Dr Afari Gyan ? EC Boss

THE ELECTORAL Commissioner, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan Chairman was yesterday let off the hook by an Accra Fast Track High Court where he was due to be convicted for contempt of court.

This was after he finally complied with a court order and started a registration exercise for over 3,000 voters in the Gayingo, Doba, Akunikongo/Abemtingo and Atosale/Azaasi electoral areas in the Kassena Nankana East district of the Upper East region.

Dr. Afari-Gyan, his deputy, K. Sarfo Kantanka and the District Electoral Officer of the area, Nicholas Pawiah were found guilty of contempt of court after they failed to comply with a court order to register the said voters.

The applicants who filed the contempt application against the respondents are Aberinga Aligbo, Azungora Abuo, Azinyegre Anafo and Ayariga Awunge, all eligible voters in the said constituencies.
Ekow Dadson, counsel for the applicants told the court presided over by Justice Utter Peter Dery that it seemed the Electoral Commision (EC) had no intention of allowing those they were registering to vote.

He said only 900 out of the 3000 eligible voters had so far been registered and he had no information about whether or not the registration was still on-going.

James Quarshie Idun, counsel for the EC noted that the commission had done all it could to register the voters but said under Voter Registration Regulation 9(5) of 2012 CI 72 those registered cannot vote until 60 days after registration.

He said registration was still continuing but added that in accordance with the said regulation it would be very difficult for those registered to vote.

The trial judge in giving his verdict said the court order was to the effect that eligible voters should be registered but said the order did not go further than that.

According to the judge, once it had been stated clearly that those registered cannot vote, any order directing that they should, would be contrary to the spirit and letter of the CI.

The judge consequently let the respondents off the hook but awarded costs of GH?1,000 for each applicant against the respondents.

Last week the court found the respondents guilty of contempt for disregarding an order to conduct biometric registration of the voters in the area after a judgment in October against the EC and six others.

The court presided over by Justice Edward Asante Amoako ordered the EC to conduct registration of voters in eight affected constituencies within 14 days.

The farming community threatened not to take part in today?s presidential and parliamentary elections because they were unhappy with the change of names of some polling stations in the area.
Justice Dery in finding the respondents guilty said both the applicants and the security officers in the Upper East region were served with the entry of judgment to ensure that the voter registration took place smoothly, reiterating that both were very much aware of the court?s order.

Furthermore, he said the security agencies had a duty to ensure order in society and could not have refused to do so if the defendants had discussed with them when the voter registration would take place for them to assist to ensure that the exercise would be smooth.

The judge said the respondents willfully failed to comply with the court order and found them guilty of contempt of court.

By Fidelia Achama


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