Politics

Press Release By Johnson Asiedu Nketiah .

Press Briefing by Hon. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, The National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress on the Limited Voter Registration Exercise by the Electoral Commission of Ghana on Tuesday, 12thSeptember, 2023

1. Ladies and gentlemen, as you may be aware, the NDC, CPP, APC, LPG & GCPP last week Thursday, filed a suit against the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana in the Supreme Court over the Commission’s unlawful and unreasonable decision to restrict centres for the Limited Voter Registration exercise to their District Offices. 

The PNC has subsequently thrown their weight behind the suit with the hope of joining same in the Supreme Court. 

2. This suit was filed simply because the EC’s decision to restrict the centres of voter registration to their 268 district offices has the potential to deprive many eligible voters of their right to be registered as voters and to vote in public elections. 

3. Pending the final determination of the substantive matter, the parties have duly filed an Application for Interlocutory Injunction in the Supreme Court to restrain the EC from proceeding with the announced limited voter registration exercise; which as you are well aware, the exercise commenced today, Tuesday, 12th September, 2023.

4. Even though registration has commenced, this suit at the Supreme court is only the first of a series of actions that we intend to take to compel the EC to conduct limited voter registration at the electoral area level to give all eligible voters access to the process in line with the letter and spirit of Article 42 and 45 of the 1992 Constitution, Regulation 2(1)(2) of C.I 91 and the EC’s own time-tested practices. 

The basis of this suit are that;

5. Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution provides that every citizen of Ghana, 18 years and above and of sound mind is entitled to be registered as a voter and to vote in public elections and referenda. 

We firmly believe the EC’s decision to restrict registration centres to their district offices will deprive many eligible Ghanaians of their right to be registered as voters and lead to voter suppression. 

6. Also, whereas Article 45(e) of the 1992 Constitution mandatorily enjoins the EC to undertake programs to expand the registration of voters, the EC’s decision to restrict registration centres to their district offices will reduce access to voter registration. Hence contravenes Article 45(e) of the Constitution. 

7. Again, the EC’s decision to restrict registration centres to their district offices violates Regulation 2(2)(b) of C.I 91 (Amended by C.I. 126) – the law that governs centres for voter registration.

Regulation 2(2)(b) of C.I 91 provides:

“In designating a place as a registration centre, the Commission shall take into consideration

(a) the suitability of the place for use as a polling station on election day; and

(b) the accessibility of the place to prospective applicants for registration.”

Given the fact that the district offices of the EC are not suitable for use as polling stations on Election Day, the decision by the EC to restrict voter registration to its district offices is not only unreasonable but unlawful. 

Also, given the long distances that many eligible voters will have to travel and the exorbitant fares they will have to pay to transport themselves to district offices of the EC under the excruciating hardships Ghanaians are presently confronted with, the decision is insensitive, unreasonable, unlawful and unconscionable.

8. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s instructive to note that Regulation 30 of C.I 91 enjoins the EC to revise the voters’ register annually and to do so at the electoral area level. 

Yet, the Jean Mensah-led EC has violated the law in the last two years by not conducting any limited registration in 2021 and 2022. 

This has created a huge backlog of about 2.8million eligible persons including unemployed youth who are entitled to be registered. 

This huge backlog is the more reason why the EC’s decision to restrict voter registration to their district offices is unconscionable and preposterous. 

9. In 2019, the EC conducted limited voter registration in 1500 electoral area centres. Why will the EC reduce this number of registration centres to 268 now that they have a huge backlog of about 2.8 million persons to register? It simply doesn’t make sense. 

10. This irresponsible and unconscionable decision of the commission confirms the NDC’s long held view that the Jean Mensah-led EC is determined to rig the 2024 elections through voter suppression. But she will fail because we are ready for them.

11. Aside it’s potential to suppress registration and voting, the EC’s decision to restrict voter registration to its district offices can promote and facilitate gerrymandering as agents of political parties will find it difficult to challenge persons who may be bused from one constituency to another to register.

12. Ladies and gentlemen, in addition to the NDC, there are 4 other political parties who are plaintiffs in the instant case at the Supreme Court. And as already indicated, the PNC has also thrown its weight behind the suit. 

In fact, CODEO, Care Ghana and other stakeholders in our electoral space have all criticized this unreasonable decision of the NDC. 

Apart from the ruling and corrupt New Patriotic Party, no other political party or stakeholder has supported this decision by the EC. This clearly shows that the EC is the problem and not the NDC. 

And we know the only reason why the NPP is supporting this unreasonable and unlawful decision is because they are the masterminds and sole beneficiaries of same.

13. In an unusual twist – when our lawyers filed the injunction application last week Thursday – we were informed by the Registrar of the Supreme Court that the due date for the Application for Interlocutory Injunction to be moved will be given on Monday upon the expressed instructions of the Chief Justice of our dear Republic of Ghana. 

The decision by the registry of the Supreme Court to defer giving a hearing date for the injunction application on grounds that the Chief Justice is currently out of Accra leaves much to be desired as the CJ should have delegated someone to act in her absence as the practice is.

The administration of justice in our apex court cannot come to a stand-still simply because the Chief Justice is indisposed or unavailable to give hearing dates. What happened to the e-Justice system the John Mahama led NDC administration toiled for? This deliberate delay should not happen in any civilized country. This is completely unacceptable! 

This is yet again another clear evidence of judicial manipulation and we condemn it in no uncertain terms. 

14. We are aware that the EC has also been served with two applications for injunction from Courts of Competent Jurisdiction, specifically the High Court. Yet, the lawless Jean Mensah-led EC has decided to flout these injunction applications by going ahead with the registration exercise in flagrant disregard of the letter and spirit of the rule of law.

We wish to emphasise that the EC’s decision to proceed with the limited voter registration exercise today despite being served with two injunction applications from the courts contradicts an important precedent set by they themselves during the 2023 NDC Presidential and Parliamentary primaries when they publicly announced the suspension of their supervision of our primaries on grounds of a suit and injunction application filed by Dr. KwabenaDuffour. What has changed? Why this inconsistency?

15. Ladies and gentlemen, notwithstanding these pending legal matters, the NDC is fully ready for the registration +exercise which was illegally commenced by the EC today. We are ready! Very ready. But we care for the poor registrants who must cater for the cost and constraints of being registered to vote. 

We currently have our agents and officers in all 268 district offices of the EC.

We are keenly and actively monitoring the process and will ensure that the manipulations of the EC & the ruling NPP calculated to suppress votes and rig the process are defeated. NDC shall always stand and fight for the masses.

We therefore wish to call on all NDC officials at all levels, members, sympathizers and Ghanaians as a whole to encourage and fund and assist all eligible persons or prospective registrants to defy the EC and participate in the ongoing registration exercise. 

Your vote is your power! Don’t allow the Jean Mensah led EC to rob you of it no matter what.

Relatedly, we have outlined some discrepancies in the registration process which commenced this morning.  And we wish to share a few with you in order to jolt the EC into action. We expect the EC to act swiftly in order to avert any further loss of confidence in the Commission.

Thank you.

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