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NDC presidential primary on hold

BY: Mabel Aku Baneseh
Johnson Asiedu Nketiah
Johnson Asiedu Nketiah

The High Court in Accra on Tuesday placed an injunction on the upcoming National Democratic Congress (NDC) primary to elect a flag bearer for the 2020 general election.

The court, presided over by Mrs Justice Georgina Mensah-Datsa, granted the injunction after the lawyer for the applicants, Mr Christopher King, had moved a motion for stay of the election until their grievances were determined.

Mr Albdallah Issah, a branch Communications Manager, and James Kabu Nartey-Oman, a branch Secretary in the Bortianor/Ngleshie Amanfro Constituency of the NDC, have sued the NDC, as an entity, over some of its decisions, including the eligibility criteria for applicants.

 Moving the application for the grant of the interim injunction at the court’s sitting in Accra yesterday Mr King said the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable damage if the court did not grant their prayer.

The court directed that “the defendant/respondent, their committees, agents, private servants or authorised bodies and all persons acting through them be restrained from proceeding with the NDC 2019 presidential election in the manner outlined in the guidelines as amended or at all until the final determination of the suit”.

The injunction will last for 10 days, after which the defendants will be served on notice to show why it should not be extended.

The court order, dated December 18, 2018, a copy of which is available to the Daily Graphic, was signed by a Deputy Registrar of the High Court, Mr Frank Brobbey.

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Substantive case

The writ, which was issued yesterday, December 18, 2018, is seeking a number of reliefs, including a declaration that the published guidelines for the conduct of the presidential election by the NDC in 2019 are null and void and ultra vires, according to the NDC Constitution.

The applicants are also seeking a declaration that the introduction of certain eligibility criteria as conditions precedent for presidential candidates, as part of the said guidelines, provokes the letter and spirit of the NDC Constitution and is, therefore, unlawful.

They also want the court to declare that the procedure adopted by the NDC via the National Executive Committee (NEC) in the preparation and presentation of the guidelines, together with the amendments, without prior consultation of the National Council of Elders, was unlawful.

A further declaration that the usurpation of the powers and responsibilities of the National Executive Committee by the Functional Executive Committee in respect of the guidelines for the conduct of the presidential elections was unconstitutional.

They are also praying the court for an order directing the NDC to conduct its 2019 presidential election in a free, fair, transparent and inclusive manner, in accordance with the party’s constitution and the canonal tenets of free and fair elections.

They also want the court to restrain the NDC, its committees and agents from proceeding with the 2019 presidential election in the manner outlined in the said published guidelines and amendment until the final determination of the suit.

Case of plaintiffs

A statement of claim filed on the plaintiffs’ behalf by their lawyer said the guidelines for the conduct of the presidential election ought to have been made in accordance with Article 42 (f) of the NDC constitution, which provides that “the National Executive Committee, in consultation with the National Council of Elders, shall issue guidelines on the election of a presidential candidate based on the provisions of this article”.

According to the plaintiffs, the guidelines which were released on November 29, 2018 via the National Executive Committee were not based on the provisions of Article 42 of the NDC constitution and for that reason the action was ultra vires.

They are also arguing that the criteria that a contestant must have been a paid-up member for at least 10 years and a further evidence of the contestant’s contribution to the party over the period are not in tandem with the NDC constitution.

They are also submitting that the filing fee imposed on the presidential aspirants is so high that it amounts to a bar and fetter on some of the aspirants who are unable to pay what they term an “unreasonable and exorbitant” filing fee.

The plaintiffs are of the view that the amount is so outrageous and in defiance of financial decency, to the extent that “no honest and incorruptible presidential aspirant can possibly consider it reasonable or could afford to pay or both”.

The plaintiffs are submitting that unless the court intervenes to grant the reliefs being sought, the NDC will continue in defiance of its constitution and perpetrate grave electoral injustice on the plaintiffs and the majority of the membership of the party.

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