Supreme Court rules on EC, NDC case today

BY: Justice Agbenorsi
NDC General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia
NDC General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia

The Supreme Court has fixed today (Thursday) to deliver its judgement on whether or not the Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) decision to exclude the existing voter ID card as one of the source documents for registration during the upcoming voter's registration exercise is Constitutional.

At the hearing yesterday, the seven-member panel of the apex court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah also dismissed an amicus brief application filed by lawyers of four civil society Organisations (CSOs) including, policy think tank, IMANI Africa and the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA).

The others include the Policy Innovation Alliance for Social Equity and the Conservative Policy Research Centre and Institute for Liberty.

Amicus brief

Per the amicus brief, the CSOs sought to offer knowledge regarding the case that will eventually have a bearing on the case.

Counsel for the CSOs, Mr Joe Aboagye Debrah took his turn at the court to make his submissions regarding the application for the amicus brief.

In the course of making his submission, the Chief Justice questioned the lawyer on whether he had taken a look at the substantive processes regarding the two cases.

In response, Mr Debrah told the court he had not read it but had only seen the affidavit.

The Chief Justice further asked how he (Mr Debrah) could contribute to the case with his application since he had not taken a look at the substantive processes in the suits.

A member of the panel, Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonney acknowledged the role of the CSOs in the country but argued that as a result of all the issues being raised by the CSOs, it would have been better if the CSO’s had joined one of the parties in the case rather than filing a motion for amicus brief.

Application opposed

A Deputy Attorney General (A-G) Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame and lawyer for the EC opposed the application.

Upon listening to the submissions, the Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah dismissed the application stating that it was not supported by law.

Cases against EC

In March this year, the NDC filed a suit against the EC and the (A-G) on two grounds that first, the entire registration exercise was unconstitutional because per Article 45 (a) of the 1992 Constitution, the EC could only compile a voters register once and periodically revise it.

The second leg of the suit was that the decision of the EC to exclude an existing voter ID card as a form of identification for the registration would disenfranchise many potential registrants and, therefore, it was unconstitutional as it violated Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, which gave a citizen of Ghana the right to vote and also the right to register to vote.

On June 11, this year, lawyers for the biggest opposition party abandoned the first leg of its case, the one challenging the constitutionality of the decision by the EC to compile a new voters register for the 2020 general election after the Supreme Court had pointed out to the lawyers of the NDC that the two claims could not stand side by side.

Second suit

On June 12, this year, Mr Mark Takyi-Banson instituted a different suit at the apex court in relation to the EC’s decision to use the Ghana Card and the Ghanaian passport as the only identification documents for the upcoming mass voters registration exercise.

In his writ filed against the EC and the A-G, Mr Takyi-Benson is seeking an order directed at the EC to include a birth certificate and the existing voters ID card as evidence of identification in the upcoming mass voter registration exercise.

The plaintiff is also seeking a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45, the register of voters for the conduct and supervision of all public elections and referenda of the 1992 Constitution, the EC’s constitutional and statutory mandate to compile is spent, saving only the power reserved in the commission to revise and expand the register at such periods as may be determined by law.