Drop District Assembly Adverts Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has ordered the Electoral Commission (EC) to discontinue running adverts on television and other media outlets that the district assembly elections will be held next Tuesday.

This was given by Justice Sule Gbadegbe, one of the seven-member panel of judges hearing a suit filed by Benjamin Eyi Mensah, an aspiring assemblyman in the Effutu District of the Central Region. He had dragged the EC to court over its failure to include him in the upcoming assembly elections.

The court asked James Quarshie Idun, counsel for the EC, whether or not the adverts were still running on air, to which counsel answered in the affirmative; so the judge pointed out, “It is not right.”

The court, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, fell short of giving its verdict on the issue after the EC and counsel for Alex Afenyo Markin had disagreed as to whether or not the CI 85 has the same electoral areas like the LI 83.

While Markin said the CI has more electoral areas which were demarcated in 2012, Quarshie Idun told the court that they are virtually the same except that six orphaned areas had been added to the CI 85. The justices consequently asked for copies to be made available to them by this morning and had the case adjourned to today.

Earlier, counsel for the EC who had filed his supplementary statement of the case, told the court that CI 85 was not the empowering law for the acceptance of nominations as counsel for the plaintiff wanted the court to believe.

According to him, nominations were received in the plaintiff’s district and if he decided to wait he had himself to blame.

Afenyo Markin told the court that the whole essence of the CI 85 was to fortify the conduct of the district assembly elections and stated that the EC could only take a step after the CI 85 was in force, therefore taking a step before the CI was unconstitutional.

The trial judges said it had been the contention of the EC that the whole purpose of the CI was for demarcation which had nothing to do with the nominations.

Plaintiff’s counsel stated that the purpose of laying the CI 85 before parliament for 21 days was to ensure its passage, and noted that “You cannot open nominations when the electoral areas remain a proposal and haven’t gone through the electoral process to become law.”

Mr. Mensah believed that the EC’s decision to open and close nominations at the said date which denied him the opportunity to contest the elections, was in contravention of Article 45(b) and 51 of the 1992 Constitution and wanted the Supreme Court to declare the action unconstitutional.

The aspiring assemblyman, who picked his forms and duly completed them for submission on Monday, December 22, 2014, was informed by both the district electoral officer and her returning officer that the filing of nominations closed on Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 5pm.

Nominations for the district assembly elections were held on Saturday, December 20 and Sunday, December 21 from 8:00am to 12:00 pm and 1:00pm to 5:00pm each day, in 2014, while nominations for the unit committee elections took place on Monday, December 22, 2014 and Tuesday, December 23, 2014.

Other judges in the case include Justices Sophia Akuffo, Julius Ansah, Sophia Adinyera, Jones Dotse, Anin Yeboah and Paul Baffoe-Bonnie.