Alex Afenyo-Markin , the lawyer who got the Supreme Court to cancel the March 3, 2015 District Assembly Elections, has accused the Electoral Commission (EC) of willfully causing financial loss to the State and challenged the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to open investigations into the commission’s conduct and prosecute anyone found culpable.
‘The Electoral Commission was given all the necessary warning that it was doing something unconstitutional, but they ignored with arrogance and adopted a ‘ yen tie obia’ attitude that has not only caused the several aspirants some huge money but the State as well.
‘It is clear that the cancellation of the District Assembly Elections across the country just a few days to the polls would cause the State some huge financial losses and this should be blamed on the Electoral Commission and whoever in that Commission wilfully decided to do the wrong thing that has led to this financial loss.
‘The AG and other agencies of State would be condoning an improper conduct if we allow this to pass and simply dip our hands into State coffers to use the taxpayer’s money to organise another District Assembly Elections at a later date when those who caused us this avoidable loss are not penalised in anyway.
‘The AG ought to look into the matter and make recommendations to prevent a future recurrence, else this wrong attitude can be replayed in 2016 or future elections,’ Mr Afenyo-Markin told DAILY GUIDE .
Originally, the District Assembly Elections had been slated for tomorrow, Tuesday March 3, and the EC was ready for it when the Supreme Court last Friday ruled that it should halt the process because it was acting illegally and in sharp contravention of the Constitution.
Hon Afenyo-Markin, also the MP for Effutu, argued before the court that Article 51 of the 1992 Constitution makes it mandatory for District Assembly Elections to be backed by a Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) but currently, there was no C.I. backing the elections slated for March 3.
He said though the EC had laid a C.I. 85 before Parliament, it could only come into effect legally and lawfully after 21 sitting days from when it was laid before Parliament and there was even a possibility that Parliament could have annulled the C.I. 85.
The Supreme Court, after listening to arguments from both sides and juxtaposing them by the law, ordered the Electoral Commission to stop the upcoming elections and start all over again with a legally passed and accepted C.I.
The ruling means the Electoral Commission would have to reopen nominations and any Ghanaian who was expecting the maturity of C.I. 85 to file his or her nomination can now have the opportunity to file and contest the elections.
Afenyo-Markin went to court after his client, Benjamin Eyi Mensah, a fisherman based in Winneba in the Central Region, was disallowed by the EC from submitting his nomination forms to contest for the Assembly Elections on the ground that nominations had closed.
‘Meanwhile by then the C.I. 85 was still before Parliament and the 21 days had not elapsed. We wrote several letters to the Electoral Commission pleading with them and pointing out the illegality in what they were doing but none of the letters even got replied.
‘We spoke to their officials but they would not mind us and we had no choice but to seek interpretation of the law at the Courts and I am happy the rule of law works.
‘The Judges had a short time to look into the matter and I am glad they saw the seriousness in this matter and acted in a way that has reignited confidence in the judiciary,’ Afenyo-Markin added.
He also suggested to the Electoral Commission to be more open to the public and have a unit for hearing the complaints of ordinary Ghanaians.
‘An example is like the case of the National Democratic Party (NDP) in 2012. The EC would not allow the party to file to contest elections because it insisted it was closing nominations and would not even give it a single day to go through its papers properly. Sometimes, a little bit of listening and dialogue could resolve matters and make everyone happy but when we adopt institutional arrogance and close our ears to all other suggestions and ideas, it creates problems,’ he added.
The Commission has refused to grant public interviews after last Friday’s ruling aside issuing a statement which read in part: “In view of the Supreme Court’s decision in the matter of Benjamin Eyi Mensah v The Electoral Commission, on Friday 27th February 2015, with regard to the maturity of C.I. 85, the District Level Elections and all activities connected with them have been suspended forthwith until further notice.”
By Halifax Ansah-Addo (Twitter: @HalifaxAnsahAdd)
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