Some leading members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and their media hirelings have descended on Supreme Court judge, Justice Jones Dotse, following his attempt to interpret a ruling of the court in the matter involving Abu Ramadan, Evans Nimako, and the Electoral Commission (EC).
The apex court had ordered the EC to delete some names from the voter register but this generated controversy as the commission had its own interpretation of the order.
The Supreme Court had ordered the EC to take immediate steps to clean the existing register of not only deceased persons, but minors and those who used the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards to get their names onto the electoral roll.
The order has been subjected to various interpretations, particularly by NDC propagandists and their obviously dishonest intellectuals who have claimed that the order is confusing.
The EC, which appears to have been dictated to by some unseen hands, has said the judgment had nothing to do with removing names of NHIS card holders from the register and therefore resolved not to heed to any such calls – a position that is backed by the government and its assigns.
Justice Dotse therefore sought to clarify the Supreme Court’s order when journalists cornered him on the sidelines of a judges and magistrates’ conference in Accra and he said “I don’t want to interpret the judgment but as you heard it, the Supreme Court was quite forthright and clear that the use of the NHIS cards is unconstitutional…”
That, he said, was because “the criterion for the NHIS cards was not based on Ghanaian citizenship but only on residents in Ghana. So any foreigner who is resident in Ghana for six months and more can register under the NHIS card; that was the basis for our decision in 2014. The recent one we said the use of the NHIS cards is therefore unconstitutional; they should take the opportunity to clean the register of those undesirable persons. Therefore we also did not want to disenfranchise anybody so the Supreme Court went on to say anybody who will be affected by that exercise must be given the opportunity to register according to the law and the Constitution.”
These comments made by the judge have apparently provoked the attack dogs of the NDC to descend on him.
Meanwhile, private legal practitioner Ace Anan Ankomah has observed that there was no ambiguity in the Supreme Court’s pronouncement.
According to him, “It is no big deal… if a ruling has been given and he has the chance to clarify it, why can’t he… It is democracy; you can say that you disagree with him.”
He said the ruling was so clear, except to some mischief makers and crooks who wanted to undeservedly benefit from the status quo.
Amaliba’s First Shot
The first NDC member to comment on the erudite judge’s explanation was Abraham Amaliba, the party’s legal team member, who maintained that what Justice Dotse did was unethical.
“It is unethical for a judge to come out in the open to discuss his own judgement,” he said while speaking on Joy Fm, hours after the issue had become the talk of the town.
According to Amaliba, the comments of the Supreme Court justice bring his reputation into disrepute since he spoke like a “political commentator.”
Although he could not state the rule which expressly forbids a judge from public commentary on rulings, the NDC lawyer expressed disappointment in the judge, accusing him of “compromising himself.”
Despite a unanimous judgement by the Supreme Court, Amaliba said Justice Dotse’s view “cannot be the view of the entire court.”
Interestingly, the president’s representative at the National Media Commission (NMC) and managing editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, also punched holes in Justice Dotse’s comments.
He said because “Justice Dotse is not the Supreme Court,” his comments do not represent those of the Supreme Court.
That notwithstanding, he said the Supreme Court could not order the Electoral Commission to delete names from the voter register under the existing laws governing the commission.
Speaking on Peace FM’s ‘Kokrokoo’ morning show yesterday, he indicated that the EC could only remove names from the register through an arbitration process.
“The point is that the Electoral Commission must act within the law. When you look at all the constitutional instruments up to CI 91 and so on, none of them gives the power – suo motu – to delete names on the register.”
But the NDC as a party has distanced itself from these attacks on the learned judge.
Speaking on the issue, Deputy General Secretary of the party, Koku Anyidohu, said the NDC did not share the views expressed by Amaliba.
Instead, he said the party had gained greater understanding in “what the learned justice [Justice Dotse] of the Supreme Court said” and that they had learned something from it.
According to him, Justice Dotse only “went on to reiterate the position of his colleagues in the Supreme Court.”