Friday, August 31, 2012

Contempt case against EC withdrawn

AUGUST 17, 2012 (Page 20) A contempt of court suit brought against the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and six others has been withdrawn. Dr Afari-Gyan and the other six respondents namely Amadu Sulley, Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka, Mrs Pauline Adobea, Ebenezer Aggrey Fynn, Mrs Rebecca Kabuki Adjafo and Mrs Sa-Adatu Maida, all commissioners of the EC were present in court. Mr Ayikoi Otoo, who instituted the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs, Mr Richard Odum Bortier and Mr Daniel Quaye, announced the withdrawal at the Fast Track High Court’s sitting in Accra today. The plaintiffs, who are both residents of Nungua in Accra, had prayed the court to imprison the seven for contempt of court because they had in spite of a pending court action against the creation of new constituencies gone ahead to lay a paper before Parliament in further pursuit of their agenda to create the new constituencies. However, Mr Ayikoi explained that the discontinuing of the case was necessitated by the EC’s withdrawal of erroneous version of CI 73 for the creation of additional 45 constituencies. The EC withdrew CI 73 and replaced it with a corrected version after the House rejected the previous version on grounds that it contained many errors and inconsistencies. With the laying of the corrected version, prospective candidates of the various political parties who are preparing to secure the mandate to contest for the new seats will have to wait for another 21 parliamentary sitting days. Counsel for the respondents, Mr James Quashie-Idun disagreed with Mr Otoo’s stance and suggested it would have served a better purpose if parties in the case waited for the outcome of a ruling which was billed to be delivered at another High Court. The presiding judge, Mr Edward Amoako-Asante accordingly struck out the application as having been withdrawn and declined to award cost. Following the withdrawal of the suit by the applicants, the presiding judge, Mr Justice Edward Amoako-Asante accordingly struck out the contempt application which had prayed the court to imprison the respondents. Meanwhile, another Fast Track High Court presided over by Mr Justice K. A. Ofori-Atta has declined jurisdiction over a suit which prayed it order the EC to public CI setting forth the basis, processes and methodology by which it creates, reviews or alters the constituencies of Ghana having regard to the provisions in the Constitution. It advised the plaintiffs, Bortier and Quaye to go to the Constituency Boundary Dispute Settlement Tribunal, a specialized court which has been designated to hear boundary related disputes. The EC had prayed the court to stay proceedings and refer the matter which was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Mr Otoo to the Supreme Court for interpretation. According to the EC, the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs needed constitutional interpretation which was the sole preserve of the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the court held a different view and stated that the issues raised by the plaintiffs did not border on constitutional interpretation. The plaintiffs had also prayed the court to order the EC to take into account the mandatory provisions of Article 47 (3) of the 1992 Constitution in any future demarcation, review or alteration of boundaries of any constituency in Ghana so as to ensure fair representation as enshrined in the Constitution. They had also urged the court to declare that the EC’s principle that every district must have a constituency was not warranted by either the Constitution or any other law as well as restrain the EC from demarcating, reviewing or altering boundaries of the constituencies in future unless due process was followed.

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