not refused to declare her assets as required by Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution.

ASEPA petitions President

Not satisfied with the ruling by CHRAJ, ASEPA in a letter dated June 9, 2020 petitioned the President to remove the EC boss for failing to declare her assets on time.

ASEPA argued that Mrs Mensa failed to declare her assets “within three months as stipulated by Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution, although she became the Chairperson of the EC on January 8, 2018.”

Chief Justice’s conclusions and dismissal of petition

In a letter dated July 27, 2020 and signed by the Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, the Presidency explained that the petition was forwarded to the Chief Justice for action but the Chief Justice did not establish any adverse evidence of a legal breach against the EC boss.

“The Chief Justice did not find any statute that criminalises the non-declaration of assets within the stipulated time in the Constitution,” the letter from the presidency [attached below] explained.

“In any event, CHRAJ did not make any adverse findings against the Chairperson as the investigation was terminated and the complaint dismissed after the Chairperson declared her assets on 17th February 2020,” the letter added.

“Accordingly, I am directed by the President to inform you [ASEPA] that your petition has been dismissed,” it said.

Read alsoCHRAJ discontinues investigations into EC boss’ asset declaration complaint

What CHRAJ said

According to CHRAJ, having established that Mrs Mensa had complied with Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution, it was not necessary to continue with investigations into the complaint by ASEPA.

That, CHRAJ said, was in line with Section 13 (1)(b) of the CHRAJ Act, 1993 (Act 456) which allowed the commission to refuse to continue to investigate a matter when it appeared that further investigation was not needed.

“Having established in the course of the investigation that the respondent (EC boss) has now complied with Article 286 albeit late , the commission is of the considered opinion that the appropriate action, having regard to the circumstances of the case, is to refuse to investigate the matter any further as further investigation will not be necessary,” the decision signed by the Commissioner for CHRAJ, Mr Joseph Whittal, stated.

File your assets early

CHRAJ, however, advised Mrs Mensa not to delay in declaring her assets with the Auditor-General in the future.

“Based on the results of the investigations, the commission strongly advises the respondent (Mrs Mensa) to pay careful attention to her obligations under Article 286 to ensure that the delay that occurred previously in the declaration of her assets and liabilities does not occur,” CHRAJ said.

Below is a copy of the letter from the Office of the President

Writer’s email: enoch.frimpong@graphic.com.gh 

Source: Politics