GRASAG-Legon Judicial Committee Presents Detailed Judgment On 2017 Election Petitions; Recommends Electoral Reforms

The Judicial Committee (JC) of the Graduate Students' Association of Ghana (GRASAG)-Legon chapter has issued detailed judgments of the election petitions following the summary verdicts given on Monday, 29th May, 2017.

Some members of the association filed two separate petitions challenging the outcome of the 2017 GRASAG-Legon elections.

In the petition filed by Mr Dziedzorm Gagblezu-Alomatu and Eric Sepenu Afli, the petitioners unsuccessfully sought to have the April 26 elections results that elected Mr Eric Oyeman Ato Brown nullified and struck out.

The JC has issued the detailed judgement explaining why the three-member quorum empanelled to look into the petitions dismissed the claims of the petitioners and upheld the final declaration by the electoral commission (1st Respondent in the case).

The detailed report of the judgment was represented by the chairman of the JC, Hon. Henry Kokofu to Senate when he gave a report of their stewardship during their term of office for the 2016/2017 academic year at a Senate meeting held on Friday, 9th June, 2017.

Chairman of the Judicial Coommittee, Hon. Henry Kokofu
Chairman of the Judicial Coommittee, Hon. Henry Kokofu

The petitioners presented a petition dated 27th April, 2017 titled; “PETITION CHALLENGING ELECTION RESULTS” seeking an order to nullify and strike out the results of the elections. They also sought to have the JC order for a rerun of the elections, but the three-member quorum felt they had not proved their case to their satisfaction.

The JC noted that courts in Ghana and all over the world have always sought to jealously protect the right of the people to exercise their franchise by way of voting.

In support of this, the committee cited excerpts of the judgment delivered by P. Baffoe Bonnie (JSC) on page 477 in the case of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo vrs John Dramani Mahama, The Electoral Commission of Ghana and the National Democratic Congress, NDC, when he held that:
"To annul a vote is an act of disenfranchising a person and therefore a really big legal issue and can be resorted to if a voter engages in an election malpractice".

The Committee added that, "the irregularities as stated by the petitioners bother on the administrative and internal processes of the 1st respondent and not directly related to the election results" so the voter cannot be disenfranchised.

On their part, the 1st respondent insisted in their argument that the declaration of Mr Eric Ato Brown as GRASAG-Legon President Elect was valid and proper.

According to them, the petitioners neither claimed in any part of their petition that they won the elections nor proved how the alleged claims of irregularities changed the outcome of results of the elections.

Mr Eric Ato Brown (2nd respondent), who applied to join the case and was so granted based on his interest in the matter argued that, he was validly and properly elected, and accordingly declared as GRASAG-Legon President elect by the 1st respondent.

According to him, the petitioners failed to show that: the irregularities changed the result of the election, irregularities made the outcome of the election impossible to determine, and fraud took place.

After hearing the arguments of the petitioners and respondents, a final verdict was delivered on Monday, 29th May, 2017.

The JC ruled that the declaration of the election results by the 1st respondent be upheld and the 2nd respondent was validly elected.

Whiles the claims of the petitioners were dismissed, the JC recommended the following electoral reforms;

1. Electoral register of members in good standing only be procured/compiled and published at least 6 weeks before the day of elections. This will allow voters ample time to confirm their data on the register and report errors for correction.

2. Again, all polling stations should be codified instead of the unitary system currently been used. This will restrict voters to specific polling station and eliminate the "free range system".

3. Education on the electoral process be improved in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

4. Any other reforms the Electoral Commission deems fit in line with best practice (s) or expert opinion.

The swearing-in ceremony of the newly elected executives of the association will be held today Saturday, 10th June, 2017.

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