District Level Elections In Limbo Over Suit?

The Electoral Commission (EC) has said it has not received any writ seeking to annul the organisation of the District Assembly Elections slated for March 3, 2015. The elections are in limbo following a writ filed by Alexander Afenyo Markins, acting for and on behalf of one Benjamin Eyi Mensah of Winneba.

According to the plaintiff, the EC opened and closed nominations when the Constitutional Instrument (CI) 85 was not in force, thereby rendering the exercise unconstitutional and of no legal effect.

Mr Eyi Mensah averred that he was denied an opportunity to file his nomination and contest in the elections despite meeting all conditions to be registered as a candidate because the EC closed nomination before the maturation of CI 85.

In a writ of summons which joined the Attorney General’s Department to the suit, Mr Mensah is seeking the court to “order the Electoral Commission to reopen nominations to enable the plaintiff and other law-abiding citizens…to file their nomination forms to participate in the upcoming District Assembly Elections.”

Mr Mensah, according to the document, is a fisherman seeking to contest as Assemblyman for the Eyipeh Electoral Area within the Effutu District in the Central Region.

His lawyer, Mr Afenyo Markins, told Joy News it was their duty to ensure that the EC followed the due process in the execution of its mandate. He has dismissed assertions that the action being taken by his client is to scuttle the upcoming elections.

He argued that the EC "performs very sensitive constitutional duty" and must not take things lightly. Mr Afenyo Markins said the EC and the Attorney General had been duly served but refused to argue the merits and demerits of the case on radio.

When asked why his client did not file his nomination within the time frame advertised by the EC, the lawyer said his client "had paid his taxes, filled his forms and was awaiting the passage of the CI to enable him to submit the documents. To his surprise the EC closed nominations on Sunday, December 21 at 5:00 p.m. and on Monday when he went there to submit his forms he was told that he could not do so."

He stated per the Supreme Court ruling in Dr Apaak's case, a CI instrument only comes into force after the mandatory 21 sitting days of Parliament. He said even if Parliament had sat throughout the period the CI was brought to Parliament, it would still not have exhausted the 21-day maturity date.  

He said his client was not seeking to disrupt the elections but rather ensure that  rule of law was respected.

Meanwhile, the EC said it was yet to receive any writ from the plaintiff. The Director of Communications at the EC, Mr Christian Owusu Parry, believes his outfit has not breached any law.