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Opinions of Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Columnist: Atta Boadi

EC’s humiliation is becoming unbecoming

I was among the journalists who had the opportunity to cover the historic case on Friday, October 28, 2016 involving the presidential hopeful of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, and the Electoral Commission (EC) over the former’s disqualification from this year’s presidential election.

I went to the court (new court building) in Accra early because of the experience I went through on the second day of the adjudication of the case when I had to stand on my two legs in the corridors of the courtroom for almost two hours. According to the security man at the place, the courtrooms can only take about 50 people so if one is unable to get into the room early before the commencement of a case, then that person would have no choice than to hang around the corridors. And that was exactly what happened to me all in name of helping the country’s democracy to grow.

Now back to why I left the comfort of my office to cover such a landmark case. I’ll reserve the kind of frustration I went through with my General Manager at the hands of our own colleagues in the media and some security men at the entrance of the courtroom when we wanted to enter for another time.

Having sat down for almost about forty-five minutes, I heard as usual in court the voice of the court clerk asking us to rise up, an indication that the Judge presiding on the case has arrived, and that everybody in the courtroom must show sign of respect to the Judge by standing up. And since I did want to be charged with contempt I obliged and did exactly that.

The presiding Judge did not waste time after the introduction of both counsels for the Applicant (Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom) and the Respondents (the EC). The whole courtroom which prior to the arrival of the Judge was a bit noisy, all of a sudden became like a cemetery when Justice Eric Kyei Baffour Esq in a rich baritone said: “This is my ruling.”

I quickly looked at Dr. Nduom as he was sandwiched between his adorable wife, Mrs. Yvonne Nduom, and his running mate, Brigitte Dzogbenuku, and imagined what was going through his mind at that moment. As for the EC representatives their backs were facing me however, their demeanor was enough to tell what they were thinking.

In a twenty-one page ruling which lasted for an hour, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour Esq quashed the decision of the EC which disqualified the Applicant (Dr. Nduom) as a candidate for the December 7 presidential election. He subsequently ordered the EC to afford Dr. Nduom the opportunity to make the necessary alteration or amendment to his nomination forms for it to receive same and then “proceed to determine whether the Applicant has met all the criteria laid down by the laws of the Republic.”

From the judgment it was obvious that the EC failed to do the right thing of not adhering to its own rules. Whatever might have compelled the EC to wrongfully disqualify Dr. Nduom is something I still “can’t think far.” In fact, since Mrs. Charlotte Osei was appointed as the EC boss after the retirement of Dr. Kwadwo Afari Djan, she has been in one legal tussle or the other. For instance, just last week before Dr. Nduom floored her in court, the Supreme Court ordered her to give the collation sheets of this year’s presidential election results to the political parties to also verify the results.

Inasmuch as I don’t want to doubt her competence, I think she must be careful with how she takes decisions as some of her indecisions can plunge this country into chaos. The humiliations are becoming too much which some of them could have been avoided if she had exercised some amount of restraint.

What stops her from doing the right thing? I don’t want to believe that she does not listen to advice but if that is the case then she is going to find the seat she is occupying very hot, particularly this year, when the country is preparing for general elections to elect a president and two hundred and seventy-five (275) parliamentarians to run the affairs of this country for the next four years.