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Opinions of Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Columnist: The National Forum

Stubborn EC Punched

the cause of legal blunders
Quarshie Idun a problem

Today we are not having the District Level Elections, DLE as was
advertised on several media platforms by the Electoral Commission, EC
of Ghana. Warnings from Legislators, Lawyers and actors in the
political space went unheeded.

In the words of Mr Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako: "This [suspension of the
elections] is just a classic example of some institutional arrogance
and impunity. It ought not to have come to this point because the EC
was advised ahead of time."

The Supreme Court on Friday February 27, 2015 declared the DLE
unconstitutional, compelling the EC to suspend activities towards the
March 3 polls.

The Court further ordered the EC to re-demarcate electoral boundaries
for the elections, in accordance with CI 85. The EC was in fact
relying on some other Law unknown to the District Level Elections to
conduct the elections.

An application was sent before the Supreme Court by Benjamin Eyi
Mensah who had presented his forms on Monday, December 22, 2014 to be
filed as an Assemblyman aspirant for Efutu in the Central Region but
was told that the filing of nominations closed on Sunday, December 21,
2014 at 5pm.

The aggrieved aspirant then went to the highest court of the land, the
Supreme Court and obtained a favourable judgment.

"The EC's legal team had consistently changed its position. It comes
with some other legislation that it is using to back its preparations;
when it is thrown out it comes up with a different one. Pathetic!" So
said Mr Baako on MultiMedia’s Saturday talk show NewsFile.

Not too long ago in 2013, the whole world witnessed the pathetic
defence put up in court by hired Lawyer for the Commission – Quarshie
Idun (Esq). But for the spirited defence that was mounted by the
defence counsel for President Elect (then) and the party that
sponsored him, NDC namely Tony Lithur (Esq) and Tsatsu Tsikata (Esq)
the petitioners counsel Philip Addison (Esq) would have enjoyed a
jolly ride to victory.

The Electoral Commission of Ghana has no Legal Department and
apparently no in-house lawyers to attend to their legal needs. Thus
the EC has always relied on external solicitors to do their legal
bidding and often times in a lazy manner.

Ridiculing Mr Quarshie Idun, Alhaji Halidu Haruna of the NDC said
“even me, who is not a Lawyer, if I had gone to court with the EC
lawyer on this matter, I would have defeated him…I don’t simply
understand…I certainly think Quarshie Idun did not help.”

“The legal branch did not help the EC…this is basic for the EC to know
the law must mature after 21 days…,” he added.

Instead of immediately setting up a legal department after the Supreme
Court Petition in 2013 and recruiting some young and sharp lawyers to
fill it the EC sat, watched and relied on repealed and non-existent
laws to enter the District Level Elections.

Counsel for the Applicant, Alexander Afenyo Markins(Esq) who is also
the Member of Parliament for Effutu revealed that he had personally
written to the EC on two separate occasions to draw their attention to
the blunder but all that went unheeded.

Elections pundits TNF spoke to were unanimous in stating that “the EC,
as a creature of Law must ensure that it is always operating under the
ambits of the Law.”