Apology to our readers
The editorial team of The Herald, wishes to unreservedly apologize to our readers for the last Friday’s placement of the wrong story under the banner story headlined “INFORMATION MINISTER TAKES OVER EC’s COMMUNICATIONS JOB”.
It was inadvertent and we wish to sincerely apologize for the error.
The Electoral Commission’s (EC) struggle and conflicting positions in attempt to convince majority of Ghanaians on the need for a new voters’ register, has forced the Minister of Information to literarily takeover the Public Relations job of the commission, questioning why people were jubilating over a Supreme Court directive to the EC, to justify its exclusion of the existing voters’ ID cards.
Responding to last Thursday’s orders, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said the Supreme Court order to the EC was merely meant to uphold the principle of fair hearing, and does not in any way, suggest how the final judgment will be determined.
“I don’t know why anyone would jubilate over that and as I have explained, you cannot come to a judgment on a matter without hearing from the other side” the Ofoase Ayirebi legislator, has been quoted as saying on the stern directive by the apex court.
Per the orders of the seven-member Supreme Court panel presided over by the Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah, the EC, must provide the legal basis by today, June 8, 2020 for hearing to resume on Thursday, June 11, 2020 , in the suit filed by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) challenging the upcoming compilation of new voters register by the EC.
Various officials at the EC, including Chairperson, Jean Adukwei Mensah, her Deputy, Dr Eric Bossman Asare, the Director of General Electoral Service, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, as well as the Head of Communications at EC, Sylvia Annor, have been at pains pushing the need for a new voters’ register into the minds of Ghanaians, despite stiff opposition from civil society organizations, political parties among others.
The Supreme Court last Thursday, directed the EC to furnish it with the legal basis for excluding the current voters’ ID card as a form of identification from the list of required documents for getting unto the controversial new voters roll during the upcoming mass voters registration exercise.
This was after the NDC in March 2020, sued the Commission over attempts by the Commission to compile a new voters’ register for the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.
But the Information Minister in an interview with CITI FM, insisted that the Supreme Court order, was only procedural.
“The basic principle in law called ‘Audi alteram partem’ says you cannot pronounce judgment on a matter without hearing from the other side. So if the Supreme Court is going to make a determination on an application that has been made about something that the Electoral Commission is doing, it only stands to reason that they will request to hear from the EC, so that they are informed before they come to a certain ruling or judgment and I think anybody who knows how the legal system works in this country will actually appreciate that this is how the Supreme Court has gone by such issues.”
Mr Oppong Nkrumah, who is also a lawyer was heard saying “I don’t know why anyone would jubilate over that and as I have explained, you cannot come to a judgment on a matter without hearing from the other side. So if party A goes to the Supreme Court that party B is doing something which he considers untoward, the Supreme Court will have to hear from party B and therefore will have to request party B to address it properly whether on legal or public policy grounds. It is not my understanding that this is the final determination of the matter. My understanding is that the Supreme Court has requested of the Electoral Commission to furnish it with its legal grounds on which it is proceeding because the EC is doing something a party that feels aggrieved has applied to the Supreme Court and before it makes a decision must ask the other party to provide the legal basis for doing so.”
The NDC invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution with a case that it was unconstitutional for the EC to reject an existing voters ID as a prerequisite for the upcoming voter registration exercise.
It is the contention of the NDC that it is unconstitutional for the EC to reject an existing voter ID, as it will disenfranchise many Ghanaians ,which is a violation of Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution.
The NDC further argues that per Article 45 of the 1992 Constitution, the EC can only compile voters’ register once and periodically revise it.
The NDC in its case is also praying the court to declare as illegal the decision of the EC, not to use the old voter ID cards as registration proof in the compilation of the new register.
The party claimed that the decision is without any justification is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and contrary to article 296 of the 1992 Constitution, adding that the EC, lacks the power to go ahead with its plans, because it can only “compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law”.
According to the writ invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the NDC among other things, demanded a “declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution, 2nd Defendant [the EC] has the constitutional power to, and can, compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law.
Accordingly, 2nd Defendant, can only revise the existing register of voters, and lacks the power to prepare a fresh register of voters, for the conduct of the December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.”
Other members on the panel that will decide the case are; Justices Jones Dotse, Paul Baffoe Bonnie, Sule Gbagegbe, Samuel K Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher, and Professor Ashie Kotey.