A youth group calling itself Coalition of Concern Citizens of Upper West Region has petitioned opinion leaders in the region against the compilation of new voter’s register by the Electoral Commission of Ghana that has just finished its pilot registration exercise ahead of its intention to compile a new voter’s register.
In their petition issued on Friday June 5, 2020, they stated that the commissions move to compile a new register was unlawful and a breach to certain clauses of the 1992 constitution of Ghana hence the need for opinion leaders to intervene and call the EC to order.
The group also indicates its inability to fathom the motive behind the EC’s bid to produce a new register, said the EC is going contrary to article 45 of the 1992 constitution and as well as article 42 of the constitution. They added that the constitution also mandated the National Identification Authority to register and issue each Ghanaian fifteen years of age and above, an identification card adding that, the recent registration embarked upon by the NIA in the Upper West Region only captured 146,976 out of an estimated eligible voter population of 472,391 stressing that, out of the 146,976 people that were captured only 24,247 representing 5.17% were issued with ECOWAS Identification cards.
Below is the full petition:
COALITION OF CONCERNED CITIZENS,
A PETITION TO OPINION LEADERS IN THE UPPER WEST REGION AGAINST THE COMPILATION OF A NEW VOTERS REGISTER BY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION (EC).
Date: Friday 5th June, 2020
We the under signed,sons and daughters of the Upper West Region, acting in the interest of the stifled masses in the UWR, wish to humbly petition your highly respected and revered outfits, for the following reliefs;
to call on the EC,by way of a press conference or release, to discontinue its program to compile a new voters’ register for the 2020 general elections for the following reasons; and
to call on the NIA to come to the Region,at an appropriate time, to continue with the registration exercise it commenced in November 2020.
Our humbly prayer is based on the following reasons;
- That it is unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void abomination, to attempt to compile, or compile a new voters’ register, and
- That the registration of voters based on the regulations of C.I. 126 will denationalize a majority of the sons and daughters of the Upper West Region, thus rendering them non-Ghanaians, stateless and permanently disenfranchised to vote in any election or referenda in the Republic of Ghana.
- Article 45 paragraphs (a) (c) and (e) of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992, clearly confers on the EC the functions to compile the register of voters and revise it at such periods as may be determined by law; conduct and supervise all public elections and referenda; and to undertake programs for the expansion of the registration of voters;among others. For the avoidance of doubt, I quote the said Article 45 (a) (c) and (e).
“45. The Electoral Commission shall have the following functions –
- to compile the register of voters and revise it at such periods as may be determined by law;
(c) to conduct and supervise all public elections and referenda;
(e) to undertake programs for the expansion of the registration of voters;”
- Article 45 (a) uses the phrase “the register” because Article 42 of the Constitution grants a right to vote to every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind. The Article goes further to say that for the purpose of voting, such a citizen, is entitled as of right, to be registered as a voter. Since the 1992 Constitution came into force on the 7th of January 1993, after the 1992 general elections, a register of voters has to be compiled by the EC for future elections and referenda. The combined effect of Articles 42 and 45 is to constitutionally empower the EC to compile a register of voters and revise it periodically as determined by law.
- To effectuate Article 42 of the Constitution, theEC compiled a register of voters in 1995 and has subsequently revised the register atsuch periods as determined by law. The current EC has decided to act contrary to this clear injunct of the law. The current EC, under the chair of Mrs. Jean Mensah, isfeverishly making preparation to compile a new register and not to revise the existing register, in complete violation of the clear and unambiguous provisions of Articles 42 and 45 of the Constitution.
- In furtherance of this program, the EC has presented to Parliament a Constitutional Instrument, C. I. 126, to amend C. I. 91 and regulate the process of how to compile a new register and conduct the 2020 general elections. After a number of faulty steps, the EC finally presented C. I. 126 to Parliament on the 31st March 2020. This Instrument is due to come into force on the 10th of June 2020 with the passage of 21 sittings days of Parliament unless otherwise annulled by the votes of two-thirds majority of all Members of Parliament (MP). With the nature of politics in Ghana and the large majority of the MPs coming from the Party in power, it is an impossibility to have two-thirds of the MPs vote to annul the Instrument.
- I. 126 has prescribed the National Identity Card or a Ghanaian Passport as the only documents for a prospective voter to present to be eligible to be registered as avoter in an election or referenda in Ghana. In the absence of these documents, a proviso opens a door of opportunity to a prospective voter to get two persons who possess either one or both of those documents to attest to the citizenship of the prospective voter before he/she could be registered as a voter.
- It is a notorious factthat only an infinitesimal number of citizens from the Upper West Region are in possession of Ghanaian Passports as travel documents outside Ghana. Your Majesties, as you know, are not an exception to the lack of ownership of Ghanaian Passport.
- The NIA is mandated to registerGhanaians of fifteen years and aboveand issue each registrant with a national identity card. A recent exercise embarked by the NIA to register residents of the Upper West Region,on the 11th to the 30th of November 2019 captured the names of only 146, 976 out of an estimated eligible voter population of 472,391. Out of the number of 146,976 registrants, only 24,427 of that number,representing a woeful 5.17%, were issued with ECOWAS IDENTITY CARDS which cards refer to the nationality of each registrant as a Ghanaian. The remaining 447,964 registrants, representing 94.83%, are left disappointed and crying for their own.
