Court to rule on suit against President

The Supreme Court has set June 26, 2015, to hear the case brought before it challenging the powers of the President, John Mahama, to appoint the new Chairman of the Electoral Commission.

The plaintiff, Richard Della Sky, a journalist with the Accra-based Citi FM who initiated the action, is praying the Supreme Court to interpret a provision of the Constitution

When the case was called for hearing yesterday, Dr. Dominic Ayine Akurutinga, Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, prayed the court for time to enable them to file their defence.

“My Lord, we pray for an adjournment to enable us file our defence. We move in terms of the motion paper and the supporting affidavit,” he prayed.

His prayer was not challenged by counsel for the plaintiff, Alexander Afenyo Markins.

Richard Sky is seeking a declaration that “Upon true and proper interpretation of Article 70 (2) of the 1992 Constitution, the provisions of Article 91(3) of the 1992 Constitution have no bearing and inapplicable to the special role of the Council of State in the appointment of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, his Deputies and other Commissioners.”

Applicant also requires a declaration that “Upon true and proper interpretation of Article 70(2) of the 1992 Constitution together with Article 91 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, it is the Council of State that has the constitutional mandate to initiate the process of appointment of the Chairman, the Deputies and other Commissioners of the Electoral Commission; and such advice on suitable candidate(s) to be appointed constitutionally is binding on the President.”

He is further asking for an order “Directing the exact procedures to be followed by the Council of State either suo motto or by prompting by the President in such appointments in the light of Article 70(2) of the 1992 Constitution,” as well as “any other order or orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit.”

According to the applicant, Article 70 (2) of the 1992 Constitution says, “The President shall, acting on the advice of the Council of State, appoint the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and other members of the Electoral Commission,” while Article 91(3) of the same Constitution says, “The Council of State may, upon request or on its own initiative, consider and make recommendations on any matter being considered or dealt with by the President, a Minister of State, Parliament or any other authority established by this Constitution except that the President, Minister of State, Parliament or other authority, shall not be required to act in accordance with any recommendation made by the Council of State under this clause.”

The writ is praying the apex court “To give judicial definition of the process for appointing a replacement for incumbent EC Chief, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan,” who retires on June 18, 2015.

According to the applicant: “Where there are divergent views on how the Chairman, a Deputy Chairman or a Commissioner is to be appointed, one needs not wait for one to be appointed unconstitutionally before running to the Supreme Court for an interpretation and a declaration to that effect.”

The applicant said any directive given by the court on the mode of appointment of the EC Chairman should be binding on all stakeholders and become a guiding precedent.

“It would also put to rest the unending political debate on how the successor of Dr Afari-Gyan is to be appointed,” he said.

By Malik Sullemana & Felix Akaho Jnr.    

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