A move by the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana to register eligible final year students who have attained the age of 18 and above in all Senior High Schools (SHS) that do not have polling stations (registration centres) in the ongoing voters registration exercise has incurred the wrath of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The umbrella family not happy with the development has proceeded to the law court to seek for redress in what it described as illegal act on the part of the election management body.
Statement of claim
In their statement of claim, the NDC is praying to High Court to among other things:
A declaration that it is illegal and wrongful for the EC to conduct registration at any place including campuses of Senior High Schools which was not contained in a Gazette and notification in accordance with C.I.91;
A declaration that any such registration of voters including students that takes place at any ungazetted and unpublished registration centre including Senior High School campuses is null and void and of no legal effect;
An order excluding names of persons registered at those centres from the register of voters;
An order for perpetual injunction restraining the EC whether by itself, officers, agents, or any other functionary personnel from carrying out registration of voters in any Senior High School or place not duly gazetted or published in accordance with C.I. 91 as amended;
Any other order(s) the court shall deem fit to make as well as punitive costs.
In the view of the NDC, under the statue setting up the EC, the election management body is required to enact constitutional instruments to regulate its functions and therefore in pursuance of such functions, the EC enacted the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016, (C.I.91), same amended by C.I.126 of 2020 to regulate its conduct of voters registration.
It also argued that the EC published in a gazette notification sometime in May 2020 its intention to compile a new register of voters commencing June 30, 2020 and end on August 6, 2020.
Further to that, the EC is enjoined by its Regulations, Regulation 2, especially, sub regulation (3) to publish in a gazette not less than 21 days before the commencement of the registration exercise in all registration centres or polling stations for the registration exercise.
In addition to that, Regulation 2(3) of C.I.91 as amended, the NDC is entitled to be notified of the said names of the gazette registration centres or polling stations for the registration exercise.
“Prior to the commencement of the 2020 voter registration exercise, the EC published in the gazette and notified Plaintiff of all intended registration centres and or polling stations to be used. Despite the clear provisions of the law already referred to, the EC on 7th July, 2020, by a letter invited the NDC for an Inter Party Advisory Council Meeting, the agenda of which meeting was to inform the NDC and others of its intention to commence on Friday, 10th July, 2020 registration of Senior High School students on their school campuses. By the said decision of the EC, it has thereby unlawfully designated even SHS campuses that are not gazette as registration centres or polling stations to be used contrary to the law”, noted the NDC in its writ of summons filed at an Accra High Court by David K. Ametefe of Boahene Asare & Associates law firm on Friday, July 10, 2020.
According to the NDC, the conduct of the EC is unlawful and as an administrative body, it could only conduct its said activities in accordance with the law that established and or empowers it so to act in terms of article 23 of the 1992 Constitution.
To the umbrella family, unless the court intervenes to stop the EC, it is likely to engage in an illegal act “whose effect is that registration of voters would take place at illegally designated schools unknown to them (NDC) during which a lot of fraud and illegality would take place without check and monitoring.
The Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana on Thursday, July 9, 2020, announced that it will embark on a two-day voter’s registration exercise of final year Senior High School students.
The exercise, according to the election management body, will commence on Friday, July 10, 2020 and ends on Saturday, July 11, 2020.
Registration officials were therefore expected to be deployed nationwide to all Senior High Schools that do not have polling stations (registration centres) within the school and register eligible students who have attained the age of 18 and above.
The exercise, forms part of the ongoing voters ID registration exercise.
According to the EC, the decision was reached at an emergency Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting held in Accra on July 9, 2020.
The move comes after it received a letter from the Ghana Education Service asking how the Commission will find ways of registering the final year students.
After consultation with the GES, the EC called an emergency IPAC meeting to brief the political parties on its plan to register the students in the school.
The EC noted that though the registration centres have not been gazetted it will find a way of dealing with that issue.
However, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), politicoghana.com understands, strongly objected to the EC’s decision, but the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) represented by its General Secretary, John Boadu agreed with the election management body after listening to its cogent reasons.
Story written by: Stephen Odoi-Larbi