An Accra high court has set February 22 to deliver its decision on whether or not Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings could contest the 2016 election as the Klottey Korle constituency parliamentary candidate on the ticket of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The court, presided over by Justice Kweku Ackah Boafo, fixed the date for the ruling after lawyers for the parties had argued over the legality or otherwise of Dr. Zanetor to contest the election.
Godwin Tamakloe, appearing for Dr. Zanetor, urged the court to dismiss the suit because the plaintiffs – Nii Armah Ashittey, the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency and Nii John Coleman had failed to demonstrate enough capacity to institute the action.
He stated that the two who willingly participated in the primaries, went through vetting and campaigned; but had not shown the court whether the decision of the vetting committee was a violation of their right to participate or were denied any opportunity or had favoured Dr. Zanetor to their disadvantage.
According to Mr Tamakloe, the plaintiffs had again failed to exhaust the party’s internal grievance mechanisms.
Gary Nimako Marfo, lawyer for the plaintiffs among other things, noted that the applicants are card-bearing members of the party who contested in the elections and as such have a huge interest in the party at the constituency level.
He said the vetting committee of the NDC at all material time knew that Dr. Zanetor was not qualified per the legal requirements of the party as well as the 1992 Constitution to contest the election and yet endorsed her nomination.
The two plaintiffs had filed a joint suit challenging Dr Zanetor’s legitimacy to contest this year’s parliamentary election.
Aside Dr. Zanetor – daughter of former President Jerry John Rawlings – the two also sued the NDC and the Electoral Commission (EC) as first and third defendants respectively.
The plaintiffs, who both contested the NDC’s parliamentary election and lost to Dr Zanetor on November 21, last year, are asking the court to declare that her election was unlawful as she is not a registered voter in the national voter register.
It would be recalled that during the NDC’s primaries Zanetor could not vote because her name was not found in the voter register. There were speculations that she is not a registered Ghanaian voter.
The high court, presided over by Justice Patience Mills Tetteh, dismissed the suit indicating that the plaintiffs’ action was an afterthought.
She had argued among others things that the plaintiffs – Joseph Botchway, Jacob Amin, Alhaji Mohammed Mahmoud and Rev. Michael Kwabena Nii Adjei Sowah – were not vigilant enough because the processes leading to the election of Dr. Zanetor did not happen in a day.
The trial judge said the plaintiffs, by coming to the court to seek the annulment of the votes at the constituency, it was an attempt to twist the arms of the court, adding that it was an abuse of the court process.
However, the plaintiffs in the latest suit want the court to declare that Dr. Zanetor’s election as the parliamentary candidate-elect for the constituency was null and void and of no effect as same violated the constitution of the NDC and the rules governing the conduct of the 2016 parliamentary elections.
The lawyer for the two defeated candidates aside cost and legal fees against the defendants, also want the court to order the party to re-run the election between the plaintiffs in accordance with the NDC’s constitution, within one week of the annulment off the election.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson