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Ghana needs credible register - Judge cautions EC

Fri, 4 Mar 2016 Source: Daily Guide Network

A judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Victor Jones Dotse, has cautioned the Electoral Commission (EC) to conduct the November 7 polls with a credible voter register.

The statement follows an application for interlocutory injunction by two people seeking to prevent the EC from conducting the by-election in the Abuakwa North Constituency later this month using the current register.

Justice Dotse urged the EC to take another look at the alternatives offered by its (EC’s) panel to clean the register.

The court however dismissed the application.

The seven-member panel of justices, presided over by Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, deferred the reasons for the decision until the final judgement in the substantive case before the court.

The CJ however urged the EC and the Attorney General (AG), who are the third and the fourth defendants in the case respectively, to meet the plaintiffs, whom she said had softened their stance in respect of the reliefs they were seeking from the court to find a solution to the case.

Justice Wood stated that the EC, when meeting the plaintiffs, must show good faith and commitment to make things work.

The plaintiffs – Abu Ramadan, a former National Youth Organiser of the People’s National Convention (PNC) and Evans Nimako, a farmer – dragged the EC and the AG to court praying it to prevent the EC from conducting the limited registration exercise from April 28 to May 8, 2016.

The exercise is to enable persons who have since the last registration exercise attained the age of eighteen and others who qualify but may not have registered yet to do so.

The applicants had also sought to scuttle plans by the EC to organise the Abuakwa North Constituency by-election using the current electoral roll. They described the attempt by the EC to use the existing register as “prejudicial and contemptuous…in allowing unqualified persons to participate in determining this country’s future.”

Arguments

The two had through their lawyer, Nana Asante Bediatuo, in an affidavit in support of the motion, wanted the court to restrain the EC from conducting any new registration exercise or public election until the matters complained of in the substantive suit were addressed by the court.

They among other reliefs sought a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution, the mandate of the EC to compile the register of voters implies a duty to compile a reasonably accurate and credible register.

The applicants’ lawyer requested the apex court to declare that the current voter register, which contains the names of persons who had not established qualification to be registered, is not reasonably accurate or credible and therefore inconsistent with Article 45(a) of the Constitution, thereby making same unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.

Besides a declaration that the current register, which contains the names of persons who are deceased, is not reasonably accurate or credible and is therefore inconsistent with Article 45(a) of the Constitution, the applicants are also seeking an order setting aside the current register and compelling the EC to compile a fresh one before the conduct of any new public election or referendum in Ghana; or, in the alternative, an order compelling the EC to audit the current electoral roll through the validation of the registration of each person currently on the register.

Rebuttal

Thaddeus Sory, appearing for the EC, said the Commission was vehemently opposed to the motion, indicating that the applicants had failed to show that any irreparable damage would be caused if the court did not grant their request.

He said the application also undermined the fundamental principle for the grant or otherwise of equitable reliefs, adding that equity follows the law.

In the view of the EC lawyer, the Commission had taken steps to sanitise the very register the applicants were seeking to attack.

Dorothy Afiriyie Ansah, a Chief State Attorney, said the AG had filed its statement of case in respect of the motion for injunction before the court and would rely on same.

Source: Daily Guide Network
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