The Supreme Court will today, June 11 sit on the opposition National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) legal challenge on the exclusion of the current voters ID card from the Electoral Commission’s (EC) June 30 voter registration exercise.
The Ghana Police Service has therefore deployed armed officers to the court premises to ensure law and order.
The Supreme Court at its last sitting on Thursday, June 4 directed the Electoral Commission to submit its legal justification for seeking to exclude the old voters ID card as a requirement to register for the new voter ID card.
The EC subsequently submitted its legal basis to the court on June 8. Following the submission, the NDC also filed a supplementary statement.
The National Democratic Congress has invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to determine whether or not it is unconstitutional for the EC to reject an existing voters ID as the basis for the upcoming voter registration exercise.
The NDC contends that the decision of the EC to reject an existing voter ID will disenfranchise many Ghanaians which is a violation of Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution and that, per Article 45 of the Constitution, the EC can only compile a voter registration once and periodically, revise it.
On June 9, 2020 Parliament approved the Electoral Commission’s Constitutional Instrument (C.I. 126).
This CI will allow the Commission to compile a new voters’ register with new requirements.
Out of the 198 MPs who were present in the Chamber, 106 from the Majority side voted in favour while 92 Minority members voted against it.
The Minority prior to the voting had argued that the C.I. will disenfranchise many Ghanaians who do not have a passport or Ghana Card – as the new requirements demand – before they can register to vote in the December 2020 elections.
They say the C.I. will spell doom for the country’s democracy and they will hold the Electoral Commission officials pushing for its approval responsible for any future occurrences.
The Electoral Commission has made it clear that for one to be able to register for the new Voters ID, the person requires a passport or a Ghana Card and not a birth certificate or the old Voters ID.
Summary of EC Argument
“In summary, the following are the legal reasons why the 2nd Defendant (EC) is not allowing the existing voter identification cards to be used in the upcoming voter registration exercise” . 1. “The existing voter register which was compiled in 2012 pursuant to CI 72 and revised since by limited registration exercises has been held by this Honourable Court as not being reasonably credible. By implication, the cards issued pursuant to it are also not reasonably credible” the document entitled “Supplementary Statement of case of the 2nd Defendant pursuant to the orders of the Court dated 4th June 2020” said.
The supplementary statement filed by lawyer for the EC, Justin Amenuvor, further stated that, 2. “In respect of the cards issued pursuant to ci 12, the 2nd Defendant (EC) has found that those voter identification cards were issued without any form of identification at all and its ineligibilities, breaches and excesses were imported into the 2012 register pursuant to CI 72 in breach of Article 42 and displacing the credibility of the CI 12 cards”.
The third point of the EC is that “it found a fundamental omission in its training manual and the manner in which the voter registration exercise was carried out in 2012 partly in breach of its own binding CI 72 and also in breach of Article 42 of the constitution” . the fourth point is that “the 2nd Defendant wants a break from the past to remedy all the carried on ineligibilities, excesses and breaches of Article 42 as the existing cards have become fruits of a “poisoned tree”.
“It will be in continuous breach of article 42 of the constitution, to totally disregard this Honourable court’s own judgment to continue using the existing cards and It is in contravention of Section 8(1) of Act 750 (as amended) for the 2nd Defendant to accept the existing voter identification cards as a means of proving citizenship for the compilation of the new register” the Supplementary Statement said.
“Your Lordships, we (EC) submit that what Section 8(1) of Act 750 (as amended) has done is to effectively exclude the existing voter identification card as a form of identification for the purposes of proving citizenship which is the first and foremost qualification required of an individual applying to be registered as a voter. It is the considered opinion of the 2nd defendant (EC) that to accept any form of identification, including the existing voter identification cards, which is not provided for under Section 8(1) Act 750 (as amended) as a means of proving identification for the compilation of the new register will be in contravention of statute” the EC’s. Suoplementary Statement of Case noted in conclusion.
Argument of the NDC
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) through their lawyers have also filed a suppmementary statement of case. In it, they submitted that “the 2 Defendant (EC) has no legal basis to exclude the use of existing voter ID cards for the purposes of registration and that should this Court allow the 2nd Defendant to deny Ghanaian citizens the use of their existing voter ID cards for registration, it would impair the right of citizens to register and vote. That would be a dent on the gains made by this Court in giving life and meaning to Article 42 of the Constitution” the Statement of the NDC signed by lawyer Godwin Tamakloe said.
“We end by relying on the poignant statement by Kpegah JSC in Apaloo versus Electoral Commission supra at page 410 where His Lordship
stated:” Thus, consistent with our belief in and adherence to the
principle of universal adult suffrage, the right to register and vote is guaranteed every citizen of Ghana who is eighteen years or above and not of unsound mind. In the case of Tehn-Addy v Electoral Commissioner [1996-97] SCGLR 589, the plaintiff was denied the chance to register as a voter, and he brought an action claiming that the Electoral Commission had violated the Constitution, 1992. This court unanimously held that every sane Ghanaian citizen of eighteen years and above had the right under article 42 of the Constitution, 1992 to be registered as a voter. And that the constitutional right of voting was indispensable in the enhancement of the democratic
process and it could not be denied in the absence of a constitutional provision to that effect”. “The function of the 2″ Defendant under article 45(e) is to undertake programmes for the expansion of the registration of voters and not to undermine or place unnecessary impediments on registration. The 2 Defendant’s constitutional function includes making it easier to register to vote and not to place impediments on the enjoyment of that fundamental right to be registered and o vote” the Statement further said.
“In the circumstances, we invite this Honourable Court not to be frightened by the spectre of ghosts, minors and foreigners on the register. For ghosts may be able to receive salaries when on the payroll but cannot appear to vote when on the voter roll and foreigners and minors can be removed from the roll of voters if the 2nd Defendant is diligent and does its work well” the NDC Statement said in conclusion.