Since The National Forum (TNF) broke the story of multiple names in the limited registration exercise last week, all attempts by various radio stations to seek clarification on the nagging issue from the Electoral Commission (EC) have proved futile.
The EC declined comments on the subject which is giving rise to deeper suspicion about the commitment of the Commission to fight wrongdoing as far as the electoral process is concerned.
Following the limited voter registration recently conducted, it was clear that some registrants would have questions to answer if the Electoral Commission decided to follow the Law guiding the exercise.
Contrary to their estimation, TNF had gathered from a very credible source close to the EC that several names appeared in multiple terms which had ballooned the figures of the new register, giving rise to the need for efficient DEDUPLICATION.
Multiple registration is an offence under Constitutional Instrument (C.I.72), which guides registration of voters.
Regulation 27 of the C.I states in part that anybody who “registers as a voter more than once either at the same registration centre or at different registration centres, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than five hundred penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than two years or to both.”
The EC has not yet been able to present a single offender to the prosecuting Authority or the Police to make a case against any of those who violated this law in 2012 in order to bring them to justice at least to deter others from doing same. Fears are being expressed over the tendency for people to keep breaking the law and not being punished.
“Human beings would naturally offend the law especially when they realize its enforcement is weak,” a prosecutor who pleaded anonymity pointed out, advising that “let the EC handover all offending cases to the state departments with prosecutorial power to do their job. All the EC is required to do is to provide the needed evidence to show committal of the offence and the rest would follow”.
Related to this, Presiding officers, who the EC indicated were temporary staff, violated Article 49 of the constitution by failing to sign the results sheets in the 2012 elections as discovered during the famous 2012 presidential petition hearing.
A political pundit has suggested that should the EC be bold to submit to the Ghana Police Service or the Attorney General’s department, the entire list of people suspected to have violated the electoral laws in one way or the other for possible prosecution, the Commission would be sending a very strong signal to erring citizens and further deter others from committing same or similar offences in future.
“It is the attitude of the EC not to submit the list of offenders to the Prosecuting Authorities, in part, that has given rise to increases in electoral offences recorded after every election and registration process,” the prosecutor noted.
No prosecuting authority can on their initiate action against anyone on electoral offences unless the EC arms them with the list of persons and the particular breaches they engage in.
It is uncertain whether the EC would do that or not.
However, election watchers TNF spoke to believe that “if we are to rid our electoral process of breaches often times sponsored or encouraged, then the law must be seen to be applied. Without that a lot more people would not see any reason to stay straight and strict to the laws governing the electoral process”
Source: The Nationa Forum
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