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Director of Elections of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah has described as misleading reports by the Electoral Commission that the 2020 polls was free, fair, transparent and saved the country some GHS90 million despite the challenges of COVID-19.
Mr Afriyie-Ankrah said one would expect that “an EC as an unbiased umpire after an election will be candid, sober, reflective, admit short comings, challenges and difficulties so as to put in place mechanisms to ensure a better performance in subsequent elections; but if in the face of overwhelming evidence of very serious anomalies and discrepancies in the 2020 Elections, Madam Jean Mensah can describe these Elections as one of the best in the history of this country, then God help Ghana.”
He questioned in a statement if an election that saw eight people losing their lives could be described as free, fair and transparent.
It is recalled that addressing the opening ceremony of the high-level parliamentary seminar on: “Two decades of democratic elections in ECOWAS member states: Achievements, challenges and the way forward”, in Winneba, EC chair Jean Mensa listed the successes of the 2020 polls such as reduction of the cost of the election from $13 per person in 2016 to $7.7 in 2020.
Moreover, she said the EC also cut down the time it took a voter to vote from 10 to 12 minutes per voter to three to five minutes.
She said the EC had only six months to conduct the elections, and that within that short space of time, “we completed every electoral process, including introducing and deploying a new Biometric Voter Management System, comprising hardware and software, and preparing a new biometric voters register”.
“This and other electoral processes were undertaken within a space of six months, from June 30th, when we started the registration exercise, to December 9th, when we declared the results,” she stated.
Mrs Mensa said in spite of the fears and projection of a low turnout as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EC compiled an entirely new biometric voters register in 38 days only, successfully registering over 17 million eligible Ghanaians in that short period of time and exceeding its initial target of 15 million registrants.
“The efficiency of our coverage in the voter registration exercise has been attested to by the recently released population census figures that place Ghana’s population at 30.8 million. The 17,027,000 voters on the register represent 55.2 per cent of the population of Ghana; a percentage that fully meets international standards for the registration of voters.”
She said Ghana proved that electoral processes in West Africa could be transparent, as all the electoral activities were conducted in the full glare of the public.
In response, Mr Afriyie-Ankrah noted that if the elections were as free and fair as Mrs Mensah claims, and she had nothing to hide, why did she refuse to testify in court and had to hide behind technicalities when she was required to give account of her stewardship during the election petition.
Contrary to the EC’s claim of a free, fair elections, Mr Afriyie-Ankrah said the election management body breached an important ECOWAS protocol, made a deliberate effort to weaken IPAC and destroy the culture of consensus building, organised a hasty, flawed voter registration exercise, caused financial loss to the state and did not save Ghana any GHS90million and printed illegal secret ballot papers among others.
He described Mrs Mensah’s posturing and attitude as a threat to Ghana’s democracy adding that the earlier she is called to order the better.
“If anyone thinks that the NDC will sit down and allow themselves to be brutalised and murdered in the 2024 elections as it happened in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Bye-elections and the recent 2020 elections, that person should have his/her head properly examined,” the statement said.
Read the full statement below:
RESPONSE TO THE PRESENTATION MADE BY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER MADAM JEAN MENSAH AT THE HIGH-LEVEL REGIONAL PARLIAMENTARY SEMINAR OF THE ECOWAS PARLIAMENT IN WINNEBA- GHANA ON WEDNESDAY 19TH OCTOBER, 2021
Our attention has been drawn to recent pronouncements by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Madam Jean Mensah at the just ended High-level Regional Parliamentary Seminar of the ECOWAS Parliament in Winneba. The E.C chair made outright false and fallacious statements aimed at misleading the participants at the just ended programme.
The EC Chair, falsely claimed that the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections were historic, credible and cost-effective. These assertions by the EC Chairperson are once again a manifestation of her arrogant posturing and arbitrary attitude towards the entire electoral process in Ghana. It is indeed shocking that Madam Jean Mensah would describe the 2020 elections as the best in the history of this country. The utterances are very significant because they have serious consequences for the stability and sustenance of our democracy.
One would expect that an Electoral Commission as an unbiased umpire after an election will be candid, sober, reflective, admit short comings, challenges and difficulties so as to put in place mechanisms to ensure a better performance in subsequent elections; but if in the face of overwhelming evidence of very serious anomalies and discrepancies in the 2020 Elections, Madam Jean Mensah can describe these Elections as one of the best in the history of this country, then God help Ghana. An election that saw 8 people losing their lives, innocent Ghanaians murdered in cold blood????
