Court Clears Zanetor


Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings



 

An Accra High Court yesterday threw out a suit filed by some members of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Klottey Korle Constituency seeking to annul the results of the party’s parliamentary primary in the area.

The plaintiffs—Joseph Botchway, Jacob Amin, Alhaji Mohammed Mahmoud and Rev Michael Kwabena Nii Adjei Sowah—had sued the party challenging the parliamentary candidature of Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, who they claimed was not a registered voter.

The four further cited Dr Zanetor, daughter of former President Jerry John Rawlings, as well as the Electoral Commission (EC) as second and third defendants respectively.

Ruling

The court, presided over by Mrs Patience Mills Tetteh, dismissed the suit, indicating that the plaintiffs’ action was an afterthought.

She said the plaintiffs lacked capacity to initiate the action.

Justice Mills Tetteh stated that the processes leading to the election of Dr Zanetor did not happen in a day and that the plaintiffs should have been vigilant.

The trial judge said the plaintiffs’ attempt to annul the votes at the constituency was an attempt to twist the arms of the court, adding that it was an abuse of the court process.

In the view of the judge, the annulment of the votes was a waste of resources, time and would serve no purpose to the people of the constituency who had duly elected Dr Zanetor as their parliamentary candidate.

Justice Mills Tetteh, while dismissing the suit, was emphatic that the court was not only a court of law, but also a court of equity.

The trial judge said the plaintiffs had failed to show how their rights had been threatened or violated by the action of the defendants.

Subpoena

The judgement has left the fate of an order to Charlotte Osei, the Electoral Commissioner, to produce the biometric voter registration records of Dr Zanetor hanging.

The plaintiffs had secured a writ of subpoena to compel the electoral body to furnish the court with the final voters’ register showing the name of the third defendant.


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The 19-point question also wanted the EC boss to specifically tell the court the constituency within which the registration took place; the voter Identity Card Number of Dr Zanetor; biometric finger print out; the type of identification document used in the registration process and whether or not the defendant’s name had been publicly exhibited on any provisional voters’ register.

The plaintiffs further asked the court to compel the EC to make available a copy of the said provisional voters’ register and to explain if the registration was during the limited registration period in 2014.

Arguments

Earlier, Godwin Tamakloe, lawyer for Dr Zanetor, said the plaintiffs were not entitled to the reliefs they sought.

He argued that the action initiated by the four was premature, especially when the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust the internal grievance mechanisms of the party.

Gary Nimako Marfo, lawyer for the aggrieved party members, described as laughable the position of Tamakloe that the plaintiffs had no capacity to mount the action against the defendants.

He said the lawyer was confused as to the status of the plaintiffs.

Mr Nimako Marfo said the elections were guided by clear rules and regulations which did not make any exception to any candidate irrespective of status.

He stated that the doors of the NDC’s internal grievance mechanisms had been shut to the plaintiffs and that the court was the place the plaintiffs could come to seek justice.

Reliefs

The plaintiffs had also wanted the court to declare as unconstitutional, the decision by the NDC to allow Dr Zanetor to contest the parliamentary primaries in the constituency when she was not a registered voter within the meaning of article 94 (1) (a) of the 1992 Constitution.

They also sought an order restraining Dr Zanetor from holding herself out or allowing herself to be held out by the other defendants as the parliamentary candidate of the constituency.

Aside costs, the plaintiffs wanted an order directed at the NDC to re-run the elections in the constituency for the two other contestants in accordance with its constitution and the rules and regulations covering the 2016 parliamentary primaries.

By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson 

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