The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday unanimously gave the Electoral Commission the green light to commence with the compilation of a new Voters Register as scheduled.
The compilation should be in line with CI 126 (2020), the seven member panel presided over by the Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah has decided.
CI 126 excludes the use of existing voters Identity Card and the use of birth certificates.
This implies that one can only register with the Ghana Card issued by the National Identification Authority (NIA), or a passport or two persons serving as guarantors for an applicant.
In the SC’s consequential orders, the Chief Justice said: “By this decision, the EC is hereby directed to commence the compilation of the Voter Registration Exercise as scheduled.
By these decision and by virtue of Article 130 (2) of the Constitution any court in which same or similar action is pending or yet to be filed shall apply the decision rendered by the Supreme Court in these consolidated suits.”
Delivering its judgement, the court upheld reliefs two and three of the writ and dismissed five other reliefs sought in the consolidated writ issued by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and one Mark Tekyi-Banson.
“Relief two is granted subject to the fact that all eligible voters must make themselves available for registration as directed by the Electoral Commission pursuant to the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) regulation, 2020 CI 126.
Relief three: This is granted subject to the Voter Registration card issued to an eligible voters under the prevailing constitutional Instrument CI 126,” the SC said.
The SC reiterated an earlier decision of the court in Abu Ramadan and Nimako case where the court re-emphasized that the EC in exercising its discretion in the discharge of the constitutional mandate in cleaning the Voters Register, “should be deemed as authorized to be acting within the law and the regulation therein, and cannot be faulted even if it is considered that there is more efficient mode or method available.”
Accordingly, the court held further that, the EC in performing its mandate under Article 45 of the Constitution, cannot be compelled to act in a particular manner unless “there is a clear evidence that they have acted unconstitutionally.”
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and one Mark Tekyi-Banson in writs which was later consolidated challenged the EC’s refusal to accept existing voters ID Cards as requirements for the upcoming voters Registration exercise.
On June 24, this year, the SC dismissed an Amicus brief filed by IMANI Ghana and other Civil Society Organizations saying their application to be joined to the suit was not supported by law.
According to the SC, the CSO’s have not been neutral in the matter and they have also introduced new issues in the suit.
The SC noted that reliefs being sought by the CSOs were virtually the same and wondered why counsel for the CSOs did not read them before filing an application for Amicus brief in court.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) had gone to the court challenging the EC over its refusal to accept the old Voters ID cards as part of the requirements in the upcoming Voter Registration Exercise.
Later one Mark Takyi -Banson also filed a similar suit at the Supreme Court, indicating that birth certificates should be accepted as requirements for the new Voters Registration Exercise.
It is the case of the NDC that a new voter’s register will deprive many Ghanaians the right to vote in the polls, if the existing Voters’ ID card is rejected. The EC has however registered its disagreement on the contention of the NDC.
In its suit, the NDC argued that that the EC lacked the power to go ahead with its plans because it can only “compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law”.
The EC among others had argued that the old Voters ID card were obtained under three different Constitutional Instruments: CI 12, CI 72 and CI 91.
In its supplementary statement of case, the EC said it had placed before Parliament a Constitutional Instrument that did not include the use of the existing Voters’ ID Cards.
Mr. Godwin Edudzi Tamaklo, represented the NDC, Mr. Cosmas Apengnuo, represented Banson.
Mr. Justine Amenuvor, represented the EC, Mr. Godfred Yeboah Dame, Deputy Attorney General represented the Attorney-General.
Other Justices on the SC panel are: Jones Dotse, Paul Baffoe Bonnie, Sule Gbadegbe, Samuel K. Marful-Sau, Nene A. Amegatcher and Prof. N. A. Kotey.