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The Electoral Commission (EC) has said it will meet the June 29 deadline set by the Supreme Court for the compilation of names of voters, who registered in 2012 by using their national health insurance cards as proof of citizenship, as well as the presentation of modalities the election management body intends using in cleaning the register of voters of ineligible names.
The commission’s new Head of Communications, Mr Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, told Chief Jerry Forson in an exclusive interview on Accra100.5FM’s breakfast show, Ghana Yensom, on Friday June 24 that: “We are working and we’ll meet the deadline and we’ll send the request that the Supreme Court wants from us to the Supreme Court come the 29th of June 2016.”
The court on Thursday June 23 gave the EC the six-day ultimatum to submit to it, a complete list of all Ghanaians, who used their NHIS cards to register as eligible voters in 2012. The same court, a couple of years ago, had ruled that NHIS cards were not sufficient proof of citizenship, and, thus could not be used as valid identification for voter registration.
The Supreme Court’s latest order follows a return to the apex court by plaintiff Abu Ramadan to seek clarity on the court’s May 5 ruling in an earlier case he had filed at the same court over the credibility of the 2012 register of voters. In the May 5 ruling, the court ordered the EC to delete from the register of voters, names of all those who used NHIS cards to register as voters, as well as names of the dead and minors.
Some stakeholders, including the Coordinator of local election observer group Coalition of Domestic Election Observations (CODEO), Mr Albert Kofi Arhin, and Mr Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, founder of policy think tank Danquah Institute (DI), have expressed doubts that the EC can produce the list.
Mr Arhin, for instance, said some of the registration data does not exist because they have been destroyed. “…From the grapevine, some of us know that some of these data is actually not in existence. OK, so, if it’s not there, what really happens? I will not be able to answer that question,” Mr Arhin, who formerly worked with the EC, told Emefa Apawu on the 505 news programme on Thursday June 23. …From the grapevine, I know, or I’ve been told, that some of the data have been destroyed and that could have even explained why the EC was dragging its feet for so long,” in obeying the Supreme Court’s May 5 directive, Mr Arhin emphasised.
Mr Arhin said the latest development rendered preparations for the 2016 polls a “tall order”, a situation he said “might disrupt the timetable”.
“I’m saying this because if they are to submit the list to the Supreme Court, it is then that they will be asked to go and delete, after deletion they will have to re-register and after re-registration there has to be an exhibition. And you see, this will all be adding to the already tight programme, and the fear we even have is that: ‘Are we even sure the data that they are looking for is there? Does the commission really have the data?” he asked.
“…You know there is this thing about the commission that after one year, when you conduct elections, and there’s no dispute, there’s no problem, you dispose of all the materials in the ballot boxes to create room for other orders, so that when there is another election, you can have a convenient space to pack your things. Are we sure that the data that the Supreme Court is looking for is actually there? Because (1) it is not in the database, this was not captured into the database, it was not scanned, the information that they are supposed to be looking for has not be scanned and, therefore, it is not already in existence, it means they will have to go into the ballot boxes to remove these things one by one and be writing all the names across the country. So, if they had heeded to this request long ago, I’m not sure we would have arrived at this murky situation we are in at the moment.”
Asked by Emefa Apawu if he thought the elections would come off as planned in the light of the latest SC directive, Mr Arhin said: “I really am doubtful, I am very doubtful and let’s pray that it works out well, but it looks murky because they are going to write the data – every district, every constituency will have to be up and doing and look out for this data if it is there already, if it is not there, that’s another matter, so all I will say is that it is murky.”
Mr Arhin also said the EC has not conducted itself well in handling the various concerns expressed by the court and some stakeholders as far as the upcoming polls are concerned. “No, you and I know that from the verdict that has come out, I mean it is clear that the EC has not behaved the way it should have behaved, so you don’t need to ask anybody; it is there, clearly written for everybody to see.”
Despite the scepticism, Mr Dzakpasu told Chief Jerry Forson that the EC will provide the list and the modalities for deleting the names as requested by the highest court of the land. “Don’t fret at all, the Supreme Court has given us a deadline to present a list, so all we have to do is to take the list to the court and then we continue with whatever else will be left to do. Everything we do at the EC is guided by law, and the Supreme Court also knows we do our work according to the law and the Supreme Court has asked us to present to it the guidelines and modalities we will use to delete the names, so we will just present it to them when the time comes.”