Limited registration: EC boss, deputies accused of contempt
The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Jean Mensa, and her two deputies have been dragged to court for contempt of court over the limited voter registration exercise.
The applicant, Precious Ayitah , is urging the Accra High Court to commit Mrs Mensa, Dr Bossman Eric Asare and Samuel Tettey for contempt of court for going ahead with the limited registration exercise in spite of her injunction application seeking to put the exercise on hold.
Ayitah, an 18 year-old, who says she is seeking to register as a voter for the first time filed a human rights application at the High Court with the case that the decision by the EC to conduct the registration only at the commission’s district offices will make it very difficult for her to register.
The move by the EC, she argued, was a fetter on her right to register and vote as enshrined by Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, and therefore the court should protect her human right in accordance with Articles 33 and 140 of the Constitution.
As part of her case, the applicant filed an injunction application seeking an order from the court for EC to halt the registration exercise until the final determination of her substantive case. Counsel for the applicant is Nii Kpakpo Samoa Addo.
In her application for contempt, Ayitah is of the contention that the EC’s decision to proceed with the registration exercise will prejudice her injunction application and directly affect the administration of justice.
“The respondents act putting measures in place to go ahead with the limited registration exercise in its district offices whilst this Court is yet to hear and determine the applicant’s interlocutory injunction application is prejudicial to the outcome of the application before the court, and is calculated to prejudice and overreach the applicant’s originating motion on notice. It is also a direct interference with the due administration of justice,” the applicant stated in her affidavit in support.
It is the contention of the applicant that the move by the EC was contemptuous, and therefore the top officers of the commission should be punished accordingly.
“That the respondents deserve a custodial sentence and nothing less for bringing the administration of justice into disrepute,” the applicant averred.
With regard to the substantive case seeking the enforcement of her human rights, Ayitah says she resided far from the EC’s district office, and therefore did not have the means to move from her house to the registration centre to partake in the exercise.
“I reside at Otsebleku, near Afienya in the Greater Accra Region, which is about 44.3 kilometers from the district office of the Electoral Commission in Prapram, using the Accra-Aflao road and about 37.3km using the Akosombo-Accra road I cannot afford the cost of moving from my residence in Otsebleku to the EC’s district office at Prampram to take part in the limited voter registration exercise,” she said.
It is her case that the ideal thing was for the EC to expand the scope of the exercise by conducting one in her electoral area.
Consequently, the applicant is seeking a declaration from the High Court to the effect that the decision by the EC to conduct the limited voter registration exercise only in its district offices was a violation of her fundamental human rights guaranteed under Articles 23, 33, 42, 45(e), 46, 140 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution.
She is further seeking an order from the court directed to the EC to ‘decentralise and expand the voter registration exercise to make it easy for the applicant to be registered onto the electoral roll.”