The Accra High Court has ordered the Electoral Commission to allow presidential candidate of The All People’s Congress (APC) to correct the mistakes in his nomination forms.
The court, presided over by Justice Barbara Charway agreed with another Judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour who ruled on a similar case in favour of Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP).
Justice Charway described the EC’s decision to disqualify Ayariga as “absurd, unfair and wrongful due to the circumstances including limitedness of 30th nomination day.”
Summary of Judgement
Justice Charway also dismissed the EC’s contention that the APC came to court through a wrong and premature process. The EC had argued that APC should have come by election petition which is only possible after the presidential elections are over.
But dismissing this argument, the judge said Public Elections Regulations (C.I 94) does not preclude aggrieved persons from coming to court by Judicial Review.
The EC’s second argument that it could not point out the errors to Ayariga for correction because the nomination process had closed on 30th September was also shot down.
The judge said although the nomination period was to end on the 30 September, the Electoral Commission was still accepting filing fees by the October 10.
The judge explained that the Public Elections Regulations (C.I 94) says a candidate will stand nominated once his filing fees have been received. So in effect, if the EC received the fees on the 10 October, it has necessarily even if unconsciously extended the nomination period.
The EC was accepting filing fees on October 10 because the PPP had dragged it to court challenging the legality of the EC’s actions in fixing the fees at GHC50,000 ($12,500) for presidential candidates and 10,000 cedis for Parliamentary candidates.
Due to the suit, the EC refrained from accepting the filing fees of some presidential candidates until the case was determined. It, however, accepted nomination forms.
On this basis, the judge held that if the EC could accept the fees even after the 30 September deadline, then the nomination was not closed on that day.
She added that the nomination period is meaningful if it accommodates all activities incidental to a meaningful conclusion of the filing process.
Infact, Justice Charway added that because the nomination period had been extended from 30th September to 10 October, the EC cannot claim that it was too late to draw Ayariga’s attention to correct his mistakes.
This is especially because the commission had access to all forms from 30th to 10th and could have identified the problem of double subscription found on Ayariga’s presidential nomination forms. The responsibility was then on the EC to notify the candidate of the mistakes once they identified them so that they could correct same.
The EC’s decision to disqualify the aspiring presidential candidate has therefore been squashed by the court.
A very, very wonderful ruling’ – Ayariga has the last laugh
Hassan Ayariga was disqualified from the 2016 presidential race when the EC discovered during the vetting of his nomination forms that two persons who endorsed his forms have done same for another presidential candidate.
The EC said this goes against Regulation 7 (2) (b) of CI 94.
Mr Ayariga, following the striking out of these two persons, failed to obtain the required 432 signatures needed for a candidate to qualify for the elections.
But he did not take this lying down. He headed to court to challenge his disqualification culminating in Friday’s verdict.
Speaking to Joy News’ Joseph Ackah Blay after the ruling, the presidential candidate could not hide his joy.
“Today, we must thank the Almighty God. For today, we must all believe in God, we have prayed and prayed that the court will give us justice. Ghanaians today have witnessed a very successful event today.”
The ruling, he believes, is a demonstration that Ghana’s laws are “working and no matter who you are or your institution, when you find fault with your issues, you can always go to court for redress.”
He praised the judge for giving “a wonderful, simple and perfect ruling.”
Mr Ayariga hoped for the best for all the other contenders and said his party will continue its campaigns.
Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Naa Sakwaba Akwa | firstname.lastname@example.org