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25.02.2009 Politics

Ruling on Asutifi South election petition on April 8

Ruling on Asutifi South election petition on April 8

The Supreme Court will give its judgment on a Certiorari Application brought before it by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentary candidate for Asutifi South, Alhaji Collins Dauda, praying the court to set aside a Sunyani High Court's decision on the election dispute in the constituency.

The five-member panel of the Supreme Court, chaired by Mr Justice William Atuguba, with Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, Dr. Justice Date Bah, Mrs Justice Rose Owusu and Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie as other members, fixed the date on Tuesday after hearing oral submissions from the various counsel in the matter.

Results from Asutifi South and the Akwatia are the only two yet to be declared by the Electoral Commission (EC) after the December 7 Elections.

While the EC was yet to declare the results in Asutifi South, Mr Yiadom Boakye Boateng, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate, filed a petition at the Sunyani High Court alleging that there were certain irregularities in the conduct of the election and therefore prayed the court to restrain the EC from declaring the results.

On January 6, the High Court overruled a preliminary objection raised by counsel for Alhaji Dauda that the matter was not properly brought before the court.

Not satisfied with the ruling of the High Court, the EC filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal against that decision.

When the matter came up for hearing at the Court of Appeal on February 17, the court was informed that Alhaji Dauda had filed a Certiorari Application at the Supreme Court asking the court to quash the High Court's decision of January 6.

Consequently, the Court of Appeal adjourned the matter sine die, pending its final determination by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court was co-incidentally hearing the Certiorari Application on February 17 when the Court of Appeal sat on it.

One of the panel members was indisposed on that day and the matter was adjourned to Tuesday.

Making his submissions at the court's sitting on Tuesday, Mr Samuel Cudjoe, counsel for Alhaji Dauda, argued that the application was premature and out of place, because in his view, Section 18 (1) of PNDC Law 284 made it clear that a parliamentary election petition could be filed at a High Court only when the EC had declared a winner.

Counsel submitted that since in the case in point the EC had not come out with the final results, the application by Mr Nkrabea Effah-Dartey, counsel for the NPP candidate, was out of place and ought not to be entertained by the court.

Mr Effah-Dartey submitted that the application was properly laid before the court because it was being brought under Section 18 (2) of that same PNDC Law 284.

Counsel stated that his understanding of the said provision was that a candidate should not wait for election results to be declared before bringing a petition if he noticed irregularities or malpractices in the conduct of the election.

Mr James Quarshie-Idun, counsel for the EC, submitted that the Commission had the dual mandate to publicly declare a winner in an election, and to proceed further to publish the gazetted results in the dailies.

Counsel, therefore, prayed the Supreme Court to grant the Certiorari Application in order for the Commission to fulfill its constitutional mandate, before any election petition could be filed or entertained by the High Court.

Mrs Sylvia Adosu, Principal State Attorney who represented the Attorney-General's Department, endorsed the EC's submission, and said since it had not yet declared a winner in the Asutifi South Parliamentary Election, the Sunyani High Court's decision should be set aside.