Officials of the Electoral Commission (EC) could be cited for contempt of court following their failure to implement to the Representation of People Amendment Act (ROPAA) (Act 699) as directed by an Accra High Court.
The EC recently prayed the court to give it 12 months to implement the Act, which would enable Ghanaians living abroad to vote in national elections and referenda.
A private legal practitioner, Sampson Lardy Anyenini, counsel for the applicants, prayed the court to hold the EC in contempt for failing to follow its orders.
An Accra High Court (Human Rights Division) on December 17, 2017 ordered the EC to activate the process that would enable Ghanaians living abroad to vote in the country’s elections.
The court said within 12 calendar months – beginning from January 1, 2018 – the EC should lay before parliament the modalities for the implementation of the ROPAA Act so that Ghanaian citizens living abroad can take part in election 2020.
The 12-month period given by the court ended on December 31, 2019, but the EC could not implement the Act and subsequently filed a motion pleading for an extension of time to do so.
Moving the application, Justin Amenuvor, counsel for the EC, told the court that several challenges, including internal issues, affected the activities of the EC after the order was given.
One of the challenges, the EC Chairperson said, include the removal of Charlotte Osei and her two deputies- Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku-Amankwa, who were found guilty of six allegations leveled against them by some petitioners.
This, he said, meant that the EC could not convene a meeting, as the EC Chairperson and her two deputies had been dismissed.
He said in the absence of the EC Chair and her deputies there was nobody to convene the meeting as stipulated by law, let alone preside over such meetings.
He said the EC has been restructured and pleaded for more time to implement the Act.
Sampson Lardy Anyenini, counsel for the plaintiffs, opposed the motion, saying it has no basis in law and that granting it would affect the effective administration of justice.
He said the application was filed out of time and that the EC, in its effort to seek the mercy of the court, has not shown any draft “no matter how poorly done” to show compliance.
He added that the EC was properly constituted as far back as July, last year and that the Commission has organised a referendum for the creation of the six new regions which showed that the EC is not interested in complying with the court’s order.
He, therefore, urged the court to give the EC three months to comply with the order should the court be minded to grant the application.
He added that the EC must be made to come up with a roadmap and compelling action plan if the motion is granted.
The court, presided over by Justice Nicholas Abodakpi, adjourned the matter to May 8, 2019 to give its ruling.