Jean Mensa – Chairperson of EC
An Accra High Court has granted a request by the Electoral Commission (EC) to give it another 12 calendar months to implement the Representation of People Amendment Act (ROPAA).
The EC went back to the court with an application asking for an early extenstion of time after it failed to meet an earlier timelime given by the court.
The implementation would enable Ghanaians living abroad to vote in national elections and referenda.
An Accra High Court (Human Rights Division) on December 17, 2017 ordered the EC to activate the process that would enable Ghanaians living abroad to vote in the country’s elections.
The court said within 12 calendar months – beginning from January 1, 2018 – the EC should lay before parliament the modalities for the implementation of the ROPAA Act so that Ghanaian citizens living abroad can take part in the 2020 elections.
The 12-month period given by the court ended on December 31, 2019, but the EC could not implement the Act and subsequently filed a motion pleading for an extension of time to do so.
Moving the application, Justin Amenuvor, counsel for the EC, told the court that several challenges, including internal issues, affected the activities of the EC after the order was given.
One of the challenges, the EC Chairperson said, include the removal of Charlotte Osei and her two deputies- Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, who were found guilty of six allegations leveled against them by some petitioners.
This, he said, meant that the EC could not convene a meeting, as the EC Chairperson and her two deputies had been dismissed.
He said in the absence of the EC Chair and her deputies, there was nobody to convene the meeting as stipulated by law, let alone preside over such meetings.
He said the EC has been restructured and pleaded for more time to implement the Act.
Sampson Lardy Anyenini, counsel for the plaintiffs, opposed the motion, saying it has no basis in law and that granting it would affect the effective administration of justice.
He said the application was filed out of time and that the EC, in its effort to seek the mercy of the court, has not shown any draft “no matter how poorly done” to show compliance.
He added that the EC was properly constituted as far back as July, last year and that the Commission has organised a referendum for the creation of the six new regions which showed that the EC is not interested in complying with the court’s order.
He, therefore, urged the court to give the EC three months to comply with the order should the court be minded to grant the application.
The court presided over By Justice Nicholas Abodakpi in his ruling observed that the quantum of work to he done on the implementation of the Act has not been determined by the EC.
He said the EC made no complaints about logistics and finds that the implementation of the Act has not been prioritised by the EC.
He however, held that there is nothing to show a calculated attempt by the EC to disobey the orders of the court.
He added that he has seen renewed attempts by the EC to implement the Act.
He therefore granted the application, giving the EC more time to implement the Act.
A cost of GHc8,000.00 was awarded against the EC.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak