Thank you, Abu Ramadan, Thank you Nana Bediatuo, Thank you, Evans Nimako
Perhaps the largest of the many bubbles that have been boiling over to engulf Election 2016 in a sea of contested outcome and potential violence is about to be deflated for the good of all Ghanaians. And for that, I ask all Ghanaians to say a very big thank you to the trio; Abu Ramadan, Nana Bediatuo Asante and Evans Nimako.
The decision of the two plaintiffs, Abu Ramadan & Evans Nimako to instruct their counsel, Nana Bediatuo Asante, to go back to the Supreme Court of Ghana to “ask the court to give further direction on its ruling”, must be applauded and lauded by all Ghanaians irrespective of political allegiance or personal opinion as to the true meaning of the SC orders to the Electoral Commission in its ruling of May 5, 2016.
For six weeks now, both plaintiffs and defendants, and assorted legal luminaries and ‘rented crowds’ have argued about what it was the SC actually ordered the EC to do in respect of cleaning up the 2016 voters register. Contrary to the pervading public conception, there has been unanimity amongst the protagonists about the instruction to delete the names of ineligible voters. However, there has been very noisy disagreement about the processes to be adopted to delete the ineligible voters.
The prospect of getting further and better particulars on the process from the SC is to be welcome and supported without equivocation by every Ghanaian living everywhere. I am extremely glad that my seemingly ‘toono’ headline-grabbing call for the SC “to clarify your decision on voters register” of May 10, is set to become real, albeit five wasted weeks after. The response to my call was a torrent of abuse typified by one Ernest Amoako who wrote “Nonsense, what further clarity do u want “ I hope you will swallow your impertinent words, Ernest, and join me in saying Ayekoo to the plaintiffs and their counsel.
A further reason for my joy at the recent development has to do with my frustration with the eternal dithering and competing for attempts to tell Ghanaians what process the Supreme Court ordered the EC to adopt in cleansing the Register. I was so agitated by the amount of time and energy being dispensed on the latest Ghanaian perchance for endless debates masquerading as sound advice whilst the clock ticked on towards the November 7 or December 7 Election Date. I donned my engineer’s hat two weeks ago in search of a solution to this seemingly intractable impasse.
Indeed, on Tuesday night, as Richard Sky spoke to Abu Ramadan on Eyewitness News, I was huddled in a conversation with my uncle, Justice S. A. Brobbey, former SC member and distinguished legal brain, on the status of my intended action to seek clarification from the SC in the supreme interest of Oman Ghana. I had consulted him more than a week earlier to seek a second opinion on the prospect of my intended action being entertained by the SC.
It was his opinion that the intended action would not succeed irrespective of its seemingly attractive public interest angle. His view was corroborated by that of a younger but very knowledgeable lawyer who was so honest with me that he simply raised several notches higher in my already considerable esteem of his talents and more especially his total honesty of conduct.
“One thing I don’t do is to be in a haste to take a potential client’s cash, against the background of less than 50% certainty or predictable success” That was his very elegant response to my offer to engage him in prosecuting my intent to seek clarification from the SC – “I commend you highly for seeking to play a critical role to keep our State from falling apart during and after the elections.”
The advice my nephew and learned counsel gave me was “I have carefully studied the authorities to firmly anchor a non – party’s locus as you seek presently, and I am more than convinced the SC is not minded to depart from this position regardless of how one crafts such a process to assert public interest and whatever special circumstance.” This was the advice my uncle also reinforced as I sat listening to Abu Ramadan et al. more sober reaction to the SC’s orders.
To show you how desperate I was to get closure on this matter, I called Nana Bediatuo to plead with him to go and seek clarification from the SC in the supreme interest of Ghana. I reached him in New York and he promised a chat on his return. Well, I guess he is back in town, on account of the proposed action having been filed already, and I am happy to ‘forgive’ him for his little act of disrespect to his senior brother, which I deem pardonable as long as he was spending his valuable time preparing the suit.
On May 19, 2016, the EC issued its response to the SC’s orders by welcoming the directives of the court as meaning “that the Electoral Commission has a duty to compile a credible register, and in so doing, must act within the remits of the Constitution and applicable law; and that the existing law has made ample and sufficient provisions for ineligible names to be deleted during the exhibition of the provisional register but such deletions must be in accordance with the existing law”
The EC pointedly stated in its release, “the SC had once again rejected the so-called ‘validation’ process sought by the Plaintiffs “without statutory authority and in “carrying out its functions, the Electoral Commission cannot employ non-statutory remedies”. For persons who registered with NHIA cards, such registrations were lawful at the time of registration, and the subsequent declaration of unconstitutionality in the earlier Abu Ramadan case does not ‘automatically render them void’. Such a position would have the effect of disenfranchising the persons affected.
So as far as I am concerned, the issues before the SC for clarification are: 1) What are the processes under the applicable laws of Ghana it wants the EC to adopt to delete the names of ineligible persons from the electoral register: and 2) What is the true meaning and direction of Justice Dotse’s recent pronouncement “that the ruling was clear and unambiguous and that the EC must remove the names of persons who registered with the NHIS card”?
I salute Abu Ramadan, Nana Bediatuo and Evans Nimako for your action. Over to you the SC for a swift, unequivocal and waffle-free clarification of your orders of May 5 2016, which for the record were: “ a)That the Electoral Commission takes steps immediately to delete or as is popularly known ‘clean” the current register of voters to comply with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution, and applicable laws of Ghana; b) that any person whose name is deleted from the register of voters by the Electoral Commission pursuant to order (a) above be given the opportunity to register under the law.
Please don’t ask me my view on who is right. Let us all wait for the SC’s further directions on its ruling. I hope it’s all clear to all of us this once and for all.
By Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby
The writer is the Executive Director of Ghana Institute of Public Policy Options (GIPPO) and a 2000 presidential candidate.