The legal tussle over the disqualification of the presidential aspirant of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, from the upcoming general election will be heard by the Accra High Court on October 25, 2016.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice Eric Kyei-Baffour, fixed the date yesterday after it had granted a request by the Electoral Commission (EC) seeking for an abridgement of time in the hearing of an application for judicial review filed by Dr Nduom challenging his disqualification by the electoral body.
It will also fix the date for a ruling on the matter on October 25, 2016.
The two parties are, therefore, expected to make their oral submissions on the said date.
The hearing would have taken place after four weeks if the court had not granted the request by the lawyer for the EC, Mr Thaddeus Sory.
Counsel for the Dr Nduom, Mr Ayikoi Otoo, agreed with the abridgement of time and said “we are also eager for this matter to be disposed of”.
In granting the application, Mr Justice Kyei-Baffour said after hearing lawyers for the parties, the court was of the view that time was of essence.
He said there was the need to ensure that preparations by the EC towards the December 7, 2016 elections were “not needlessly stultified by the court proceedings. I will, accordingly, grant the application”.
The court also directed the parties to simultaneously file their statements of case by Monday, October 24, 2016.
It further granted a request by Mr Otoo to serve the EC with his client’s supplementary affidavit in reply to the EC’s response via email for an expeditious trial.
That was after Mr Otoo had informed the court that Dr Nduom was out of the country.
Yesterday’s court proceedings attracted scores of supporters of the PPP who invaded the Law Courts Complex with singing and dancing.
Chanting PPP songs and songs of praise for Dr Nduom, the supporters embarked on a procession from one end of the complex to the other, a situation that led to heavy vehicular traffic in front of the complex.
While drumming and dancing, the supporters carried placards, some of which read: “JM TWASO na NDUOM Ntoaso’’, “Embrace change, vote Dr Nduom for REAL JOBS’’.
Dr Nduom has filed an application for judicial review praying the High Court to quash the EC’s decision to disqualify him from contesting the December 7, 2016 presidential election.
He also wants the court to restrain the EC from proceeding with balloting for positions on the ballot paper for the 2016 presidential election.
The applicant wants a further order directed at the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei, to grant him (Dr Nduom) “the opportunity to amend and alter the one anomaly” found in his nomination papers, as well as accept his nomination forms as amended and/or altered, to enable him to contest the December 7, 2016 election.
Ms Brigitte Dzogbenuku (2nd left), the running mate of the PPP presidential aspirant, and some members of the party leaving the court premises after yesterday’s proceedings. Picture: EMMANUEL EBO HAWKSON
The EC, on Monday, October 10, 2016, disqualified Dr Nduom and 11 other presidential aspirants from contesting the December 7, 2016 elections for various reasons, ranging from forgery to impersonation and perjury.
But the applicant is accusing the respondents of breaching the rules of natural justice and failing to live within the requirement as imposed by law.
He is also bringing the action on the ground that, per the records available, the respondents erred.
According to the EC, the PPP presidential aspirant’s call on the High Court to quash the EC’s decision to disqualify him from contesting the December 7, 2016 presidential election was incompetent and must, therefore, not be granted.
The EC, in an affidavit in opposition sworn on its behalf by Mrs Osei, is asking the court to declare that “the applicant’s instant motion is woefully incompetent and does not properly invoke the jurisdiction of the court for the reliefs sought and that being an originating process, our lawyers shall, in the course of responding to the application at its hearing, pray the court to dismiss the application in limine”.
According to the EC, Dr Nduom was seeking judicial sanction for his inexcusable and reprehensible conduct in submitting his nomination forms on the very last day, hoping that the pressure of work on the day would render it impracticable for the EC to detect that his nomination papers included impersonated subscribers.
Describing Dr Nduom’s conduct as “despicable”, the EC said he did not deserve any favourable exercise of the court's discretionary power, especially when the EC acted strictly in accordance with law and in accordance with its constitutional and statutory mandate.
Vehemently opposing Dr Nduom’s application, the EC said the electoral calendar had already suffered some delay by reason of lawsuits, and for that reason suits like Dr Nduom’s would further derail the electoral process.