Ghana’s Supreme Court has given its judgment on the brouhaha over the compilation of a new Voters Register by the Electoral Commission (EC) for the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
But, there is confusion over exactly what the judgment means.
While the General-Secretary of the ruling Nationa Democratic Congress, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, insists that the ruling makes it clear that the EC should accept the old voter identity card as a prerequisite for the upcoming registration exercise, others were of the opinion that the reliefs sought by the NDC were thrown out per the judgment.
“The court granted the NDC’s relief two and three but in giving the order it said the exercise should take place in compliance with CL 91 and 126 as amended. That’s what’s causing the confusion now,” Joy News’ Joseph Ackah-Blay explained.
However, Joseph Ackah-Blay reports that the Supreme Court has in a unanimous decision ruled that the EC has the power to compile a new register.
Private citizen, Mark Takyi-Banson and the opposition NDC filed the case in court asking that it stops the EC from compiling the register or allow the use of the birth certificate and voters identity card by prospective voters as proof of identification
The EC’s arguments
The Commission in its legal arguments said the existing voter register, which was compiled in 2012 and revised since by limited exercises, has been held by the apex court as not being reasonably credible.
The EC makes references to the cases of Abu Ramadan and Another v. the EC and another and Kwasi Danso Acheampong v the EC and other.
It argues the two cases raised questions about the existing voters register with one holding that using the National Health Insurance card to get on the register was contrary to law.
The Commission says this means “the credibility of the register compiled pursuant to C.I. remains in doubt save the registrations done with the voter identification cards before the coming into effect of C.I. 72.”
The commission further says not using the voters’ identity card and birth certificate will afford it an opportunity to compile a credible register.
Deputy AG speaks
Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, urged the apex court not to impede the EC’s quest to obey the law. He says the EC has admitted to training its officers not to obey a constitutional instrument and that was enough evidence to support the view that the current card cannot be used in the registration exercise.
The seven-member panel that heard the case was presided over by Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah. Other panel members were Justices Jones Dotse, Paul Baffoe Bonnie, Sule Gbagegbe, Samuel K. Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher, and Professor Ashie Kotey.
Decision and orders
The court in its decision held that the EC is an independent body and will only be directed by the court if it acts contrary to law.
There was disagreement between the NDC and the AG’s office over whether or not the court allowed the use of the existing voters’ identity card.
The NDC General Secretary told pressmen that the court had ruled in the party’s favour.
The AG’s office, however, holds a contrary view.
Lawyers for both parties are currently at the court premises waiting for the written order of the court for clarity.
Read full ruling for clarity: