Two aspirants in the upcoming national executive election of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) have raised further issues with the manner the Election Committee was handling affairs.
Edmund Kofi Yeboah, a General Secretary aspirant and Lloyd Evans, presidential aspirant in separate letters to the Election Committee have challenged the decision to re-open nominations after the Elections Dispute Adjudication Committee (EDAC) pronounced that the process should continue.
Following the disqualification of some candidates including Lloyd Evans and Mathew Mac Kwame, a vice presidential aspirant, they petitioned the EDAC and because of the short period to hear the petitions, the election was postponed indefinitely from the March 31, 2017 date at the request of the EDAC.
After hearing the petitions, the EDAC said "candidates who were disqualified from contesting the elections on the basis other than (i) not being members or (ii) whose membership was below three years should be given the opportunity to contest the elections."
That meant that, Mr Lloyd Evans and Mr Mathew Mac Kwame, were to be given the opportunity to contest.
Before the postponement, all aspirants had been vetted but on Monday May 15, 2017 however, the Election Committee issued a statement and announced that it was re-opening nominations for prospective candidates.
This, Yeboah and Evans thinks was “unconstitutional” since the EDAC, whose pronouncement according to the GJA constitution was final did not say the process should start afresh but said it should continue.
Read the letters from the two aspirants to the Election Committee below
GJA Election Dispute Adjudication Committee
May 18, 2017.
APPEAL AGAINST DECISION BY GJA ELECTIONS COMMITTEE TO RE-OPEN NOMINATIONS FOR THE 2017 GJA ELECTIONS
I write in my personal capacity as a member of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in good standing and aspirant for the position of General Secretary in the 2017 GJA elections. I wish to appeal against the decision by the GJA Elections Committee (EC) to re-open nominations for the 2017 GJA Elections in the following respects:
1. The EC, in a press release dated February 15, 2017, announced the opening of nominations for the 2017 GJA Elections from Thursday, February 16, 2017 and closing of same on Monday, February 27, 2017. The National Executive positions advertised for contest were: President, Vice President, General Secretary, Organising Secretary, Treasurer and Public Affairs Officer. In response to that call, I filed my nomination to contest for the General Secretary position and paid the requisite nomination fee thereto.
2. The Elections Committee subsequently invited me to appear before it for vetting on Monday, March 13, 2017, to which invitation I duly honoured. Subsequently, the EC cleared me to contest for the position of General Secretary, having found my nomination without blemish.
3. In both processes aforementioned – filing of nomination and vetting, I incurred huge costs in monetary and committal terms.
4. The EC later disqualified some candidates whereupon some of the affected candidates and members of the GJA filed petitions to the Election Dispute Adjudication Committee (EDAC) against the disqualification.
5. In view of the pendency of the petitions/appeals before the EDAC, the EC, in a press release dated March 23, 2017, announced the postponement of the elections, adding, “A new date for the elections will be communicated as soon as the EDAC completes its work”.
6. On or around May 12, 2017, the EDAC issued a press release to announce its conclusion and determination of the said petitions, and consequently advised the EC “to lift the indefinite postponement of the Elections for the process to take its course”.
7. However, in announcing a new date for the elections per a press release dated May 15, 2017, the EC also announced the re-opening of nominations contrary to my expectation and the advice to it by the EDAC “for the process to take its course”.
8. The decision by the EC to re-open nominations, requiring me to go through the processes of nomination and vetting, which processes I had already submitted myself to and been duly cleared, is a travesty of justice and fairness to me. Indeed, it will cause me colossal losses in monetary and committal terms as indicated earlier.
9. The decision by the EC to re-open nominations will also allow new aspirants, who were given ample opportunity to contest when nominations were opened in February but did not avail themselves of such opportunity, to now file nominations to contest with others who have already made enormous commitments to the process. Such tendency, in my humble view, renders the electoral process unfair and also rewards indolence and apathy, while punishing vigilance and commitment.
