George Yankah enquires: Is Election 2024 Rigging Process In Full Swing?

Out of guilty conscience and shame, Jean Mensah was said to have barricaded herself to the extent that she has resorted to the use of heavily armed security men to deny court bailiffs the opportunity to serve her notice to appear before an Accra High Court on contempt charges.

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The Jean Mensah-led Electoral Commission as it is now is a pale shadow of the independent Electoral Commission it was supposed to be.

The presence of lawyer Jean Mensah, Dr. Eric Asare Bossman, Dr. Peter Appiahene as deputies and others as commissioners has turned the E.C into a suspected appendage of the NPP ready to prosecute a rigging agenda to make the ‘’break the eight’’ mantra possible.

Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution states that every citizen of Ghana, 18 years and above and of sound mind is entitled to be registered as a voter and to vote in public elections and referenda. Regulation 30 of C.I 91 enjoins the E.C to revise the voter’s register annually and to do so at the electoral area level. Articles 42 and 45 of the 1992 Constitution, and Regulation 2 (1) (2) of C.I 91 provides the following; ‘’in designating a place as a registration center, the commission shall take into consideration; (a) the suitability of the place for use as a pooling station on election day; and (b) the accessibility of the place to prospective applicants for registration.’’

In 2019, the E.C conducted a limited exercise in 1,500 electoral area centers. Why would the E.C now reduce the number of registration centers to 268 in spite of the fact that there are several millions of potential voters yearning for a chance to register. The E.C willfully denied Ghanaians who were 18 years and above the chance to register in 2021 and 2022, even though there was no lack of funds, shortage of equipment or personnel at the time.

In view of the illegalities associated with the limited registration, the NDC together with other opposition parties were at the Supreme Court to seek interlocutory injunction to halt the registration, only to be told that the Chief Justice was not available for a date of hearing and a judge to adjudicate. The Chief Justice emerges later to fix a date – 17 October, 2023 – for the court to determine a case of illegal registration which had been programmed to end in 2nd October, 2023. So, a limited registration issue of such huge constitutional significance, relevance and urgency has been twisted to make it look very stupid and irrelevant.

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Was this not done purely to delay justice, and is justice delayed not justice denied?  In other words, was the Chief Justice probably telling Ghanaians that there was no need for the case to be heard because the fate of the suit had been determined already? Is it then not fair to say the judiciary has been weaponized to perpetuate injustice against citizens who were supposed to benefit from it? So, what is the meaning of justice if citizens are not treated fairly, impartially and reasonably by the law?

Juxtapose this to a similar situation in 2012 when a Ghanaian citizen challenged the creation of 45 new constituencies at the same Supreme Court. The court at the time appointed a sole judge to decide the interlocutory injunction application in a timely manner even though it happened during legal vacation as it is happening now.

The E.C Chairperson Jean Mensah has been badly exposed. As the Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in 2016, she was one of the voices which called for the extension of a limited registration exercise for a period of two more weeks to enable citizens who did not have the opportunity to register to do so. This was when she was approached by the media for her comments on the limited registration.

Jean Mensah was quoted by an Accra based CITI FM as saying, ‘’ I will say to the extent that it has gone very well and a number of people have been registered. However, we followed the process quite carefully and we are also aware there are many others who would wish to be registered who did not have the opportunity and I know that we have said it will be proper that we do not disenfranchise people who are willing to vote for the first time.’’

Charlotte Osei was the E.C Chairperson at the time of the limited registration in 2016 and the E.C had announced a 92% success rate. The registration centers involved in 2016 were 6,000 (six-thousand), but Jean Mensah believes it is better to use 268 (two-hundred and sixty-eight) registration centers for a huge backlog of prospective registrants from 2021 to 2023. A voter suppression agenda in progress.

It looks suspicious that this same Jean Mensah, with the firm support of her deputies appointed for that purpose, has gone against her own principles and convictions. She has schemed hard, to break all relevant rules in the 1992 Constitution and Constitutional Instruments (C.I) 91 to ensure that citizens who are willing to register and vote for the first time are disenfranchised.

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Jean Mensa is said to be a trained lawyer, not only that; Ghana is blessed enough to have a Human Rights Lawyer as President, yet fundamental human rights of citizens are trampled upon in this registration exercise with impunity.

Out of guilty conscience and shame, Jean Mensah was said to have barricaded herself to the extent that she has resorted to the use of heavily armed security men to deny court bailiffs the opportunity to serve her notice to appear before an Accra High Court on contempt charges.  This amounts to evading and obstructing service. It appears she is now operating incommunicado with her deputies. In view of this, the court could resort to substituted service after three previous attempts had failed.

But why are Jean Mensa and deputies running away?

There was a plaintiff, a Ghanaian private citizen in court earlier on to seek an interlocutory injunction against the E.C for the limited registration to be stopped because of the extremely long distance she would cover and the cost involved to register and return home. Her place of residence was said to be over 44 kilometers (km) from the E.C District office in Prampram, using the Accra-Aflao road and about 37 kilometers (km) using the Akosombo Accra road. The court granted her relief and injuncted the process, but the E.C went ahead with the process, nevertheless.

Similar instances abound throughout the country which would prevent many citizens from registering and Jean Mensah is well aware of this. There are citizens living on water bodies in different parts of the country whose situation could even be worse.

According to the lawyer of the plaintiff, the commencement document and injunction were served on the E.C, but Jean Mensah and deputies, out of scorn, went ahead to begin registration. The E.C is now evading the concomitant suit because if they should be served with the contempt suit there would be no excuse for them when they are called before the court to explain why they should not be jailed, because this amounts to criminality. And among the reliefs the plaintiff was seeking is the imprisonment of Jean Mensa and her deputies.

The registration exercise has recorded significant challenges which require a serious review. The E.C targeted 300 (three hundred) citizens to be registered at each district office each day, but the reality is that figures recorded are far less below target. In addition, registration kits are unable to detect whether a citizen has already been captured in any previous exercise. Furthermore, malfunction of equipment is rampant in several centers. Moreover, bad communication network has also slowed down the registration process significantly in many centers.

In view of this, a review and extension of the program for two or more weeks would be most ideal. If no remedial action is taken, the success rate would not be anything to be proud of at the end of the exercise. The combined effect of the actions and inactions of two innocent-looking mothers of the land could lead to voter suppression and plunge the nation into chaos.

In conclusion, has the lackluster performance of the Chief Justice and the lawless behavior of Jean Mensa-led E.C, in relation to the limited registration, created an unfortunate impression of a well-oiled rigging process in full swing???





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