The High Court in Accra will on Monday, January 14, 2019, hear an application seeking to set aside an interim injunction placed on the upcoming National Democratic Congress (NDC) conference to elect a flag bearer for the 2020 election.
The court, presided over by Mrs Justice Georgina Mensah Datsa, on December 18, 2018, granted the injunction after lawyers for the applicants moved a motion for stay of the elections until their grievances were determined.
Abdallah Issah, a branch Communication Manager and James Kabu Nartey-Oman, a branch Secretary in the Bortianor/Ngleshie Amanfro Constituency of the NDC, have sued the NDC as an entity over some of its decisions, including the eligibility criteria for applicants.
Counsel for the applicants, Mr Christopher King, moved the application for the grant of the interim injunction at the court’s sitting on December 18, 2018.
But lawyers for the NDC have filed a motion to have the order set aside.
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They have also filed a motion praying the court to dismiss the applicants’ suit as without merit.
The application praying the court to dismiss the entire suit will be heard on January 18, 2019.
Some of the grounds listed by the NDC to justify its call for the dismissal of the suit include the non-exhaustion of internal mechanisms for dispute resolution as set out by the constitution of the NDC.
Lawyers for the NDC are also arguing that most of the issues raised have been internally dealt with.
For instance, the initial filing fee of GH¢400,000 has now been reduced to GH¢300,000.
The NDC is of a further view that the applicants have not demonstrated that any of their personal rights or interest has been violated.
The writ, which was issued on December 18, 2018, is seeking some reliefs, including a declaration that the published guidelines for the conduct of the presidential election by the NDC in 2019 was null and void, ultra vires according to the NDC constitution, 1992.
The applicants are also seeking a declaration that the introduction of specific eligibility criteria as conditions precedent for presidential candidates, as part of the said guidelines provoke the letter and spirit of the NDC Constitution, are unlawful.
They also want the court to declare that the procedure adopted by the NDC via the National Executive Committee (NEC) in the preparation and presentation of the guidelines, together with the amendments without prior consultation of the National Council of Elders, are unlawful.
A further declaration that the usurpation by the Functional Executive Committee of the powers and responsibilities of the National Executive Committee in respect of the guidelines for the conduct of the presidential elections is unconstitutional.
An order directing the NDC to conduct its 2019 presidential election in a free, fair, transparent and inclusive manner in accordance with the NDC constitution and the canonical tenets of free and fair elections is also being sought.
They also want the court to restrain the NDC, its committees and agents from proceeding with the 2019 presidential election in the manner outlined in the said published guidelines and amendment until the final determination of the suit.
Case of plaintiffs
A statement of claim filed on the plaintiffs’ behalf by their lawyer indicated that the guidelines for the conduct of the presidential candidates’ elections ought to have been made in accordance with Article 42 (f) of the NDC constitution, which provides that “the National Executive Committee in consultation with the National Council of Elders shall issue guidelines on the election of a presidential candidate based on the provisions of this article”.
According to the plaintiffs, the guidelines, which were released on November 29, 2018, via the National Executive Committee, were not based on the provisions of Article 42 of the NDC constitution and for that reason were ultra vires.
They are also arguing that the criteria that a contestant must have been a paid-up member for at least ten years and further evidence of the contestant’s contribution to the party over the period were not in tandem with the NDC’s constitution.
They are also averring that the filing fees imposed on the presidential candidates were so high they amounted to a bar and fetter on some of the presidential candidates who were unable to pay what they termed “unreasonable and exorbitant” filing fees.
The plaintiffs are of the view the amount was so outrageous and in defiance of financial decency to the extent that “no honest and incorruptible presidential aspirant could possibly consider it reasonable or could afford to pay or both”.
The plaintiffs are submitting that unless the court intervenes to grant the reliefs being sought, the NDC would continue in defiance of the constitution and perpetuate grave electoral injustice upon the plaintiffs and the majority of the membership of the party.