Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei, is under intense pressure to explain how her outfit was able to auction about 40 vehicles without proper documentation.
The demand for explanation has come from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament. It wants the EC to provide further and better particulars of all the vehicles auctioned, which Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, immediate past chairman of the commission, grabbed a 2008 model Nissan Urvan mini bus for a paltry GH¢2,675.
Interestingly, the Auditor General’s Report of 2015 had captured the EC auctions, which were done in 2013 in the heat of the landmark Presidential Election Petition – when Dr. Afari-Gyan was being grilled by the Supreme Court on the 2012 presidential election results.
Ridiculous Prices
It is turning out that Mrs Charlotte Osei, who is herself facing preliminary investigations over alleged abuse of office and corruption, does not even know the name(s) of the auctioneer(s) involved in the transaction that generated the ridiculous prices.
There are issues, including whether the whole exercise was open to the public or it was restricted to the commission’s staff alone; and whether it was advertised in the newspapers for prospective applicants to take notice of.
Defending the process, Mrs Osei said the vehicles were more than four years and had lost their values and so ideally, they would have been valued at zero percent.
Name Of Auctioneer
When asked about the name of the auctioneer engaged to dispose of the vehicles last week in parliament, Mrs. Charlotte Osei told the PAC, chaired by James Klutse Avedzi – MP for Ketu North – that “I don’t have that information here.”
Accompanied by Amadu Sulley, a Deputy EC Chairman in-charge of Operations, the chairperson said, “There were 40 vehicles which were disposed of in the year 2013. Those vehicles were acquired, most of them in the year 2007, 2006, 2000 and some in 2003.
“When we disposed of them through the auction, a total amount of about GH¢83,000 was realized. We have made copies of the documentation relating to that available as well.
“We have also given details of each vehicle – the year of purchase, the registration number, the year of disposal and the amount realized from the auction.”
The PAC chairman asked Mrs Osei – who could not provide the names of the auctioneers, the date on which the auction was done as well as the official advertisement announcing the intended auction – to supply those pieces of information to the committee to help in its work.
Initial Decision
It turned out at the PAC sitting that Dr. Afari-Gyan and other employees of the commission were among a group of 40 people who benefitted from the auction of vehicles at very ridiculous prices.
The auction was done after a decision had been taken by the management, headed by Dr. Afari-Gyan, to auction them so that some employees could make the purchase to motivate them.
The lowest price was GH¢749 and the highest being GH¢3,745.
A 2007 double-cabin Nissan pick-up with registration number GV 48 Y, was sold to one Saeed Mohammed at GH¢749.
The highest-valued auctioned vehicles were sold to two individuals – George Boison and Modestar Asungunah – at GH¢3,745 each.
The vehicles were two Peugeot Boxer mini buses manufactured in 2007 and were each bought at GH¢96,015 by the EC.
Two others – Augustine Okrah and Dongyile Guri – purchased double-cabin Nissan pick-ups at GH¢1,070 each; but the original price was GH¢18,683 each.
Christiana Bosompem also purchased one at GH¢2,000 and later topped it up with GH¢140. The EC officials did not disclose, which vehicle it was.
A member of the PAC, Ras Mubarak – MP for Kumbungu – wanted to know whether Saeed Mohammed, who bought the Nissan pick-up, was an employee of the commission, but Madam Osei could not supply the answer, saying unless she verified from the commission’s records.