From Richard Attenkah, Tema
The District Assembly and Unit Committee elections, scheduled to take place on December 28, 2010, could suffer a serious set-back, following a writ filed at the Supreme Court by a group of people from the Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal Assembly (LEKMA), to restrain the Electoral Commission (EC) from going ahead to conduct the elections, based on the new Local Government Legislative Instrument (LI) 1983, which came into force on November 24, 2010.
The group is also seeking a declaration from the highest court of the land that the LI 1983 was made in contravention of article 11(7) of the 1992 constitution. The plaintiffs are further seeking an order from the court to declare the LI 1983 null and void, and of no legal effect.
The plaintiffs are Stephen Nii Bortey Okane, Sheriff Bortei Borquaye, Anum Kattah, Eric Tawiah, Edward Borketey and Alfred Mensah Tawiah. Also joined in the suit are the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
In their statement of claim, the plaintiffs said article 11 (7) of the 1992 Constitution says; “Any order, rule or regulation made by a person or authority under a power conferred by the constitution or any other law shall (a) be laid before parliament and (b) be published in the gazette on the day it was laid before parliament.
“And (3) come into force at the expiration of 21 sitting days after being so laid, unless parliament, before the expiration of 21 days, annuls the order, rule or regulation by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of parliament.”
According to plaintiffs, on October 19, 2010, Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, laid the Local Government (creation of new district electoral areas and designation of units) LI 1983 before parliament, after cabinet’s approval and gazette, in accordance with the Constitution.
They claim further that before the LI 1983 came into force, each of the two traditional areas that formed the Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal Assembly (LEKMA), that is, Ledzokuku (Teshie) and Krowor (Nungua), had four electoral areas, but when the LI 1983 was laid before parliament, the number of the electoral areas increased from four (4) to 12 each.
However, “Pursuant to Order 77 of the Standing Orders of Parliament, the Hon. Speaker of Parliament referred the Instrument to the Subsidiary Committee on Legislation, which said Order has pari materia with article 11(7) of the 1992 constitution,” they noted.
The plaintiffs continued that when finally, Parliament announced the coming into force of the LI 1983, they discovered that the number of the electoral areas within the Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipality, which was 24, had become 28, with Krowor maintaining the 12 electoral areas, but Ledzokuku moved up to 16 electoral areas.
The plaintiffs contend that the LI 1983, as gazetted on October 19, 2010, and referred to the committee on subsidiary legislation, was not what has now been passed as LI 1983.
“This is because the Ledzokuku-Krowor list of electoral areas of 24, which dramatically changed to 28, was not as a result of not less than two-thirds of all members of parliament annulling the said instrument, before the expiration of 21 sitting days, in accordance with article 11(7) of the constitution,” the plaintiffs explained.
Quite apart from that, they said the EC had also declared its intentions, and in fact, given out clear notices for the conduct of the district assembly and unit committee elections, scheduled to take place on December 28, 2010, based on the LI 1983.