10. To the best of my understanding, postponement means to put something on hold until a later time or date; postponement does not mean annulment whereby everything is scrapped. So calling for fresh nominations, after postponing the elections to allow for the outcome of an electoral process laid down in the GJA Constitution, seems quite outlandish.
11. In any event, the EDAC, in its determination of the petitions brought before it, did not make any recommendation for re-opening of nominations. So in my humble view, anything done contrary to, or inconsistent with, the recommendations of the EDAC undermines the integrity of the very institution established for the good of the GJA.
12. Article 53(a)(vi) of the GJA Constitution 2004 provides: “The decision of the Election Dispute Adjudication Committee shall be final”. The decision by the EC to re-open nominations, regardless of the recommendations made by the EDAC in respect of election petitions, is a complete violation of the GJA Constitution. The EC’s decision suggests that whenever an aggrieved candidate or member files a petition to the EDAC and the EDAC makes a determination on same, the whole electoral process may be re-started. Such precedent is detrimental to the collective good of the GJA and same must not be allowed to fester.
13. To buttress my submission in the foregoing paragraph, I wish to make reference to the Republic v Charlotte Osei and The Electoral Commission (ex parte Papa Kwesi Nduom) (2016). In that case, after the High Court in Accra had reversed the decision of the Electoral Commission to disqualify Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom from contesting in the 2016 presidential election, and ordering the Electoral Commission to afford Dr Nduom an opportunity to amend his nomination forms and for the electoral process to proceed, the Electoral Commission did not re-open nominations. Rather, it continued with the electoral processes until they were halted by the court action. This is the legal and rightful precedent, I respectfully submit, the GJA Elections Committee must follow.
14. I am, therefore, appealing to your august committee to review the decision of the EC to re-open nominations for the 2017 elections and to prevail upon it to let the process take its course as you rightly advised. Anything short of upholding my humble appeal will cause me irredeemable losses and grave injustice.
(GJA Member and General Secretary Aspirant)
cc: 1. GJA Council of Elders
2. GJA 2017 Elections Committee
Below is Mr Evans' letter
GJA Elections Committee
Ghana Int. Press Centre Ring way Estates
May 17, 2017
Report of the EDAC and related matters
I have read in both the main line media as well as on some social media platforms that candidates who were disqualified from the elections on the basis other than not being members or whose membership was below three years should be given the opportunity to contest the elections.
This statement came from the Elections Dispute Adjudication Committee (EDAC) on Friday May 12, 2017.
Then on Monday May 15 2017, the Elections Committee also issued another statement which I also read both in the main line media and on some social media platforms which called for re-opening of nominations for prospective candidates to contest both the national and regional executive positions.
Much as all disqualified candidates will be glad to hear this news from different platforms and sources, at least courtesy demands that the committee which disqualified and wrote to the candidates about their disqualification should for the purposes of the records write back to those disqualified candidates informing them of the outcome of the work of the EDAC.
Again reading from the full report of the EDAC there is nowhere in the report in which the committee called for the re-opening of nominations. It is therefore surprising if not strange that the Elections Committee should come up with a statement of re-opening of nominations.
There is equally nowhere in the GJA Constitution which calls for re-opening of nominations when election issues have been settled by an adjudication committee.
I wish to state that, this is unconstitutional and has no legal basis whatsoever. With due respect, the Elections Committee must not sit in their comfort zone and misinterpret both the GJA Constitution and the Report of the EDAC. That report dated May 15, 2017 from the Elections Committee must be withdrawn without further delay.
The way forward is for the Elections Committee to write to all the disqualified aspirants and inform them of the outcome of the EADC report and meet with them in order to come up with a time table for the elections and clear other outstanding issues In the EDAC Report.
All aspirants have keen interest in this year’s elections as such the Elections Committee must be very transparent in dealing with all of them without creating any room for suspicion.
More importantly, now that we have misses the constitutional date for the elections, the Elections Committee cannot on its own determine when the elections should be held. All aspirants are stakeholders. The processes be done in consultation and collaboration with all aspirants.
It will therefore be in the interest of all journalists if the right things are done and done well.