To communicate better,
the Executive Director of the of Ghana Center for Democratic Development
(CDD-Ghana), H. Kwasi Prempeh, has urged the Supreme Court to be more concise
and unambiguous in their ruling in court cases as the Supreme Court is for all
Ghanaians and not lawyers.
His statement comes in the aftermath of yesterday’s
ruling in the case of the NDC versus the Electoral
Commission (EC) which appears to
have been interpreted differently by the parties involved after the court made
Both parties, have
claimed victory, following the ruling presided by the Chief Justice, Anin
Other judges on the panel included; Justices
Jones Dotse, Paul Baffoe Bonnie, Sule Gbagegbe, Samuel K. Marful-Sau, Nene
Amegatcher, and Professor Ashie Kotey.
In a Facebook post, the
law Professor said, “The Supreme Court of Ghana is the supreme court for
Ghanaians, all Ghanaians, not for lawyers. Judges must learn to write and speak
in Plain English!” He continued, “I have sighted the written orders on the reliefs.
They could have been a lot clearer and aimed at the general population, at
least in summary.”
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) in May
sued the EC at the Supreme Court over its decision to compile a new voters’ register
ahead of the 2020 elections.
The opposition party stated their stance against
the EC’s decision, arguing that the exercise was unnecessary and costly. The EC
being adamant, indicated its resolve to proceed with its decision.
Following this, the NDC sought an order from the
court to stop the EC from compiling a new voters register and an alternative
order declaring as illegal the decision of the electoral body not to consider
the old voter ID card as proof of citizenship for registering.
But the Apex court, gave them a directive to
choose on which of their two reliefs they wanted a decision on.
It is for this reason the NDC dropped the case
which questions the power of the EC to compile a new register.
The Supreme Court in a unanimous decision,
merged the two cases against the EC’s voters registration exercise. As a
private citizen, Mark Takyi-Banso was also seeking the same relief as the NDC.
In yesterday’s ruling, two reliefs out of the
eight reliefs were granted to the NDC by the Apex court. These are the reliefs
two and three. The two and three states “This relief is granted subject to the
fact that all eligible voters must make themselves available for registration
as directed by EC pursuant to public elections (Registration of voters) (Amendments)
Regulations, 202 C.I 126.”
“The relief is granted subject to the voter
registration card issued to an eligible voter under the prevailing
constitutional Instrument C.I 126.
Upon this ruling the NDC’s General Secretary,
Johnson Asiedu Nketia, told Journalists at the Apex Court that they feel
He said, “We feel vindicated because the court
itself, in an earlier ruling, has clearly stated that the possession of an
existing voter ID card means that the holder is a citizen of Ghana, who is
qualified to be registered and exercise his or her powers and, so, the court
couldn’t have gone back on its own earlier ruling and it did also admit that
the right to vote, once it accrues to a person, cannot be taken back in a
whimsical and capricious manner in which the Electoral Commissionsought to do”.
“We just came out of the Supreme Court and the
court has just delivered a verdict, which has granted our request for the
inclusion of the existing voter card as a breeder document for the compilation
of the register and I think that we’re most grateful”.
“We think that this is the most substantive
issue for which we came to court, so, we’ll get back to the office and we’ll
address a full-blown press conference on the consequential matters arising”, he
This comment has generated some confusion as
both parties (The plaintiff and defendant) are claiming victory.
The plaintiff believes the court ruled that old
voters ID can be used for the compilation of the new register while the
defendant argues that the court was clear that electoral an independent body
and can only be directed by the court if they go contrary to the very laws that
brought their existence.
But the court was very clear in its order for
the EC to go ahead with the compilation of the new voters register.
However, there has been some social media
reaction on this ruling as many believe the court was not clear on its ruling.
Based on the different interpretation of this
ruling, the Executive Director of CDD-Ghana, said the Judges must learn to
write and speak in plain English.
Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh had earlier described
as “illogical”, reasons cited by the Supreme Court to reject an amicus curiae
brief in the case against the compilation of a new voters’ register.
four civil society groups had gone to the apex court seeking to be granted
audience in the case to volunteer relevant information to help in the
determination of the case.
But their request was dismissed by the Supreme Court
Wednesday on grounds that the think-tank groups which have been opposing the
move to re-register Ghanaians for the next election, were not neutral on the
issue and will not add any relevant information other than what is before them.
member of the seven-member panel of justices, Baffoe Bonnie, is reported to
have said the court was aware of what the CSOs had been up to and also taken
judicial notice of their position on the matter.
judge is said to have claimed that the groups were only coming to support a
side, as he remarked “you are not neutral”.
the court’s decision has shocked the law scholar who holds contrary view.
is the first time in my life as a constitutional law scholar and lawyer,
trained in the Anglo-American legal tradition that I am learning that in order to
be allowed permission to file an amicus curiae brief, one must be “neutral” or
disinterested in the case in question,” he stated.
facebook post after the ruling, the man who is also the Executive Director of
CDD-Ghana said the position of the court is opposite what is known in law.
is the exact opposite of everything I know about amicus briefs. Typically, one
who is not otherwise a party to a case before an appellate or apex court must
demonstrate a strong “interest” in the matter in order to be allowed the
opportunity to submit an amicus brief,” he explained.
He wondered why a person who is “disinterested
or neutral” will even bother to file an amicus brief in a case if the ruling of
the Supreme Court is anything to go by.
In his view, the view taken by the Supreme
Court on the instant matter turns Article 2 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution on its
“…in Ghana, where Article 2 of the
Constitution entitles any citizen, natural or artificial, to bring a
constitutional case before the Supreme Court, the idea that, once a certain
party has already brought a matter, the outcome of which binds all citizens equally,
no other person may file an amicus in the matter unless they are “neutral”
(whatever that means) is simply illogical and, indeed, turns Article 2 on its
head,” he stated.
He added: “That means, any person with a
lawyer can just race to the Court to file an article 2 case, essentially for
all of us (which is what a case with constitutional consequence means in
effect), and simply by being first to file a case essentially prevent all other
equally interested citizens from submitting an amicus brief in the same
‘Neutrality of amicus a myth’
A law activist, Stephen Kwaku Asare in
agreeing with Prof. Prempeh said “neutrality of the amicus is at best a myth
and should play no role in the decision to accept or reject his brief”.
He said he, however, agrees with the Chief
Justice who chaired the panel, on the view that an amicus must be aware of the
issues being litigated by the parties to offer the Court useful advice.
“Amicus’s admission that it had not read the
parties’ pleadings was fatal,” he held.