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Poor legal work by our own lawyer and parliament’s shenanigans let us down in court-Deputy EC chair reveals



Shoddy legal work by its own lawyer has proved costly for Ghana’s Electoral Commission in the Supreme Court. In a case that pitted the commission against a fisherman from the Eyipeh Electoral Area in the central region who had sued the commission for preventing him from filing his nomination to contest in the aforementioned electoral area despite fulfilling all the requirements, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the former. The court’s decision ensured that district elections were not organized on March 3, 2015.

A deputy chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Management Body (EMB), Alhaji Amadu Sulley blamed the board’s own lawyer for the legal humiliation.The Supreme Court upheld the application of the fisherman, Benjamin Eyi Mensah, that the EC was organizing the election with an immature Constitutional Instrument and declared the March 3 elections as unconstitutional.

This compelled the EC to present a new Constitutional Instrument to Parliament for consideration which was used in the September 1 district assembly elections across the nation. According to Mr Mensah, he was denied an opportunity to file his nomination despite meeting all conditions to contest but the EC closed nominations before the maturation of the Constitutional Instrument (CI) 85.

Justice William Atuguba led a panel of judges to rule in favour of the fisherman and declared the election as “unconstitutional.” According to the Supreme Court, the law on which the EC wanted to hold the election, CI 85, is not in force as at the time nominations were closed. “CI 85 cannot take retrospective effect,” Justice Atuguba told EC lawyer Quarshie Idun, when he sought clarity on the ruling.

But explaining the matter to journalists, Alhaji Sulley said the EC lawyer instead of relying on district level elections rather decided to focus on unit committee elections when other options were available to them. “We were a little bit disappointed in him but that is not the matter, because we had other CIs’ that cover us at the time but our lawyer couldn’t present them to the Supreme Court,” Alhaji Sulley lamented.

The lawyer, he explained, decided to rely on CI 68, which was on unit committee elections and not the district level elections. He even failed to prove the case that CI 78 has descriptions explaining the boundaries of constituencies, Alhaji Sulley stressed.
The deputy EC chair also chastised parliament for failing to live up to expectation, noting that before CI 85 which indicates all electoral areas in the country was put before parliament, there was a pre-laying meeting for subsidiary legislation committee chaired by a minority MP, O.B Amoah.

At the time the CI 85 was put before parliament, the house was on the verge of rising and before then the law will have matured. Realizing the exigencies of the law, the former EC chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan sent two deputy commissioners to parliament to confirm whether the CI 85 will mature before the house went on recess and the response from parliament was yes.

The EC, he explained, did all it could but parliamentarians failed the commission and the entire country, leading to the postponement of the 2015 district level elections. “I was taken aback when I listened to O.B Amoah on television, giving explanations contrary to their earlier assurances,” Alhaji Sulley stated.

According to him, after the Supreme Court ruling, the CIs were sent to the Chief Justice.
Explaining the Constitutional Instrument (C.I .91 ) to journalists in Tamale, Alhaji Suley said the C.I 91 governed the conduct of elections such as nominations, printing of ballots, the voting date and the declaration of election results.

The workshop was part of the commission’s efforts to enhance inclusiveness, a project. supported by United State Agency for International Development (USAID).He asked journalists to be responsible in reportage and get themselves acquainted with election language to avoid creating fear and panic.
The deputy commissioner also slammed political parties for not sticking to the truth after Inter-party Advisory Committee meetings. He explained that there were suggestions to allow the media to participate in the meetings but immediately after the meetings party representatives speaks different language to the media.

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