NDC ‘walked away with nothing’, Supreme Court ruling a clear loss – Godfred Dame

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A Deputy Attorney-General, Godfred Dame, has hit out the National Democratic Congress (NDC) saying it “walked away with nothing” following the opposition party’s challenge of the Electoral Commission’s (EC) decision to compile a new register without the existing voter ID.

Mr. Dame, who represented the State in the case, recounted that Supreme Court “stated clearly that the old voters’ ID cards are excluded from the upcoming voter registration exercise and that EC has the power to act strictly in accordance with C.I 126.”

In affirming the already existing plans of the EC, the Supreme Court, on Thursday, June 25, 2020, ruled that the existing voter ID card and birth certificates cannot be used as proof of identity to register in the upcoming voter registration exercise.

The seven-member panel also cleared the EC to go ahead and compile a new voters’ register for the 2020 general elections.

However, the General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, shortly after the ruling proclaimed that the existing voter ID card will now be accepted by the EC for the registration exercise and that, they have been vindicated.

But speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Dame criticised the Mr. Asiedu Nketia for his comments which were at odds with the court’s verdict.

“Per the ruling, do you see any relief that the existing Voters ID should be used granted? Which of them authorises the use of the existing ID card? The court has actually spoken to explain why the existing ID card and the birth certificate which are considered alternative means for the EC to prepare a voters’ register have been denied.”

“It has been denied because according to the Supreme Court the EC has the discretion to exercise as to which of the instruments to choose and decides to choose another, that discretion cannot be faulted or question unless there is patent unconstitutionality and in this case, there is no unconstitutionality,” he noted.

What the Supreme Court said

Aside from the NDC, a private citizen, Mark Takyi-Banson, also challenged the EC’s decision to compile an entirely new register and exclude the existing voter ID.

But the apex court stressed that the EC was exercising its discretion in the discharge of its constitutional mandate in cleaning the voters register and “should be deemed as authorised to be acting within the law and the regulations therein, and cannot be faulted even if it is considered that there is a more efficient mode or method available.”

The Supreme Court judges also recalled the landmark Abu Ramadan case when the EC was directed to clean out names registered with the National Health Insurance Scheme card from the electoral roll.

It held that the EC “in performing their mandate under Article 45 of the Constitution 1992 cannot be compelled to act in a particular manner unless there is clear evidence that they have acted unconstitutionally.”

Beyond this, the Supreme Court reminded that it could not make decisions for a constitutional body like the EC which was “exercising the discretion conferred on it by the Constitution unless they act contrary to it.”

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