The Electoral Commission (EC) yesterday, killed what the New Patriotic Party (NPP) thought saw as victory, when the Supreme Court in a ruling ordered some cleanup of the electoral roll, when a Deputy Commissioner of the EC, Georgina Opoku Amankwah, revealed that measures had long been put in place to do what the Court ordered.
A Supreme Court ruling yesterday, instructed the election management body to immediately clean the voters’ register before the 2016 general elections.
In what has been described as herculean task, the court held that names of people who registered with the National Health Insurance Card, must be deleted from the register, but be afforded the opportunity to register again, if they qualify.
The ruling by the seven-member Supreme Court panel chaired by the Chief Justice, Georgina Wood, follows a suit filed by former People’s National Convention (PNC) Youth Organiser, Abu Ramada, challenging the validity of the current voters register.
Ramadan contends that, the current register is compromised and cannot be used for the 2016 general elections.
He wanted the court to declare the register null and void and order a validation of all registered voters.
Reacting to the ruling, however, Ms. Opoku Amankwah, said even though the commission was yet to obtain a copy of the ruling, measures are underway to comply with the order of the court.
“The EC is yet to get a copy of the ruling to study. So we will obtain one and study the details but the good thing is that, we have already put in place a program and doing what the ruling is asking,” she told the media.
The NPP pressure group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA), had claimed it feels vindicated by the Supreme court ruling on the voters’ register.
Abu Ramada’s brother in-law, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, had stated that his party; the New Patriotic Party (NPP) feels vindicated, following a Supreme Court ruling that the Electoral Commission, should take steps to clean the electoral roll.
Speaking to a gathering of students at the Accra Polytechnic yesterday, Dr Bawumia, hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling and called on the EC to expedite action to sanitise the voter’s register ahead of the November polls.
“We have been saying that in fact, the voter’s register is not a credible voter’s register. We have said this for a long time and so we expect the Electoral Commission to very quickly and immediately put together the modalities for addressing this issue and removing the names of all the categories specified by the Supreme Court,” Dr Bawumia stressed.
However, the former deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana, believes the best way to go is to conduct the general elections with a fresh roll.
“Whichever way you look at it, if we are going to do this in the most efficient way we probably will need a new register given the millions of people who registered with the National Health Insurance Card,” Nana Akufo-Addo’s running mate said.
The Supreme Court in the case of Abu Ramadan & Another v. the Electoral Commission & the Attorney General, heard the applicants seeking the nullification of the current voters’ register and other consequential orders.
The court’s ruling are that:
1. The current voters’ register is not credible for the purposes of elections because persons who had previously registered using National Health Insurance Cards as proof of eligibility are on the roll, as well as names of deceased persons and minors.
2. The register, in its entirety, is not invalid since it was compiled under law at the time of its compilation.
3. The Electoral Commission must take immediate steps to clean the current voters’ registered.
4. It must also make provisions for the re-registration of eligible persons whose names would have otherwise been deleted through the cleaning process.
5. The Electoral Commission is an independent body created under the law, whose actions are not subject to the direction of any external controls.
6. However, acts of the Commission which may be considered as in excess of the powers granted them by the laws of Ghana are subject to judicial review.
7. The Commission is not bound by the decisions, or inputs, of the citizenry, or any groups as the case may be.
In the light of this judgement, therefore, the EC, must clean up the voters’ register, albeit under its own rules and procedures. The ruling also reinforces the independence of the EC.