The High Court in Accra (General Jurisdiction) will on Monday, July 20, hear a suit filed by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), against the Electoral Commission of Ghana.
The NDC says the decision by the EC to use the campuses of various Senior High Schools as registration centres to register in-school students who qualify to vote, when the schools have not been gazetted for the purpose, is unlawful.
In a writ issued Friday, July 10, 2020, the NDC is asking the court to declare as illegal and wrongful, the registration exercise in the ungazetted schools in accordance with C.I. 91. The party is also seeking a declaration that any such registration of voters including students that take place at any ungazetted and unpublished registration centre including Senior High School campuses is null and void and of no legal effect. As a consequent, the party is also asking the court to order the exclusion of names of persons registered at those illegal centres from the register of voters.
Another relief the NDC seeks, is for the court perpetually restrain the EC from carrying out registration of voters in any Senior High School or place not duly gazetted or published in accordance with C.I. 91 as amended.
It will be recalled that the EC this week announced that it was embarking on a two-day registration of final year and Gold-track SHS students who qualify to vote from their various schools. The two-day exercise began on Friday, July 10, 2020.
However the NDC's argument is that the Electoral Commission enacted the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016, (CI .91), same amended by C.I 126 of 2020 to regulate its conduct of voter registration in accordance with the laws that set up the Commission. The EC consequently published in a Gazette notification in May, 2020, its intention to compile a new register of voters commencing 30th June, 2020 to end 6th August, 2020.
"The Plaintiff states that, the Defendant is enjoined by its Regulations (Regulation 2 especially sub regulation (3)) to publish in a Gazette not less than 21 days before the commencement of the registration exercise all registration centres or polling stations to be used.
"Plaintiff states further that by Regulation 2(3) of C.I. 91 aforesaid, as amended, Plaintiff is entitled to be notified of the said names of the Gazetted registration centres or polling stations for the registration exercise.
"Plaintiff states further that prior to the commencement of the 2020 voter registration exercise, the Defendant published in the Gazette and notified Plaintiff of all intended registration centres and or polling stations to be used.
"Despite the clear provisions of the law already referred to above, Defendant on 7th July, 2020 by a letter invited the Plaintiff for an Inter Party Advisory Council Meeting, the Agenda of which meeting was to inform the Plaintiff and others of the Defendant's intention to commence on Friday, 10th July, 2020 registration of Senior High School students on their school campuses.
"By the said decision of the Defendant, the Defendant has thereby unlawfully designated even SHS campuses that are not gazetted as registration centres or polling stations to be used contrary to the law.
"Plaintiff states that the conduct of the Defendant is unlawful and as an administrative body Defendant could only conduct its said activities in accordance with the law that established and or empowers it so to act in terms of article 23 of the Constitution 1992.
"Plaintiff states further that unless the Court intervenes to stop the Defendant, it is likely to engage in an illegal act whose effect is that registration of voters would take place at illegally designated schools unknown to the Plaintiff during which a lot of fraud and illegality would take place without check and monitoring."