An Accra High Court has postponed the Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA) contempt suit by some five Ghanaians in the Diaspora against the Electoral Commission (EC) to March 19.
This follows the absence of the Commissioners, who were supposed to appear before the court today, with the exception of the Chair, Jean Mensa.
The five plaintiffs, Dr Kofi Boateng, Agyenim Boateng, Nellie Kemevor, Obed Danquah, and Christian Sillim, have prayed the court to commit the EC for not complying with an order to operationalise ROPAA by laying before Parliament a Constitutional Instrument (CI) that would set out the modalities for the implementation of the law.
The order was part of a judgement delivered by the High Court, presided over by Mr. Justice Anthony Yeboah, on December 18, 2017.
The application filed by the Council for the five, Samson Lardy Anyenini, stated that the EC had “failed, refused or neglected to respect and comply” the orders by the Court despite the numerous letters addressed to the EC.
Lawyer Anyenini, in an interview with Ghanaweb, however, believes the ‘no show’ by the Commissioners was on purpose although the court bailiffs will trace them and get them served.
“So today was the contempt case against the Electoral Commissioners. Each of them. Unfortunately, there could not be good business in court because the court bailiffs have only been successful as it appear on the record to serve only the Chairperson. So the direction of the court is very simple – those who have not been served and I know some of them are dodging, the court bailiffs will trace them and get them served.” He added, “So we will wait. When the bailiffs are done, they will obviously appoint their lawyers, they will bring their affidavit in opposition and explain why they should not be committed for contempt.”
Jean Mensa, in her application, said she should not be committed to prison for disobeying the orders of the judgement defending that she was not the EC Chair at the time suit was filed two years ago.
The five Ghanaians sued the electoral management body on the basis that it had “gone to sleep” and refused to implement Act 699, 11 years after it was passed.
The “deliberate refusal” or inaction of the EC to implement the act, they argued, had robbed them of the chance to vote in three general elections (2008, 2012 and 2016) and other public elections.
They also contended that it was discriminatory for the EC to continue to register a category of Ghanaian citizens studying abroad or working in Ghana’s missions/embassies abroad to vote in public elections and referenda without including them.
In the judgement, which upheld the case of the five Ghanaians, the court held that the EC was deliberately dragging its feet and had made its mind not to implement Act 699 any time soon.
It was the court’s view that the EC failed to give any cogent reasons for the delay, describing the delay as “grievous, unreasonable and unjustifiable’’.