Electoral Commission, stop these violations, blunders – Part II

The Electoral Commission has spearheaded the manifestly unconstitutional creation of the Oti Region. As a result, the Hohoe Constituency straddles two regions – the Oti Region and the Volta Region- in contravention of Article 47(2) of the Constitution.

In a troubling move, the Electoral Commission has attempted a futile remedy through the District Electoral Areas and Designation of Units Regulations, 2019, (CI 119) which has led to a complete legal mess, which I will explain shortly.

CI 119 alters the Electoral boundaries of the Hohoe Municipality while the electoral boundaries of the Hohoe Municipality/Constituency remain the same under their establishment instruments

Whereas the Hohoe Municipality was established by the Minister of Local Government through the Local Government (Hohoe Municipal Assembly) Instrument 2012 (LI 2151), the Hohoe Constituency was created by the Electoral Commission pursuant to the Representation of the People (Parliamentary Constituencies) Instrument 2012(CI 78).

Under both LI 2151 and CI 78 the Hohoe Constituency and Hohoe Municipality have the same 30 electoral areas. Therefore, a reference to the Hohoe Municipality is for all practical purposes a reference to the Hohoe Constituency.

In an extremely puzzling manner, the Electoral Commission pursuant CI 119 has readjusted and reduced the electoral areas in the Hohoe Municipality from 30 to 17 while the electoral areas in the Hohoe Municipality and Hohoe Constituency under LI 2151 and CI 78 have remained at 30. In the table below, I compare the electoral areas currently in the Hohoe Constituency/Municipality under CI 78/LI 2151 and CI 119.

Electoral areas in the Hohoe Municipality/ Constituency under LI 2151 and CI 78Electoral areas in the Hohoe Constituency/Municipality under CI 119Electoral areas in the Hohoe Constituency/Municipality under LI 2151 and CI 78 moved to the Buem Constituency/Jasikan District under  CI 119
AhadoAhado 
Tokono/TreviTsievi/Adabraka 
BlaveTokono/Trevi 
Gbi-BlaTokono/Blave 
Gbi-AbansiGbi-Bla 
Gbi-KpemeGbi-Abansi 
Gbi-WegbeGbi-Kpeme 
Kledzo/AtabuGbi-Wegbe 
Alavanyo KpemeKledzo/Atabu 
AbeheneaseAlavanyo Kpeme 
WudidiAlavanyo/Abehenease 
Agome/DzogbedzeAlavanyo/ Wudidi 
AkpafuAgome/DzogbedzeAkpafu-Odomi
Akpafu Mempeasem – Akpafu Mempeasem
Todzi – Akpafu Todzi
Adorkor/Sokpo – Adorkor/Sokpo
Santrokofi Gbonme – Santrokofi Gbonme/Gbordome
Santrokofi-Benua – Santrokofi-Benua
Lolobi Kumasi – Lolobi Kumasi
Lolobi Hunyeasem – Lolobi Hunyeasem
Likpe Mate – Likpe Mate
Likpe Bala – Likpe Bala
Likpe Bakwa – Likpe Bakwa
Agbozume –  Likpe Agbozume/Koforodua
Helu-FodomeFodome-Helu 
Amele-FodomeFodome-Amele 
Wli-AfegameWli-Afegame 
Gbledi-ChebiGbledi-Chebi 
Likpe Abrani – Abrani/Kurantumi

As you can see in the table above, the Electoral Commission has moved the electoral areas in italics namely, Akpafu-Odomi, Akpafu Mempeasem, Akpafu Todzi, Adorkor/Sokpo, Santrokofi Gbonme/Gbordome, Santrokofi-Benua, Lolobi Kumasi, Lolobi Hunyeasem, Likpe Mate, Likpe Bala, Likpe Bakwa, Likpe Agbozume/Koforodua located in the Hohoe Constituency/Municipality under CI 78 and LI 2151 to the Jasikan District/ Buem Constituency of the Oti Region.

The present situation whereby there are differences in the electoral areas in the Hohoe Constituency/Municipality under LI 2151/ CI 78 and CI119 is a source of needless legal, political and/or governance confusion.

Altering the boundaries of Constituencies

By readjusting the boundaries of the Hohoe Constituency/Municipality the Electoral Commission appears to have committed or about to commit another constitutional blunder. Article 47 of the Constitution provides clear rules on the creation and alteration of constituencies. The general formula for the demarcation of constituencies is that every constituency must have the same number of inhabitants with exceptions made to take into account “means of communication, geographical features, densityof population and area and boundaries of the regions and other administrative or traditional areas.” (Article 47(4) of the Constitution).

The Constitution further states, among other things, that any review or alteration of the boundaries of constituencies shall not take effect until after the next dissolution of the current Parliament in January 2021. (Article 47(6) of the Constitution). It will, therefore, appear to be unconstitutional for the Electoral Commission to alter or reduce the size of the Hohoe Constituency without complying with the laid-down rules under article 47 of the Constitution for the alteration of constituencies.  

The Way Forward

The solution to the Hohoe Constituency conundrum is for the Electoral Commission to review constituency boundaries, which from our recent past has been fraught with controversies, disputes and legal challenges. The Electoral Commission could minimize potential legal challenges to any such review process under article 47 of the Constitution by demonstrating more openness, transparency and accountability in any review process.

Conclusion

Without a doubt the Oti Region Instrument 2019(CI 112) is a legal anomaly; it presents a situation of the cart having been placed before the horse because the readjustment of the boundaries of the Hohoe Constituency should have preceded the creation of the Oti Region.

In order to remedy the constitutional blunder of the Hohoe Constituency straddling the Oti and Volta Regions, the Oti Region Instrument 2019(CI 112), which is premature and appears to have been rushed, should be revoked. The Oti Region can be validly and lawfully established at the earliest from the next dissolution of the current Parliament in January 2021 after the Electoral Commission has redrawn or readjusted constituency boundaries in Ghana in line with article 47 of the Constitution.

Let us not sacrifice fidelity to the Constitution for political expediency. Doing so is the surest way to undermine constitutionalism and the Rule of Law in our country.

Source: Dr. Abdul Baasit Aziz Bamba | School of Law, University of Ghana

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