Mahama could have waited for SC interpretation on EC Chair appointment – Ocquaye

A member  of the opposition New Patriotic Party’s Communications team, Mike Ocquaye Jnr., has questioned why President Mahama went ahead to appoint a new Chairperson for the Electoral Commission in spite of a suit that is seeking Supreme Court interpretation on his power to appoint.

President Mahama in accordance with Article 70(2) of the 1992 Constitution, appointed Mrs. Charlotte Osei as Chairperson of the Electoral Commission in a statement issued on Thursday.

A statement signed by Chief of Staff Julius Debrah said Mrs. Osei, who replaces Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan, was until her appointment the Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education.

Prior to the appointment however, the Supreme Court had adjourned to July 14, the hearing of a petition by a journalist seeking clarification on the modalities for the appointment of the head of the EC.

Richard Sky of Citi FM, an Accra-based radio station, filed a writ at the highest court of the land, requesting interpretation of  Article 70 (2) of the 1992 Constitution which says, “The President shall, acting on the advice of the Council of State, appoint the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and other members of the Electoral Commission.”

Article 91(3) of the same Constitution says, “The Council of State may, upon request or on its own initiative, consider and make recommendations on any matter being considered or dealt with by the President, a Minister of State, Parliament or any other authority established by this constitution except that the President, Minister of State, Parliament or other authority shall not be required to act in accordance with any recommendation made by the Council of State under this clause.”

These provisions have however been interpreted differently by different people. The petitioner, Richard Sky, wants a clear cut definition and interpretation on how a new EC Chairman would be appointed.

When the case was called  on June 11, the state, represented by the Deputy Attorney General Dominic Ayine, applied for an extension to file their statement of defence. The court granted the application.

The judges, however, asked the respondents to, within seven days, file their defense and the petitioners to file their response.

The highest court prior to adjournment also asked both the petitioners and the respondents to agree on how the case should proceed.

But even before the court sets a date for a ruling on the matter, the President has appointed a new head for the EC.
Commenting on the development on TV3’s New Day Friday, Mike Ocquaye Junior, who is also a lawyer, said the President could have waited for the outcome of the supreme Court ruling since the state was a key party to the matter.

“Talking about the court and the notice, you have been stopped by law once you have been given notice on a court interpretation on a judicious action you are about to take not to take it. So in other words its operates like an injunction. And it’s not even about when you have replied but once you have been served. But in this case, even the Attorney-General has sent in a defence so even by your action you are not ju8st aware but a part of the process. And I know for sure that if President Mahama had waited for a month or two so that this interpretation comes will not have hurt anybody. But once again, this again in itself speaks about the fact that we are not giving credence to certain procedures. And I am surprised that the AG did not advice the President to hold on or he ignored the advice; but either way, if this becomes a matter don’t say we didn’t tell you” he cautioned.

But a member of Government’s Communication Team on the programme, James Agyenim Boateng was of the firm conviction that the President may not have committed an illegality for making the appointment ahead of the Supreme Court interpretation.
Meanwhile the NPP’s Director of Elections has in an interview with Accra-based Joy FM, endorsed the new chairperson saying her competence was not in doubt. He however said the party still has concerns about the tenure of commission members which still remains indefinite.

The New EC Chair

Mrs. Charity Osei, a lawyer with considerable experience in public service management, institutional reform also has expertise in corporate law, banking, insurance, project financing and public-private partnerships.

The new EC Chairperson holds a Masters in Law (LLM) from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada and a Masters in Business Leadership from the University of South Africa, Pretoria. She obtained an LLB (Hons) from the University of Ghana in 1992.
Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan is retiring from the EC after almost two decades as Chairman of the National Electoral Commission.

By:Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie/

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