The IMANI Center for Policy and Education has petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the Electoral Commission’s (EC) conduct in the retirement and disposal of some election-related equipment.

The centre has also directed a possible referral of the matter to the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) for a specialised corruption risk assessment suited to the unique capabilities of EC.

This follows the EC’s disposal and auctioning of some equipment it described as obsolete.

Franklin Cudjoe, Executive Director at IMANI in a statement on Monday, May 6, announcing the filing of the petition, said he and his colleagues were gravely concerned by the EC’s handling of the nation’s scarce resources in the discharge of its duties.

He indicated that they believed such conduct amounted to “misappropriation”, “wastage”, and “misuse” of said resources, adding “At a time when the nation cannot service its debts and is in the midst of a tight IMF-supervised fiscal regime, such egregious conduct cannot be tolerated.”

Mr Cudjoe said the petition lamented that the EC’s conduct in the premature retirement and eventual disposal of tens of thousands of laptops, digital cameras, printers, scanners, and fingerprint verifiers, has been motivated by a conflict between its duties under various laws to judiciously apply the resources of the country for the good of the citizenry, on the one hand, and its tendency to take decisions favourable to various commercial vendors and transactors, on the other hand.

“Furthermore, we stated our belief that the EC’s most recent conduct has been necessitated by a need to curtail transparency and accountability, and thus was motivated by a collective conflict of interest and potential corruption. By its actions, it is attempting to erase inventory records and physical evidence of the blatant falsehoods it has told over the last four years regarding the purchase history of expensive electoral equipment.”

“We asserted our longstanding claim that the EC’s electoral equipment is a portfolio of multiple items, bought and refurbished at different intervals between 2011 and 2019. That portfolio does not uniformly date to 2011 or 2012 as the EC has falsely and persistently claimed, and could thus not be so uniformly obsolete as to warrant a firesale to mysterious bidders, who have kept the prime portions for themselves and discarded the rest to be used as scrap. Ghana cannot continue to be milked in this fashion,” he further stated.

Franklin Cudjoe added that some of the devices cost more than $3000 each, and together are worth tens of millions of dollars.

“At worst, they should have been donated to other government agencies that routinely buy similar machines at great cost to the state or transparently sold through a properly regulated public tender under the strict rules of the Public Procurement Act to ensure strict value for money,” he added.

Mr Cudjoe opined that the equipment in question contained sensitive voter information, including polling records and biometric data, that could be reassembled for nefarious purposes by devious actors to harm citizens and/or undermine Ghana’s public elections in some shape or fashion.

“We do not believe that the EC and its commercial counterparties in these transactions complied with the highest standards of data handling and protection required in the transfer and/or disposal of such sensitive equipment. At any rate, none of them had the requisite certifications to be trusted with such a task,” he added.

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