- The EC has disclosed to the public that it is programmed to commence the registration of voters for the purposes of the December 2020 general elections in June 2020. Considering the time limitation imposed by COVID-19, this is not only impracticable but simply defies common sense and will surely disenfranchise a lot of eligible voters if the EC is allowed to proceed on this dangerous path.
- For the purposes of emphasis, it is important to remind Your Majesties that, C. I. 126 permits the EC to register only persons in possession of either a Ghanaian Passport or a NIA Card as voters. In the absence of both documents, a window of opportunity is provided for the attestation of two persons with either of those two documents, to validate the forms of registration of each of a number of ten prospective voters as Ghanaian citizens, before a single person could be registered as a voter.
- By the provisions of the 1992 Constitution, to qualify to register as a voter, one must be a Ghanaian citizen and of eighteen years and above and of sound mind (Art. 42). Citizenship of Ghana is mainly by birth. See Arts. 6 to 9 of the 1992 Constitution, as amended and Sections 1 to 8 of the Children’s Act, Act 591,(2000). It goes without saying that the date of birth of a person determines the age of that person. Thedocument that captures the birth of a person is a birthcertificate. Without a birth certificate, age is open to conjecture. Which document can better prove the age of a prospective voter to be eighteen or above than a birth certificate? Yet, the EC says a birth certificate is not a requirement of proof of citizenship for a prospective voter to register as a voter.
- Again, for a person to process a Ghanaian Passport, the first document to prove that you are a Ghanaian is a birth certificate. The same for the acquisition of the ECOWAS IDENTITY CARD. Yet, the EC, by providing for only theGhanaian Passport and the ECOWAS IDENTITY CARD in the regulations of C.I. 126 is simply saying that those two documents are a better proof of the age of and citizenship of a Ghanaian than the birth certificate. This is weird.
- It is clear from the above that if the EC is allowed to go on with its planned program, many people from the Upper West Region will be denationalized and made non-citizens of Ghana. In other words, they will cease to be citizens of Ghana and rendered stateless. This will also sin against the provisions of the United Nations Convention on Stateless Persons.
- From the above, it is our submission that the EC is acting in concert with the NIA to undermine the identity of the masses of our people, as citizens of the Republic of Ghana and further deny the masses of our people their inalienable constitutional right to vote in the upcoming December, 2020, generalelections. This will ultimately have adverse repercussions on the representation of our people in future governments and the development of the Region.
- Your Majesties, it is appropriate to avert our minds to the fact that, the figures on the voter’s role from any particular geographical area do not serve only the purpose of elections, but such figures contribute significantly in determining the distribution of the national cake as well as for purposes of creating new Constituencies, Districts, Municipalities and Regions. It is our concern that should the Electoral Commission be allowed to proceed with this unpopular registration, our Region will technically be disadvantaged in all these perspectives. Our fears are further accentuated by reports we gather from some of our kinsmen in Southern Ghana that, some of our people were physically restrained from registering down south because of their northern decent.
We are not oblivious of the fact that, articles 43, 44, 45 and 46 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992, establishes the EC, guarantees its powers and insulates it from external direction or control, except as provided by the same Constitution.It must be noted that Art. 46 specifically refer to “the direction or control of any person or authority”.It is our strong submission that this provision does not grant to the EC an absolute unregulated power. The EC is not the master of all that it surveys. The power of the EC derives from the Constitution. The Constitution in turn, derivesits legitimacy, authority and power from the sovereign power of the people of Ghana. There are ample provisions in the Constitution to buttress this point. See Articles 1, 12, 21, 42, etcetera.
The saying that our traditional rulers are the repository of the spirits and bodies of our people is a truism. It is therefore regretful to learn that the EC treatedthe respectedchiefs, atthe august National House of Chiefs, with the highest form of disrespect and contempt by not even an acknowledgement of a request to meet the EC. We are thus not surprised at the scornful attitude of the EC towards calls made by over 18 civil society organizations and the unabated agitations of The Inter- Party Resistance Against the New Voters’ Register for the EC to abrogate the idea of compiling a new voters’ register at this precarious moment.
It is our considered view that, the intransigence of the EC is sine qua non to derailing all the enviable democratic gains this country has chalked for about three decades now. It is our fear that, consensus building which has always guided all our democratic processes is being discarded for belligerence and intransigent posturing.
To avert a repeat of the disdainful attitude of the EC towards the revered National House of Chiefs, we humbly beseech you to rather call on the Commission by way of a pressconference or release.
Your Majesties, since time is of essence, we accordingly continue to humbly pray, with all due respect, to you to act speedily on our petition, sirs.
- The President, Upper West Regional House of Chiefs Wa.
- The Upper West Regional Peace Council
- The Catholic Bishop. The Diocese of Wa.
- The Regional Chief Imam. Wa.
- The Regional President. Ahamadiyya Muslim Mission. Wa.
- The Regional Chief Imam, Allasunna Wall Jamah. Wa
7.The President Local Council of Churches Wa.