In the past 18 months, the Jean Mensah-led Electoral Commission has embarked upon a path riddled with copious and manifest legal violations and blunders. The recurring frequency of these blunders is unprecedented in the immediate history of the Electoral Commission since the establishment of the Justice D.F Annan-led Interim National Electoral Commission in the 1980s.
In 5 separate articles, I will explain each of these violations and blunders.
First Blunder: Creation of the Oti Region appears to be manifestly unconstitutional
The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Creation of New Regions (“Brobbey Commission”) had recommended the creation of the Oti Region out of the erstwhile Volta Region.
The Brobbey Commission proposed that the Oti Region should comprise the Biakoye District, Jasikan District, Kadjebi District, Krachi East Municipality, Krachi Nchumuru District, Krachi West District, Nkwanta North District, Nkwanta South Municipality and Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi Traditional areas. (Page xxv of the Commission’s report).
There was however an apparent legal/constitutional constraint to the creation of the Oti Region. By virtue of the Representation of the People (Parliamentary Constituencies) Instrument, 2012 (C.I. 78) Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi Traditional areas are located in the Hohoe Constituency of the Volta Region. (Pages 67 and 68 of CI 78)
In practical and legal terms, what this means is that the creation of the Oti Region with Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi Traditional areas being made part of the Oti Region will result in the Hohoe Constituency straddling or falling within the Volta Region and the Oti Region.
No Constituency shall fall within more than one Region
The Electoral Commission is to “divide” Ghana into “as many constituencies for the purpose of election of members of parliament” with the caveat that “No constituency shall fall within more than one region.” (Article 47(1) and (2) of the Constitution).
It is therefore absolutely shocking and unacceptable that the Electoral Commission woefully failed to appreciate the constitutional impediments to the recommendation of the Brobbey Commission that Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi Traditional areas located in the Hohoe Constituency of the Volta Region should form part of the Oti Region.
The Electoral Commission Perpetuated the Blunder
In order to resolve that constitutional impediment, the Electoral Commission should have realigned or readjusted the constituency boundaries of the Hohoe Constituency of the Volta Region in accordance with relevant constitutional provisions prior to the creation of the Oti Region.
Sadly, the Electoral Commission failed to do so, and instead compounded and perpetuated this shameful blunder through the enactment of the Referendum (Creation of New Regions) Regulations 2018 (CI 108) by including Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi Traditional areas located in the Hohoe Municipality and Hohoe Constituency of the Volta Region within the boundaries of the Oti Region.
Comedy of Legal Errors
In what looks like a comedy of legal errors, the President also perpetuated the same legal blunder. By the Oti Region Instrument 2019(CI 112) H.E President created the Oti Region out of the Volta Region with Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi Traditional area forming part of the Oti Region. (Page 3 of CI 112).
Now with the creation of the Oti Region through CI 112 and the inclusion of Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi Traditional area in the Oti Region the Hohoe Constituency now straddles the Volta Region and the Oti Region.
And that is patently and manifestly unconstitutional because Article 47(2) of the Constitution states in plain and unambiguous terms that “No constituency shall fall within more than one region”.
The President should revoke the Oti Region Instrument 2019(CI 112)
It is absolutely unfortunate that the aspirations of the people of the Oti Region for a new region have been jeopardized by the failure and or neglect of the Electoral Commission to pay attention to detail resulting in a shameful constitutional blunder.
Worse still, the taxpayers’ money appears to have been wasted in the conduct of a referendum for the creation of the Oti Region, which now looks like an exercise in futility.
Article 47(2) of the Constitution is so clear one wonders how the Electoral Commission and the Office of the Attorney General missed the patent constitutional injunction that “No constituency shall fall within more than one region”.
The creation of the Oti Region by the President through the Oti Region Instrument 2019(CI 112) is a manifest constitutional catastrophe and the President should consider revoking CI 112 and restarting the processes for the creation of an Oti Region that is not riddled with such obvious legal blunders.
Source: Dr. Abdul Baasit Aziz Bamba | School of Law, University of Ghana