The 13 presidential candidates, who were disqualified after the Electoral Commission (EC) said it found anomalies on the presidential nomination forms, are racing against time to correct the anomalies as directed by the Supreme Court yesterday.
The main anomaly, which the EC used to disqualified them was that some voters, who endorsed the nomination forms, were either not qualify voters or that they endorsed more than one presidential candidate contrary to Public Regulations on Elections (C.I 94).
The difficulty is that some of these voters are found in far away districts and affected presidential candidates would have to look for new voters in those districts, transport them to Accra to sign the forms which should be submitted to the EC by 5pm today.
In a unanimous decision read by presiding judge Justice Sophia Adinyira, the Supreme Court ordered the EC to extend the nomination period from yesterday to the close of work today, November 8, 2016, to allow all the disqualified candidates to correct their errors.
The court directed the EC to invite the interested parties and all the presidential candidates, who were able to submit their nomination papers by the close of the nomination day on September 30, 2016 and were disqualified without a hearing and give them hearing, within the extended period.
According to the ruling, the EC should, in appropriate cases, afford candidates, the opportunity to comply with regulation 9 (2) of the Public Elections Regulations, 2016 (C.I.94).
The judges also ordered a suspension of all lawsuits challenging the EC’s disqualifications of flagbearers, for all those affected to amend the errors on their forms on the same issue of having been denied a hearing to enable the EC to carry out its mandate in line with these orders.
Extension too short - Ayikoi Otoo
Reacting to the ruling, lead Counsel for the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Nii Ayikoi Otoo, expressed fears that the new deadline for the submission of nomination forms may not be enough for the affected political parties and their aspirants.
“Today is Monday; and the close of day tomorrow [Tuesday], at 5:00pm, may not suit everybody; so I thought perhaps Wednesday would have been better so that they have two days to do the corrections and close of day Wednesday, they can present them.
But unfortunately, the Supreme Court is saying that once the election is fixed for the 7th of December, it is better we work hard to ensure that we work within the period,” he explained.
Mr. Ayikoi Otoo, however, said the period for the correction would be enough for the PPP noting that “we have only one anomaly which we will deal with.”
Supreme Court’s judgement is victory for democracy - Thaudeus Sory
Speaking to journalists minutes after the judgement, Lawyer for the EC, Thaudeus Sory, described the judgement as “ victory for democracy.”
He explained that, the EC came to the court on three grounds; error of law, wrongful assumption of jurisdiction and excess of jurisdiction, adding that though the court dismissed the EC’s second ground for filing the suit it upheld the third one.
“It is a victory for democracy. The court was very categorical in its orders. We came here on three grounds, error of law, wrongful assumption of jurisdiction and excess of jurisdiction and the court agreed with us that while there was evidence that there was an error of law in the case of the record, it did not go to the court’s jurisdiction so it would not quash it. It dismissed our second grounds but upheld our third ground. “
The candidates were disqualified after the EC said it found anomalies on the presidential nomination forms.
The propriety of the anomalies is at the heart several court suits challenging the decision.
The main anomaly was that some voters who endorsed the nomination forms were either not qualified voters or that they endorsed more than one presidential candidate contrary to Public Regulations on Elections (C.I 94).
But the candidates argued there was no way they could have known a voter was not qualified nor were they aware that any of the prescribed 432 endorsers had signed up for the other candidate.
While the EC described the anomalies as statutory offence punishable by disqualification, several of the 12 disqualified presidential candidates have called it clerical errors that can be easily corrected.
The EC rejected Dr. Nduom’s nomination claiming the number of subscribers to his forms did not meet the requirements of Regulation 7 (2) (b) of CI 94 [the law regulating the conduct of the 2016 elections].
The Commission said one of his (Dr. Nduom’s) subscribers, endorsed the form with different signatures in both portions of the nomination form, raising questions as to the legitimacy of one or both signatures.
But lawyers of the PPP argued that, the EC did not give them the opportunity to correct the errors on the nomination forms.
The court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, subsequently ordered the Commission to give the PPP the chance to correct the anomalies on the nomination forms of its Flagbearer, and subsequently decide whether to accept him in the race or not.
But the EC said it disgareed with the ruling, hence it’s decision to go to the Supreme Court.
An Accra High Court on Friday ordered the EC to afford Mr Hassan Ayariga, presidential hopeful for All Peoples Congress (APC), the opportunity to amend the anomalies within the limited time.
The court presided over by Mrs Barbara Tetteh Charwey in giving her judgment, cautioned people, who put themselves up for presidential candidates, to exhibit high sense of diligence and qualities.
It also said the EC must also hasten slowly in its implementation of the law.
The People’s National Convention (PNC) flagbearer, Edward Mahama; Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, flagbearer of the National Democratic Party (NDP); presidential candidate of Independent People’s Party (IPP), Kofi Percival Akpaloo, Alfred Kwame Asiedu claims, Independent Candidate have all sued the EC after they were disqualified from the presidential race last month.
Source: The Finder
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