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18.02.2009 Politics

Asutifi South election petition goes to Supreme Court


Alhaji Collins Dauda, National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentary candidate for Asutifi South, has filed an application at the Supreme Court for an Order of Certiorari to set aside the Sunyani High Court's ruling on the election petition delivered on January 6.

Alhaji Dauda, now Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, is praying the court for an Order of Prohibition, preventing the High Court from hearing the petition brought before it by Mr Yiadom Boakye-Boateng, New patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary candidate in the election.

Consequently, the Supreme Court has fixed February 24 as the hearing date for Alhaji Dauda's applications.

After the election on December 7, Mr Yiadom-Boakye petitioned the High Court to restrain the electoral officers in the Asutifi Constituency from declaring the results.

He alleged that the entire process of collating the results needed to be investigated, because apart from it being fraught with corrupt practices, the NDC candidate and the electoral officers were involved in electoral malfeasance.

After the High Court overruled a preliminary objection raised by counsel for the NDC candidate on December 22, 2008, the Electoral Commission (EC) petitioned the Court of Appeal to order the High Court to stay proceedings on the matter.

When the matter came up for hearing at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, Mr Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey, counsel for Mr Yiadom Boakye-Boateng, drew the court's attention to the fact that Alhaji Dauda had taken the matter to the Supreme Court.

Mr Justice Asare Korang, the presiding judge of the three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, adjourned the matter sine die to enable the Supreme Court to determine Alhaji Dauda's Certiorari and Prohibition Applications.

Sections 16-28 of PNDC Law 284 regulate the presentation of an election petition, while Sections 19-23 deal with the handling of an election petition by the High Court.

Section 16 gives the court an exclusive original jurisdiction in election petitions, while Section 17 sets out those who are competent to present election petitions.

If the basis of the petition is that of corrupt practice in which money or other award is alleged to have been paid, then the petitioner should present it within 21 days after the date of the alleged payment.

In all other situations, the election petition is to be filed within 21 days after the date of Gazette publication of the results of the disputed election.

Section 18 (3) unambiguously provides that the 21-day time limit shall not be extended. This means that the High Court has no power to grant an extension of time in respect of the 21-day time limit.