An Accra high court has thrown out a motion filed by lawyers of Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, daughter of former President Jerry John Rawlings and Klottey Korle Constituency parliamentary candidate for the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Dr Zanetor’s lawyers, Godwin Edudzie Tamakloe and Sanja Morrison, were praying the court to dismiss the entire case challenging her candidacy brought against her by Nii Armah Ashittey, the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency and Nii John Coleman, a contestant in the party’s last year’s parliamentary primary.
The court, presided over by Justice Kweku Ackah-Boafo, said Nii Armah Ashittey contested the election and as a result, his capacity to mount the action could not be questioned.
According to the judge, the plaintiffs have the right to initiate the action.
The court also held that it was not clothed with the authority to interpret issues relating to the Constitution.
Justice Ackah-Boafo explained that rather it is the Supreme Court that has the jurisdiction and not the high court, adding that the high court is only to look at the merit of the case.
The court said both plaintiffs have the capacity to challenge the eligibility of Zanetor to run in the primary, and that the plaintiffs have exhausted the party’s mechanisms for dispute resolution.
The motion was however dismissed while the substantive case was adjourned until March 3.
This means the Electoral Commission will have to respond to a subpoena questioning whether Zanetor is an EC registered voter or not.
Speaking after the ruling, Nii Armah Ashittey told journalists that “the case is still before the court so I don’t want to comment on the substance thereof. I can only say that this is good for democracy and the rule of law for Klottey Korle, the NDC and the nation as a whole.”
At the previous sitting, Godwin Tamakloe, appearing for Dr Zanetor, had urged the court to dismiss the suit because the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate enough capacity to mount the action.
He stated that the two, who willingly participated in the primaries, went through vetting and campaigned but had not shown the court if 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.
He said 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 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.
Aside Dr Zanetor, the two also sued the NDC and the Electoral Commission (EC) as first and third defendants respectively.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that Zanetor’s election was unlawful as she is not a registered voter in the national voter register.
It would be recalled that during the NDC’s primary, Zanetor could not vote because her name was not found in the voter register. There were speculations that she was not a registered Ghanaian voter.
The lawyer for the two defeated candidates, aside cost and legal fees against the defendants, 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 of the election.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson