Supreme Court didn’t order automatic deletion of NHIS carders – Raymond Atuguba

Senior law lecturer, Dr. Raymong Atuguba says suggestions that the Supreme Court ordered automatic deletion of some names from the electoral roll are wrong.

He said, “first thing is that the Court ordered that the register should be cleaned and by cleaning, the Court meant that people whose names should not be on the register should be taken out.”

Dr. Atuguba was speaking on Joy FM and MultiTV’s News analysis programme, Newsfile, on the raging controversy over the Supreme Court judgment on the voters’ register.

Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako went to the Supreme Court asking for a number of things including the removal of names of persons who used the NHIS card as proof of citizenship to register to vote from the voters’ register.

The Court in an earlier judgment in 2014, had declared the card unconstitutional as a document conferring citizenship.

On the back of this judgment, the plaintiffs asked the Court to order the EC to declare the electoral roll unconstitutional because of the presence of persons who used the outlawed card to register on the electoral roll.

The Court refused to hold that the voters’ register was unconstitutional and void but said it was neither reasonably credible and accurate.

To that extent, the Court ordered “That the Electoral Commission takes steps immediately to delete or as is popularly known ‘clean” the current register of voters to comply with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution, and applicable laws of Ghana.”

Dr. Atuguba who teaches law at the University of School of Law, said, “The court did not order that they should be automatically taken out and the Court did not order that they should be struck down.”

He said if the Court was so minded, it could have on its own, “struck out the names of all persons who do not qualify to vote. They have the power to do that but they declined to do that.”

According to him, the Supreme Court  could “have ordered the Electoral Commission to automatically take out all the names of all the people who shouldn’t be on the register; the Supreme Court declined to do that.”

Dr Atuguba said the Court declined primarily because it is inappropriate for a court to “over meddle in the internal functioning of  an independent constitutional body. It is not only inappropriate, it is impracticable for the Supreme Court to watch over the functioning of the Electoral Commission on a day-by-day basis.”

For him, the Court’s declaration that “…the current register of voters which contains the names of persons who have not established qualification to be registered is not reasonably accurate or credible,” is immaterial.

What is important, he argued, is that the apex court declined an invitation to declare the register unconstitutional.

He said it is not practicable for any country to have an accurate voters’ register.

“The elections can be run on a register that is not credible and that is not accurate. In fact, 99% of all registers all over the world –  as Jon Benjamin (UK High Commissioner ) has told us – is not credible and not accurate; it is impossible to register millions and millions of voters and get an accurate register,” he said.

Dr. Atuguba argued that attaining a credible and accurate register “is a hope, a wish an aspiration we work towards.”

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