Flag bearers of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom respectively are gearing up to sue the Electoral Commission (EC) in respect of their disqualification from contesting in the December 7 presidential election.
The Charlotte Osei-led EC on Monday disqualified 13 out of the 17 aspirants who filed nominations to contest in the 2016 general elections, provoking an instant anger among those affected.
Others are Dr Edward Nasigiri Mahama of the People’s National Congress (PNC); Nana Agyenim Boateng, popularly known as Gyataba, United Front Party (UFP); Kofi Akpaloo, Independent People’s Party (IPP); Kwabena Adjei, Reformed Democratic Party (RDP); Henry Lartey, Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and Richard Nixon Tetteh, Unity Development System Party (UDSP).
The rest are Thomas Nuako Ward-Brew, Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP) and independent presidential aspirant, Alfred Kwame Asiedu Walker.
The fate of Akwasi Addai Odike of the United Progressive Party (UPP) hangs in the balance pending the determination of a legal suit against his candidature.
Even though they have all questioned the decision, Mrs Rawlings and Dr Nduom have moved a step further, threatening legal action if they are not reinstated.
Mrs Rawlings yesterday caused her lawyer, Ace Anan Ankomah of Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah Chambers, to write to the Chairperson of the commission, asking the EC to rescind its decision.
In a letter dated October 11, 2016, on the issue of the EC’s claim that it is ‘unable to accept Mrs Rawlings’ nomination because the number of subscribers to her forms did not meet the requirements of Regulation 7(2) (b) of C1 94 etc,” Mr Ankomah noted, “Our client disagrees with you and states that you have no power to proceed in this manner.”
He quoted Regulation 9 of the Public Elections Regulation, 2016 (CI 94) which states that “The particulars of the candidate or the persons subscribing to the nomination are not as required by law or the nomination paper is not subscribed as required by law” to back his claim, pointing out that “a nomination is not automatically considered as ‘invalid.”
Instead, he indicated, “The Regulation demands that you [EC] ‘shall’ give an affected candidate an opportunity to make amendments and any alterations necessary ‘within the stipulated nomination period.”
He emphasized that “you cannot wait several days after statutory period for making the necessary changes has expired, before announcing that you are unable to accept nomination forms presented to and received by you.”
Aside that, he also claimed that even though the decision of the EC was required to have been taken [and communicated to the affected persons] within seven days, it waited for 10 days after nominations had closed before making the issue public.
On the issue of the EC’s claim that one of the subscribers, who endorsed Konadu’s forms was not a validly registered voter and illegally registered twice, the lawyer argued, “Although Section 27 of the Representation of the People’s Act, 1992 (PNDCL 284) provides that a person who registers twice may be disqualified from voting, there must have been a commitment of the offence, and then a term of imprisonment imposed before a disqualification can take effect.”
Thus, Mr Ace Ankomah insisted that “Clearly a disqualification cannot precede or even run concurrently with a trial, conviction and imprisonment for the offence. Indeed under Section 44(3) of the Interpretation Act, 2009 (Act 792), not even the date of release from prison should count towards counting the period of the disqualification.”
He also talked about the fact that Section 43 of the Representation of the People’s Act which requires that the EC maintains a record of persons ‘disqualified from being registered as voters [or] voting at an election’ also requires separately that where the person properly disqualified is already a registered voter, the commission is required to ‘delete that person’s name from the register.’
Counsel for the NDP’s presidential aspirant therefore insisted that “Before a person’s name is either entered unto the record under Section 43(1) or deleted from the register under Section 43(1), the EC must have evidence of the conviction and sentence required under Section 27.”
In effect, Mrs Rawlings believes that the EC and its boss acted illegally and unreasonably and has accordingly asked the commission to rescind its decision and reinstate her and the running mate on the list of candidates for the 2016 presidential election within 24 hours.
Failure to do so, counsel for the two hinted, “We have our clients’ further instructions to institute legal proceedings against you to compel you [EC] to meet the aforesaid demands without further notice or recourse to you [EC].”
At a press conference at the PPP’s headquarters yesterday, flag bearer Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom also indicated his preparedness to go to court if the EC decides not to give him an opportunity to amend errors detected in his nomination forms.
He said the EC disqualified him based on merely clerical errors for which reason he asked for an opportunity to meet EC boss, Charlotte Osei, for only five minutes to resolve the matter amicably.
“All I ask for is just five minutes with Mrs Charlotte Osei and the whole issue will be resolved. If not, then we have no other option than to go to court,” he said.
“We are not here to quarrel with anybody. We are not here to cause confusion anyway. “We know our rights and we will sit and stand but we will do so in a peaceful manner so that when the Ghanaian people encounter our character and the content that we have, they will know that ‘truly these are the people that can take this nation forward,” he stated before a crowd of party people, who thronged the PPP’s Asylum Down headquarters to protest against the EC’s decision.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu