The High Court in Accra with General Jurisdiction has adjourned to October, the case filed by the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), challenging the registration exercise conducted by the Electoral Commission (EC) in Senior High Schools.
The court presided over by Justice E.K. Mensah is scheduled to hear the case on 26th October 202O after the legal vacation.
EC decided to move its mobile registration teams to Senior High Schools to register students who have attained the age of 18 in the ongoing voter registration exercise.
The country’s election management body explained that the exercise, which took place for two days, was to enable the students to register without traveling to their communities to do so since they were in schools under strict COVID-19 safety protocols.
However, the NDC sued the Commission over what it described as illegal registration of SHS students.
The main opposition party argued that the Senior High Schools have not been gazetted for the registration.
Consequently, it asked the court to nullify the three sets of voter registrations already conducted at Schools by the EC.
However, the EC had not served both the Court and Counsel for the NDC with its statement of case and response to the application for an injunction at the time of the hearing yesterday.
Even though the Court made provision for the case to be heard during the legal vacation, lawyers for the EC said they could not sit during the period as the Commission will be busy preparing for the 2020 general election.
A Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Peter Boamah Otokunor told Citi News after the court hearing that, the EC has adopted an unfortunate delay tactic to frustrate the case.
“It is rather unfortunate that the Electoral Commission is playing delay tactics. They know exactly what the rudiments of the courts are. They know the courts will be going on vacation and by the time they resume, the exercise would have ended but what they do not know is that the issues we have raised if you think you are swerving it, you will not be able to swerve it. We are coming back to the court on the 26th of October but we are very sure that by then they would have finished the exercise and we are hopeful that even though they would’ve finished exercise, we can still take action of the issues we’ve raised,” he added.
NDC filed the suit on July 10, 2020, seeking four reliefs together with orders the court shall deem fit, as well as punitive costs.
The party is asking the court for:
-A declaration that it is illegal and wrongful for the Defendant (Electoral Commission) to conduct registration at any place including campuses of a Senior High School which was not contained in a Gazette and notification in accordance with C.I. 91.
-A declaration that any such registration of voters including students that take place at any ungazetted and unpublished registration centre including Senior High School campuses is null and void and of no legal effect.
-An order excluding names of persons registered at those illegal centres from the register of voters.
-An order for perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant whether by itself, officers, agents, or any other functionary personnel from carrying out registration of voters in any Senior High School or place not duly gazette or published in accordance with C.I. 91 as amended.
According to the NDC, the EC enacted the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016, (CI .91), same amended by C.I 126 of 2020 to regulate its conduct of voter registration in accordance with the laws that set the Commission up.
Consequently, the EC published in a Gazette notification sometime in May, 2020, its intention to compile a new register of voters commencing 30th June, 2020 to end 6th August, 2020.