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28 June 2016

Supreme Court Barks @ EC … We Won’t Allow You to Plunge Ghana Into Chaos

Ghana-Supreme-Court-BuildingThe Supreme Court has at long last warned that it will not sit aloof to allow the lackadaisical attitude of the Electoral Commission (EC) to plunge the country into chaos.

The apex court of the land expressed displeasure over the delay on the part of the EC to comply with the orders it gave on May 5, 2016, during its ruling.

According to the Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, time is fast running out and since the number of people this order is likely to affect is huge, it wants to ensure that the EC complies with the order, especially given the fact that the EC has already indicated that it has what it takes to identify people who registered with the National Health Insurance Scheme cards.

She said, “We should have the interest of the country at heart. Let’s be serious for once”.

The law lords became visibly unhappy when the lawyer for the EC, Thaddeus Sore failed to indicate specific measures they were putting in place to comply with orders the SC gave in its earlier ruling to delete names of voters who registered with the NHIS cards.

Although the EC indicated that, they can carry out the order during the exhibition and challenging mechanism, the five member panel was still not satisfied, saying sitting back without making sure that the order is carried out can bring disorder in the country.

One of the panel members, Justice Sulley Gbadegbe observed that the court will not sit aloof for the EC to do anything to mar the peace the country is currently enjoying.

He said: “As you are standing here, you cannot even tell us the date of the exhibition. Tell us when it is going to be done”.

He lamented that, he was aware of happenings in other countries, so they will not give an order and sit back for the EC to do whatever they like at the detriment of the whole nation.

Justice Aning Yeboah also warned that the EC should stop whatever it is doing currently, since the Court’s order supersedes everything, saying it should be their topmost priority.

The CJ directed the EC to work out the modalities and how it intends to comply with the order, saying “You told us you will be able to procure the names of those who registered with NHIS card.”

She said: “We are working in the interest of Ghana so that our peoples’ hearts can be at rest.”

SC’s Order

The Supreme Court, presided over by the Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, also gave the Electoral Commission (EC) six days to furnish it with the list of names of all those who registered with the NHIS cards, since they have it in their custody.

This came after a heated legal banter, when the SC asked the lawyer for EC, Thaddeus Sore as to measures his clients are taking to comply with the order the highest court of the land gave on May 5, 2016.
The EC told the SC that it was in the process of announcing its plans, but this did not go down well with the panel, which indicated that it (EC) has only five months left to the November 7 elections.

The five member panel, including Justices Anthony A. Benin, Anning Yeboah, Bafoe Bonnie and Sulley Gbadegbe further ordered that the Electoral Commission provide them with a detailed plan (modalities) on how it is going to carry out the deletion and re-registration of the people, who registered with the NHIS cards.

In the third order, the CJ said, the EC has up to June 29 to comply with the SC’s orders, after which it adjourned the case to June 30.

Justice Akamba retires

One of the members of the panel who sat on the substantive Abu Ramadan and Kwame Baffour case, Joseph Akamba, could not sit on the matter again, because he is on retirement.

The Chief Justice indicated that the application came after Justice Akamba retired, so he could not be part of the panel.

So ahead of sittings yesterday, a panel member, Justice Jones Dotse had to recuse himself from the case to bring the number to five.

The Chief Justice explained that, Justice Dotse opted to be recused since the panel has to be odd number and because it was not a review, another member cannot be added.

Background

The apex court on May 5, 2016, asked the Electoral Commission to expunge from the current voters’ register the names of all persons who registered and voted in the 2012 elections, with the NHIS card as a proof of identity.

The ruling followed a suit filed by Abu Ramadan and one Evans Nimako, who in 2014 won a lawsuit that barred the use of NHIS cards for registration.

The two, among other reliefs, wanted the current register declared inappropriate for the November polls.

But, the EC after studying the ruling said its understanding does not suggest the use of any new process to delete the names of those who registered with NHIS cards, since there are already laid down procedures for expunging ineligible names.

The EC’s explanation, however, angered Mr. Ramadan who felt the Commission was disrespecting the explicit orders of the court.

His position was further strengthened when one of the judges who gave the May 5, 2016 ruling, stated categorically that the ruling was clear and unambiguous and that the EC must remove the names of persons who registered with the NHIS card.

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