EC can't be judges in their own court – Law lecturer

A private legal practitioner, Yaw Oppong, is questioning the Electoral Commission’s [EC] decision to subject itself to the five member committee collating views on whether the country’s voters’ register should be cleaned or replaced.

He told Bridget Otoo on TV3’s News @ 10 Thursday night that it would be “strange and alien” for the EC to mount the podium today [Friday] at the ongoing forum to state its case or stance on the voters’ register issue which has taken centre-stage ahead of next year’s general elections.

Mr. Oppong contends that the EC, which sets up the committee chaired to gather views and make recommendations for consideration, cannot be a player in the processes and at the same time be the final arbiter.

That, he argued, was in breach of arbitration procedure because the Commission cannot be a player in the process and at the same time be the final arbiter on the same issue, noting “the EC would have been judges in their own court”

“Whatever recommendation that will be made [by the committee], will be subject to your [EC’s] own final decision, how can that be justified even in an ordinary arbitration system, not to talk about a very sensitive matter like this,” he questioned.

“How can the EC come and defend itself and then be the final arbiter in the matter? How can they [EC] be party to it [the forum] tomorrow and then finally be the arbiter,” he asked rhetorically.

Mr. Oppong who is also a law lecturer at the University of Ghana said the EC should have specifically responded to the New Patriotic Party’s petition on the matter rather than the current process asking people to respond to the issues.

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“When the petition was first filed by the NPP, it was the duty of the Commission to have responded to them specifically and if they were dissatisfied, there were other remedies in law that those dissatisfied, complainant or petitioners, could have followed and not set up a public committee, look into the matters, you yourself become a player and become the final decision maker,” he stated.

He said the approach by the EC on the issue cannot be appropriate, and that the EC should have used its internal mechanism, employ other external institutions as was done during the presidential election petition when an audit firm was employed to audit the disputed election results.

By: Stephen Kwabena Effah||Ghana
Twitter: @steviekgh