The Electoral Commission (EC), has confirmed that, the vice-presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, was “verified outside an exhibition centre” as earlier acknowledged by the NPP Deputy Director of Communication, Anthony Karbo, but later disputed by Simon Ali, NPP Walewale Constituency Secretary, on behalf of Nana Akufo-Addo’s running mate.
The electoral management body, arrived at that conclusion after its investigation into the matter which led to the sacking of two of its officials in July for verifying Dr. Bawumia at his Walewale residence during the just ended verification exercise.
A three-member committee was set up by the Northern Regional Directorate of the Commission to investigate the incident involving Ambrose Yobe, an exhibition officer, and Mumuni Latifa, a verification officer, who allegedly verified Dr. Bawumia, outside the exhibition centre.
According to a statement issued by the EC under the signatory of the Commission’s Deputy Chairperson in charge of operations, Amadu Sulley, headlined: “Verification of Dr. M. Bawumia outside Designated Exhibition Centre” the investigative committee, concluded the conduct of the two breached the electoral rules.
The Commission therefore, “wishes to advice political leaders to familiarize themselves with the electoral laws and regulations to enable them to insist on the right things being done at all times”.
It further urged members of the public to continue to support the electoral process by promptly bringing any irregularities to its attention for speedy resolution.
Anthony Karbo, the NPP’s Laura Parliamentary Candidate, who doubles as spokesperson for Dr. Bawumia, had earlier quickly jumped to the defense of his boss, after the District EC Director, Benjamin Bamubio, confirmed the dismissal of two of his officers to Accra-based Joy FM, saying their act was normal, as it is done for people of high repute in society like Dr. Bawumia.
“Indeed, my understanding is that, they [EC officials] only brought the electoral register. He looked at it and realized that his name was still on the register, and then asked them to go,” Anthony Karbo”, explained.
Anthony Karbo said, the incident was not the first, and has dismissed suggestions that, the electoral laws have been broken.
“In Laura for instance, the Paramount Chief of Laura, didn’t go down to get himself registered. For many of the paramount chiefs, the EC officials take the document to them,” he defended.
Anthony Karbo, said the officials, who have been sacked by the Commission, excitedly took the voters register to, Dr. Bawumia’s house for him to verify his particulars.
“Dr. Bawumia lives in a village called Kpelga, and it is a polling station. He has always gone out there to verify his particulars until the EC officials were excited to bring the register to his house,” he told Joy FM a fortnight ago.
Mr. Karbo said “People don’t have to necessary be there [go to polling stations] to be biometrically verified,” adding, EC officials can at times go to homes of influential Ghanaians to help them access electoral services.
“Paramount Chief of Lawra didn’t go down to verify,” he said, noting, “the EC took the register to him, and there was nothing wrong with it.”
But Simon Ali, the Walewale Constituency Secretary of the party, on behalf of Dr. Bawumia in his statement, had admitted that, indeed the sacked officers, Jobey Ambrose and Mumuni Latiff, earlier on Sunday, July 24, 2016, voluntarily brought their biometric verification equipment and voter documents to Dr. Bawumia’s house to verify him, but met his absence.
He said, later when he returned from the funeral of the late Nasia Chief in Nalerigu to Walewale around 5pm, Dr. Bawumia, went to his family home, where he was informed that the EC Officers, had come to verify him.
Though that act according to the EC contravenes the electoral laws, Ali explained that, the officers took that decision, because the clouds had formed and it was possible it was going to rain.
He maintained that, Dr. Bawumia, however, declined the offer and rather decided to proceed to the Polling Centre, which is outside the family house.
“When Dr.Bawumia came out of his family house to get verified, he met the two EC officers, moving to seek shelter since the clouds had gotten darker. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia was, therefore, verified where he met the officers – just adjacent to where the Polling Centre had been set up and not in his residence; not even by its gate”, he claimed.
The NDC had alleged that the decision to get Dr. Bawumia verified in his home was purposely to remove suspected members of the party from the electoral roll and that the two officers were motivated with cash amount of GH¢10,000.
But Ali refuted it saying “This is hallucination of the highest order. Why would anyone pay to get verified when verification is free and takes absolutely no time? “What benefit is there in Dr. Bawumia paying EC officials during this verification exercise? As to how the NDC comes by such creations, is something only they and probably Psychiatrics can explain”.
However, narrating the issue to Joy news last Friday, the District EC Director, Benjamin Bamubio, said, the Commission, got wind of the incident, following a tip-off.
He said, the duo when interrogated, said someone called them that there were some people who were on their way to check their particulars.
After having waited for some time and nobody showed up, they were later told the people were inside a particular house.
The two without thinking about the implications of their actions took the register and verification machine to the said house.
When they got to the house, they were asked to verify the particulars of Dr. Bawumia. “This is something that was against the Electoral Commission, so I instructed the supervisors to immediately drop the two and replace them with new officers to continue the work for the EC,” he said.
The NDC, asked for a harsher punishment for the two, other than a mere dismissal. It’s Walewale Constituency Communications Officer, Imoro Abdul Razak, insisted that information reaching them indicates this has been the plan of the opposition NPP in the District to influence the verification process.
“Our investigation has shown that a senior official at the District office instructed the two officers to send the Biometric Verification Device (BVD) to Dr. Bawumia’s house,” he said, adding, an alarm must be raised as the nation marches into the election.
The Deputy Director of Communication at the EC, Yusif Alhassan, also condemned the decision by two of its officials to send the voters’ register and verification machine to the residence of the running mate of Nana Akufo-Addo, saying the officers, violated the Commission’s rules by verifying Dr. Bawumia at his residence.
“At no point should you go to anybody’s house to verify the person or let the person check his or her name so based on this the people were relieved of their duties and a new set of team was appointed. …..the Regional Directorate had received a report from the Supervisor so they are studying it and they will send a team on the ground to do further investigations and a report will be submitted to the Electoral Commission.”
“The rule if very clear; you are supposed to stay at the exhibition centre, you are not supposed to move to anybody’s home or any other place except you are sitting at the centre to be verified, ”Yusif Alhassan argued on The Big Issue on Citi FM.