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15.10.2004 NPP News

High Court restrains Weija NPP parliamentary candidate

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Accra, Oct. 15, GNA - An Accra High Court on Friday restrained Ms Shirely Ayokor Botchway, from holding herself as the Weija Parliamentary candidate for New Patriotic Party (NPP). The Court further restrained Ms Botchway from registering as the Parliamentary Candidate for Weija Constituency until primaries were held.

Ruling on the matter, the Court noted that the plaintiffs in the case, who are Polling Station Executives, had the capacity to institute the action.

The Court said under the constitution of the Party if a person was not approved after vetting, a letter ought to have been written to the plaintiffs but this was not done.

The Court said there was no evidence that the plaintiffs were served after they had been disapproved saying the Party could not select a person, who was not acceptable to the Party members. The Plaintiffs are Mr Joseph Odartei Lamptey; Mr Kwabena Kessie and Wofa Attah, all residents of Gbawe, and other 133 persons in the Weija Constituency.

The Plaintiffs were seeking a declaration on what they said was the imposition of Ms Botchway on the Weija Constituency as Parliamentary Candidate of the NPP without holding a Delegates' Conference. They described her nomination as unlawful and pleaded that it should be declared null and void and ultra vires in respect of the constitution of the NPP.

They were seeking an order that a Delegates' Conference be held at the Weija Constituency to nominate one of the five applicants as the Party's Parliamentary Candidates for Election 2004.

They were also seeking an order of injunction restraining the NPP, its assigns, privies, workmen, allies or any one remotely connected to it from registering Ms Botchway with the Electoral Commission (EC) as the Party's Parliamentary Candidate for the Weija Constituency pending the determination of the suit.

The Plaintiffs prayed the Court to restrain Ms Botchway, her allies and assigns from holding herself as the Party's Parliamentary Candidate pending the determination of the suit.

The Plaintiffs in their statement of claim contended that Ms Botchwey was one of the five applicants in the race as the NPP candidate for the Weija Constituency.

Others are Captain Ebow Acquaah, Mr Owusu Afriyie, Ms Rosemond Abrah and Mr Kwarteng, all of who had satisfied the requirement of the Party's constitution after being vetted and re-vetted. The Vetting Committee informed them that a date for the holding of the primaries would be given in due course after they had paid the prescribed fees.

The Plaintiffs said the selection of parliamentary candidates for the Party was regulated by the Party's constitution under which an extraordinary constituency Delegates' Conference should be convened to elect a candidate.

The NPP, the Plaintiffs said, instead of holding a Delegates' Conference to elect a candidate of their choice, rather wrongfully and unconstitutionally imposed Ms Botchway, who neither resided in the constituency nor hailed from the constituency.

"In line with the Party's constitution all the chairpersons of Polling Station Executive Committees on July 12 and July 29, 2004 petitioned President John Agyekum Kufuor about the arbitrary imposition of the second defendant on the Constituency.

"The National and Regional Executives of the Party were also petitioned to no avail, even though the concerns of the Plaintiff ought to have been addressed within 21 days of receipt of grievances," the Plaintiffs stated.

The Plaintiffs said on August 29, all the chairpersons of the Polling Station Executives Committee sent a protest to the Chairman and National Steering Committee of the Party against the acclamation of Ms Botchway as the Parliamentary Candidate for the constituency and requested for a date for the primaries but this was not been heeded to. "On September 10, this year, Mr Samuel Peprah, the Constituency Chairman, wrote a letter on behalf of all Polling Station Executives praying for a date for the primary to be held and for them to choose a candidate of their choice."

The Plaintiffs said four days later, the Regional First Vice Chairman of the Party Mr R.O. Solomon sent a reply, which read: "Kindly be informed that Thursday 16, September 2004 has been approved for the conference. The candidate approved to represent your constituency is Ms Shirely Ayorkor Botchway. Her nomination would be acclaimed at the conference."

Responding, the Counsel for Defendants told the Court that the application was without merit and must be refused. Counsel said the action itself apart from being premature was wholly misconceived and failed to disclose a proper cause of action in law.

He stated that the plaintiffs had no capacity to institute the action saying that the persons they purport to be representing had not authorized them.

Counsel said the right to approve and nominate an aspirant to contest on the ticket of the Party was entirely the prerogative of the NPP.

"Since the declarations sought by the Plaintiffs in the action are not in respect of any legal rights vested in themselves, the Court cannot grant an injunction in their favour."

The Defendants stated that the four aspirants, whose candidature were disallowed, were dully informed of the Vetting Committee's decision, but being dissatisfied, they made several representation to the Party but for reasons best known to the Party, it maintained its decision not approve of their candidature.

The Party, therefore, set September 16, 2004, for the nomination of Ms Botchway by acclamation but the event was postponed because of protest engineered by the four aggrieved persons. "Under the Party's constitution, a member who has a grievance against the Party shall petition for redress and wait for the outcome of investigations into the petition and decision of the Constituency, Regional or National Executive Committees as the case may be." The Plaintiffs, the Counsel for the Defendants said, had not exhausted this procedure.

Counsel denied that Ms Botchway did not hail from the constituency. Counsel noted that Plaintiffs would not suffer any hardship if their application were denied.

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