Supreme Court Halts EC’s Limited Voter Registration Exercise

Afari-GyanThe Supreme Court has ordered the Electoral Commission (EC) to suspend its intended limited voter registration exercise scheduled for commencement today, pending the determination of a suit brought before it, restraining it from undertaking the exercise.

The court has also ordered a stop to adverts of the said exercise, running in the various media platforms.

This was after the plaintiffs, Mr. Abu Ramadan, the National Youth Organiser of the People’s National Convention (PNC) and Evans Nimako, a farmer, had prayed the court to issue an interlocutory injunction to retrain the EC from going ahead with the registration.

Mr. Justice Jones Dotse took strong exception to the attitude of the EC for deliberately running the adverts in the media, in spite of the fact that the issue was before the Supreme Court, the highest court of the land, and warned, that act of impunity in the Ghanaian politics must stop.

At the last sitting, the court gave the parties in the case a 24-hour ultimatum to file their statement of case before hearing of the substantive matter could proceed.

It was the submission of the plaintiffs that the use of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards to register for a voter card was unconstitutional, void, and incongruous to Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, which states that one must be a Ghanaian, attained the minimum voting age of 18 and be of sound mind.

This is contrary to Constitutional Instrument (CI) 72, enacted by Parliament which provides that the NHIS cards could be used as forms of identification to secure a voter’s card.

When hearing began on Thursday at exactly 11:30 am, the court, presided over by her Ladyship, Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood, after listening to short submissions by the lawyers asked both plaintiffs and defendants to file memorandum of agreed cases.

Nana Asante Bediuto, lawyer for the plaintiffs initially prayed the court to strike out the names of registered voters who used the NHIS cards to register as eligible voters.

However, the presiding judge, Mrs. Wood drew his attention to the fact the court could not grant his application, unless the parties affected are given hearing opportunity.

Filing his oral submission, Nana Bediuto averred that their claim was ground on three issues; whether or not upon true and proper interpretation of Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, a person who applied to register as a voter must first prove that his/her qualification was unconstitutional.

The other reliefs, were whether or not upon true and proper interpretation of Article 42, the use of NHIS cards as a proof of qualification to register as a voter, pursuant to order 13 (D) of CI 72 was unconstitutional, and whether or not the use of existing voter identification card as a proof of qualification to register as a voter, pursuant to order 13 (E) of CI 72will be tantamount to an applicant registering more than once and therefore unconstitutional.

Responding, Mr. James Quashie Idun, lawyer for the EC, maintained that though the NHIS card was not the best , it was a form of an identity, praying that the court dismissed both suits.

He said most Ghanaians did not hold either National Identification cards or passports, which had proved the best form of identification.

The case wss adjourned to July 30.

By Malik Sullemana

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