You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 05 24Article 441395

Opinions of Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Columnist: Amos Blessing Amorse

Abu Ramadan & Anor v EC & AG: An Appraisal

By way of preliminary comment, let me reproduce what I told a friend who called to asked for my opinion on the judgment, “…the judgment is not ambiguous as those commenting on it want us to believe. Those commenting on it have made it look so. There is nothing in the judgment that needs clarification. If you listen to them, you’ll cringe in awe and say that, either they have not read the judgment or they have read it but want to pollute the minds of unsuspecting Ghanaians to paint the Supreme Court and Electoral Commission in dark colors.”

The EC’s position on those who registered with NHI cards is useful for this appraisal. “For persons who registered with NHIA cards, such registrations were lawful at the time of registration, and the subsequent declaration of unconstitutionality in the earlier Abu Ramadan case, does not ‘automatically render them void’. Such a position according to the Supreme Court “would have the effect of disenfranchising the persons affected. Such registrations should only be deleted by means of processes established under the law”.

The question that one needs to ask is whether there is/are existing processes for removing ineligible voters from the voter roll? If yes, what are these processes? It is important at this juncture to state that the Supreme Court in its judgment noted that the EC CANNOT use any NEW process to delete names of those who registered with NHI cards other than the processes outlined in CI 91.

This position therefore defeats the argument by some lawyers that there is no procedure for deleting names of persons who registered with NHI cards. Indeed, the existing law, CI91, under regulations 23(c) and (d) introduces the processes for deleting ineligible persons from the register. It state as follows:

(a) “a person entitled to be registered as a voter may OBJECT as set out in Form Seven of the Schedule to a person whose name appears on the provisional register of voters on the ground that the person is not qualified to be registered as a voter;

(d) an officer of the Commission may OBJECT as set out in Form Seven of the Schedule to a person whose name appears on the provisional register of voters on the ground that that person is no qualified to be registered as voter.”

Regulation 25(1) of CI91 provides that the above process can only be activated during the exhibition process, “a person who has right to have the particulars including the name of that person to be included in the provisional register or to OBJECT to the inclusion of the name or the omission of any name from the register may on the publication of the provisional register, submit a COMPLAINT as set out in Form Six or Form Seven of the schedule as the case may be to the exhibition officer in respect of any matter relating to the particulars of a person included or omitted in the provisional register.”

The EC shall ONLY proceed to delete names of ineligible persons on the voter roll after exhausting the procedure outlined under regulation 26 of CI91 which provides as follows:

(1) A district officer of the commission shall, within seven days from the date of receipt of the list of claims and objections from the exhibition officer, submit the complaints and objections to the District Registration Review Officer for determination, and give notice to each person

(a) Against whom an objection has been raised of the objection, and the reasons for the objection, and

(b) Who had made a claim to attend the hearing presided by the District Registration Review Officer for determination of the objection or claim.

(6) The District Registration Review Officer shall, in writing on the same day of making a decision or as soon as practicable, INFORM the commission, the person who is making the claim and the person to whom the objection relates of the decision of that District Registration Review Officer.

(8) The Commission shall give effect to the decision of the District Registration Review Officer within fourteen days after the person had been informed unless the commission has received certified notification of the appeal to the High Court under sub-regulation (8).

The EC in its official response to the recent Supreme Court judgment which has generated so much confusion only reiterated the procedure as outlined in CI91 which was recognized by the apex court as ‘ample and sufficient’ to remove the names of ineligible and deceased persons from the register.

By way of emphasis, it is not stated anywhere in CI91 that the EC can unilaterally delete names of ineligible persons from the register for which reason the SC could not have instructed it to do same.

For those bent on getting the names of persons who registered with NHI cards impugn from the register, they must wait until the register is exhibited they then they challenge the eligibility of those persons, provided they have evidence to prove that the affected persons indeed registered with NHI cards.

The Supreme Court was mindful not to provoke endless legitimation when it stated in the judgment those who registered with the NHI cards be given the opportunity to prove their nationality and be reregistered. With this, the SC was referring to regulation 3 of CI91 which provides that “a person applies for registration as a voter shall provide as evidence of identification one of the following:

(a) A passport

(b) A driver’s license

(c) A national identification card;

(d) An existing voter identification card; or

(e) one voter registration identification guarantee form as set out in Form One of the Schedule that has been completed and signed by two registered voters

From the above, I shudder to say that anybody who activates the processes set out in regulations 23, 25 and 26 to have those who registered with NHI cards deleted from the register is most likely bound to fail. Granted that the affected persons are unable to produce passport, driver’s license, or national identification card when challenged, they may rely on regulation 3 (e) which is the easy way out.

Shalom!

Amos Blessing Amorse