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Tsatsu refuses to argue NDC case as Supreme Court dismisses review against EC

The Supreme court has dismissed the opposition National Democratic Congress’ case for a review of its decision to exclude some IDs from the mass voter registration exercise, organised by the Electoral Commission.

The court, sitting with two more justices, said it had studied the NDC’s review application but found it lacked merit. The initial judgement was delivered by a seven-member panel.

The review application is for the Supreme Court to take a second look at its own judgment on the exclusion of the old voter ID card and birth certificates from the list of valid documents needed for the EC’s registration exercise.

The Supreme Court had explained that the birth certificate was “not a form of identification. It does not establish the identity of the bearer. Nor does it link the holder with the information on the certificate.”

In essence a birth certificate does not make you a Ghanaian. The decision sparked controversy and the NDC resolved to challenge it in court.

But the case has been dismissed. The dismissal in court on Thursday, was not without the usual drama.

Tsatsu Tsikata, who is counsel for the NDC had asked for a short adjournment to enable him study an affidavit from the Electoral Commission that had been served on him while in court.

It had been served on him some 45 minutes to the hearing, the new lawyer for the NDC had said.

But the deputy Attorney-General, Godfred Dame, resisted his request, explaining that Tsatsu Tsikata had been pushing for a swift hearing.

The case needed to be determined because the mass voter registration exercise would end August 6.

The deputy A-G said his opposing counsel was running away from his own case.

Godfred Dame urged the panel of judges to dismiss the case.

The courts are expected to start its annual legal vacation August 1st, by which time the court may be unable to sit on the case.

The judges went on recess to examine the two positions and returned with a ruling rejecting Tsatsu Tsikata’s request for a brief adjournment.

The justices directed the NDC legal counsel to state his client’s case for a review of the Supreme Court decision.

But Tsatsu Tsikata said he was unable to comply with the order. The panel of judges went ahead to dismiss the case.

“Today the Supreme Court did the unthinkable. They dismissed a motion before it was moved,” an NDC legal practitioner, Abraham Amaliba, fumed.

The vastly experienced Tsatsu Tsikata was the new lawyer for the NDC after a younger lawyer, Edudzi Tamakloe, was substituted.

In the previous judgment, seven justices sat on the case. They were Justices Jones Dotse, Sule Gbadegbe, Paul Baffoe Bonnie, Nene Amegatcher, Prof. Ashie Kotey, Samuel K. Marful-Sau and the Chief Justice, Anin Yeboah who presided.

The review had two additional judges — Justices Yaw Appau and Mariama Owusu.

Background

The NDC has argued that the Supreme Court came to its conclusions “without due and proper regard for existing laws, and in many cases, without the requisite supporting evidence.”

It maintains that registering births and deaths has been a basic element in official national record-keeping.

“A Ghanaian birth certificate shows one’s date and place of birth, age, parentage, and nationality; precisely the kind of information that would be required for any form of voter registration.”

The NDC further argued that “holders of existing voter ID cards have acquired rights based on the fact that the EC has gone through a process of identifying them, ascertaining their ages and nationality and has adjudged them to be eligible to vote.”

“What surprises us is that it is the same Electoral Commission which issued these cards at high expense to the state, that is now alleging strenuously, with hardly any proof, that its own process of issuing those cards was so poisoned that those cards should not be accepted as proof of identity,” it added.

The exercise which started on June 30, is only accepting the new ECOWAS Ghana card and a valid passport as forms of identification.

The NDC feels this status quo would lead to many Ghanaians being disenfranchised and was opposed to it even before it had been passed in Parliament.

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