By coincidence, Mrs. Jean Mensah was addressing an institution, which, for the sake of peace in the ECOWAS sub-region, has made specific treaties to prevent violent conflicts emanating from elections and to ensure peace in the region. A cursory look at events prior to, during and after the elections, point to the fact that Mrs. Jean Mensah had violated both our National laws and various aspects of the ECOWAS treaty obligations.
First of all, the EC breached an Important ECOWAS Protocol
Article 2 Clause 1 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (A/SP1/12/01) unequivocally 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. This was one of the arguments that Opposition Parties and numerous CSOs and Governance Experts raised during the discussions on the need for a new Voters Register. The contention of the Opposition and many large sections of the Ghanaian Society was that, in the previous year, Millions of Ghana Cedis had been spent on upgrading the Old Register. Therefore, having spent such millions approved by Parliament to buy this new equipment, there was no need for a New Register. Madam Jean Mensah and her EC ignored all these sound admonishing and went ahead with her procurements in the face of protestations by well-meaning Ghanaian citizens.
It is amazing that after blatantly disregarding their protocol, Madam Jean Mensah would stand before the same ECOWAS to allude to these false assertions.
Secondly the EC made a deliberate effort to weaken IPAC and destroy the culture of consensus building that has characterized deliberations at IPAC since its inception in 1993
Madam Jean Mensah and her Electoral Commission have completely destroyed the spirit of consensus and mutual respect that existed at IPAC and has turned IPAC into a forum where she dictates what she likes, which is often in line with what her appointing authority the NPP Government wants and would not listen to any suggestion whatsoever from the main opposition Party.
For the first time in the history of the EC, Political parties were not involved in the drafting of the C.I (127) as was the practice in the past, where the initial processes and consultations were all done together with the Political Parties at the Committee level before it was brought to the Plenary and subsequently to Parliament. It is therefore not surprising that there were numerous flaws and errors in the C.I (127) and it had to be returned to the EC on more than one occasion.
It is instructive to note that a Deputy Commissioner of the EC, Dr. Bossman Asare is on record to have said publicly that the NDC is an existential threat to Ghana’s democracy.
Madam Jean Mensah in order to bypass IPAC and to have her own way, set up a so called Eminent Advisory Committee. The NDC cautioned this committee that the motives for setting up that committee was to use them to validate some of the ills of the EC but they did not listen. One wonders where these Eminent Advisory Committee members are now and what they have to say about all the anomalies that occurred during the Elections, including the murder of 8 innocent Ghanaians.
A hasty, flawed Voter Registration Exercise
This exercise had numerous issues such as multiple registrations, duplicate serial numbers, faulty equipment, missing names on the register etc. and for the first time in our history, unprecedented violence, massive bloodshed and even deaths.
Minister of State Hawa Koomson and her thugs openly fired shots at innocent people at various polling stations, young Silas was killed in Banda and many others suffered various levels and degrees of injuries but nothing has been done to any of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
EC Caused Financial Loss to the State and did not Save Ghana any $90million dollars.
Madam Jean Mensah also claimed that she saved the country $90 million. She is the only one who knows the basis of this assertion because as far as we are concerned there has not been any independent audit of the finances of the Electoral Commission. Within the context of her claims on expenditure and savings, several CSOs led by IMANI Ghana came out with documentary evidence showing that the procurements she carried out lacked transparency and even cited her for corruption due to bloated figures. Until we have an independent scrutiny of her accounts, she cannot claim to have saved any money for Ghana.
Moreover; Parliament had approved tens of millions of Ghana cedis for the EC to upgrade existing infrastructure at the time. What has happened to all that equipment that she spent tens of millions of Ghana cedis on.
Her unsubstantiated and unverified claims are akin to a student writing an exam, generating her own marking scheme and subsequently claiming she got 100% in the exams. How ridiculous!!!
Printing of Illegal Secret Ballot Papers
For the first time in the history of Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Ghana, Political Parties (specifically the NDC) was not given the ballot statistics required for Party Agents to track the number of ballot papers to be printed for each Polling Station before printing began. The NDC had to call a Press Conference to drum home these issues for the right thing to be done. Subsequently the Party managed to get this information from the various Printing houses.
