Friday, August 31, 2012
Creation of new constituencies under threat
AUGUST 24, 2012 (Front page) AN Accra-based businessman, Mr James Amarh Amartey, has dragged the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Attorney-General to the Supreme Court challenging the legality in in the intention of the EC to create 45 additional constituencies. The plaintiff contends that L.I. 1983 of 2010, which created new districts and laid before Parliament by the Minister of Local Government and through which the new constituencies have been created should be declared an absolute nullity. According to the plaintiff, the outcome of the December 7, 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections would be rendered invalid if L.I. 1983 of 2010 was not deleted. The plaintiff, is therefore, praying the court to declare that the Representation of People (Parliamentary Constituencies) Instrument 2012, C.I. 73 seeking to create 45 new constituencies, thereby increasing the existing constituencies from 230 to 275, currently lying in Parliament and yet to come into force as null and void. He is through his lawyer, Mr Ayikoi Otoo invoking the Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to declare that the Local Government (Creation of New District Electoral Areas And Designation of Units" Instrument, L.I.1983 of 2010, laid in Parliament by the Minister responsible for Local Government, and which came into force after twenty-one (21) days from the day it was gazetted, was made by the Minister responsible for Local Government, in contravention of Article 45(b) of the Constitution 1992. Article 45 (b) of the 1992 gives the EC the mandate to demarcate electoral boundaries for both national and local government elections. That function according to the plaintiff has been usurped by the Minister of Local Government and for that reason the plaintiff is further praying the court to rule that the said Local Government (Creation of New District Electoral Areas and Designation of Units) Instrument L.I. 1983 of 2010 by the Minister of Local Government as null and void and of no legal effect. The plaintiff is arguing that the Electoral Areas unconstitutionally created by the Minister responsible for Local Government was equally null and void and of no legal effect. “National Elections (Presidential & Parliamentary), scheduled for December 7, 2012 would have to be conducted based upon C.I. 73 which has incorporated in it the Electoral Areas contained in the Local Government (Creation of New District Electoral Areas and Designation of Units) Instrument L.I. 1983 of 2010. That L.I. is unconstitutional, null and void and of no legal effect,” a statement of claim pointed out. . The background as provided by the plaintiff was that on October 19, 2010, the then Hon. Minister of Local Government laid before Parliament after Cabinet approval, the Local Government (Creation of New District Electoral Areas and Designation of Units) Instrument L.I. 1983. It said Pursuant to Order 77 of the Standing Orders of Parliament of Ghana, the Hon. Speaker of Parliament referred the said Instrument to the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation and “in accordance with the provisions of Article 11(7) of the Constitution 1992, the said L.I. 1983 after 21 sitting days after being so laid came into force and became known as L.I. 1983 of 2010.” “ Following legal suits challenging the authority of Parliament to amend the said L.I. 1983 of 2010, some of the Electoral Areas so created by the said L.I. 1983 of 2010, were declared null and void and of no legal effect notably: Okane and 4 Ors v Electoral Commission and Attorney- General,  SCGLR 1136; Opremreh v Electoral Commission of Ghana & Attorney- General  SCGLR 1159; Charles Mate Kole & Another Vrs The Electoral Commission, The Attorney-Cerieral And Nene Teye Titriku I, Akuse-Amedeka Citizens Association in Writ No.Jl/4/2011 - Unreported Judgment dated June 13, 2012.” The Plaintiff contends that under Article 45(b) of the Constitution 1992, the creation of Electoral Boundaries was vested in the Electoral Commission and not in the Minister responsible for Local Government. “ The Minister responsible for Local Government in creating the district electoral areas under L.I. 1983 of 2010, purported to have derived his authority from subsections (3) and (4) of section 3 of the Local Government Act 1993 (Act 462). Accordingly, the plaintiff argues that the act of the Minister for Local Government therefore in usurping the constitutional function of the Electoral Commission in the creation of Electoral boundaries or Areas with the laying in Parliament of the Local Government (Creation of New District Electoral Areas and Designation of Units) Instrument L.1. 1983 of 2010 was an act inconsistent with or in contravention of Article 45 (b) of the Constitution 1992 and therefore, makes the said L.1. 1983 of 2010, invalid.