Also notable of concern is the printing of excess ballots. Ballots were printed in excess of required 5% of total registered voters in each polling station to cater for spoilt ballots. Furthermore, the NDC discovered over 1 million ballot papers that were secretly printed for Ashanti Region alone. When the officials were queried, they unintelligently replied that they were meant for run-offs. Further checks led to the discovery of excess secret ballots for other Constituencies in Greater Accra (Okaikoi North, Ablekuma South, Korle Klottey, Tema East, Adenta, Madina, Ledzokuku, Krowor, La Dadekotopon, Ableuma Central). All these ballots were subsequently destroyed in the presence of the Security Services and there is sufficient video evidence to support these claims.
Use of Illegal Statement of Polls Form 8B.
After the Special Voting exercise, it was realized that the approved Form 8B by Parliament was altered by taking out the column C6 which serves the purposes of ballot accounting to ensure transparency. The EC Chairperson was then directed by the Minister of National Security and Chief of Staff in an emergency meeting on the 2nd of December, 2020 to address this illegality but she did not heed to their directive. She rather replaced that column with the so called Stamp, just a day before the main elections.
During our Pink Sheet auditing process, the Party observed that some of these forms either had no Stamps or were not filled, while others were not signed. All these created loopholes and made it difficult for Agents to do proper ballot accounting which paved the way for various forms of manipulation and ballot stuffing.
The strange Introduction of Regional Collation Centres
The introduction of the Regional Collation Centres created a lot of opacity in the process, as corroborated by the EU 2020 elections report on page 41. We are convinced beyond any shred of doubt that the creation of that layer gave room for the manipulation of figures and this was manifested in the hasty and arithmetically incoherent and mathematically implausible results she announced.
Multiple Results declaration
If there was any record or history that Madam Jean Mensah and the EC has achieved, it is in the record of being the first Electoral Commissioner to declare results which initially totaled under 100% and after the subsequent so-called correction the total exceeded over 100%. This is the first EC that has declared six (6) different results with multiple corrections which were also wrong and to date, Ghanaians still do not know the actual or right figure/result she used to declare the so called winner. This is unprecedented in the history of Ghana’s electoral system.
If there is anything that is the manifestation of the perversity, absurdity and blatant disregard for the rule of law and due processes, it is evident in the way the people of SALL were treated. The EC Chairperson gave several assurances to the people of SALL that they were going to be involved in both Presidential and Parliamentary elections, only to issue an administrative fiat 24 hours to the Elections to disenfranchise tens of thousands of qualified Ghanaian Voters from exercising their franchise. The parochial purpose of this unpatriotic act was just to enable Mr. Peter Amewu to win the Hohoe Parliamentary seat for the NPP, and in the face of such a blatant aberration and bare face illegality, she has the guts to describe this election as a perfect one?????!!!!
As rightly put by Legal Practitioner Prof. Kwaku Asare, “SALL is the cardinal sin of the 4thh Republic”.
Electoral Violence and intimidation
When confronted with numerous cases of electoral violence in the 2020 general elections, Jean Mensah’s response was that they did not occur at the polling stations and therefore the Electoral officers could not be held responsible. Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth. Almost all the cases of violence and murder occurred at the collation centres. Are the collations centres not part of the electoral architecture? Is it not the Electoral Commission which is in charge of the elections? She made similar statements during the violence in Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election. That indifferent attitude and nonchalant posturing is what emboldened these thugs to go and master their art of murder, thuggery and violence and subsequently resulted in the murder of 8 innocent Ghanaians.
With this same posturing if care is not taken we may record even more acts of murder and violence in the 2024 Elections.
The blood of all these 8 innocent citizens is surely on the head of Madam Jean Mensah and Nana Akufo Addo, the ultimate beneficiaries of these heinous crimes; so she should not come out in October (10 months after the Elections) and just say in a blasé manner that the Police should investigate. Madam Jean Mensah never acted like a mother. Would she have behaved this same way if these victims were her relatives? This indifferent attitude will only open way for more violence in 2024 if care is not taken and she has to be called to order by all well-meaning citizens.
In any case if the elections were as free and fair as she claimed and she had nothing to hide, why did she refuse to testify in court and had to hide behind technicalities when she was required to give account of her stewardship during the Election Petition? Any truthful person would have taken advantage of that opportunity to come into the dock and vindicate him or herself as was done by her predecessor Dr. Afari Gyan during the 2013 Election Petition.
Madam Jean Mensah’s posturing and attitude are a threat to our Democracy and the earlier she is called to order the better. If anyone thinks that the NDC will sit down and allow themselves to be brutalized and murdered in the 2024 Elections as it happened in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Bye-elections and the recent 2020 Elections, that person should have his/her head properly examined.
In conclusion, we call on all well-meaning Ghanaians to rise up and speak out now to save this dear nation of ours!
Director of Elections