General News of Sunday, 22 May 2016
A former Member of Parliament for Zebila, and private legal practitioner, John Ndebugri, has backed the Electoral Commission’s response to the Supreme Court’s ruling ordering them to clean the voters’ register.
The EC has explained that the ruling on the voters’ register did not instruct them to delete the names of those who registered with National Health Insurance cards as proof of identity ahead of the 2012 elections.
After studying the ruling, the EC has said their understanding does not suggest the use of any new process to delete the names of those who registered with NHIS cards, other than the existing processes for removing ineligible voters.
Speaking on Citi FM’s Big Issue, Mr. Ndebugri concurred with the EC’s interpretation of the ruling and maintained that the Supreme Court only sought to provide the EC with guidelines for cleaning the register.
“These guidelines revolve around the EC’s already existing processes that required them to display the register for those who registered with the NHIS card to have their nationalities verified. What justice Gbadegbe’s judgement meant was just to give guidelines on how to sort out matters and how to sort out matters is for the Electoral Commission to provide the opportunity for the register to be displayed for people who think that others who used, for example, the health insurance card to register were not qualified, to go and point them out.”
The Court’s ruling explained that persons who registered with NHIA cards, did so lawfully and the subsequent declaration of unconstitutionality in the Abu Ramadan case, did not automatically render them void.
Such a position according to the Supreme Court, would have the effect of disenfranchising the persons affected and such registrations should only be deleted by means of processes established under the law, a point that was reiterated by Mr. Ndebugri.
“They said you must do it according to the law and law is that, the register must be displayed. The electoral commission must compile the register. After compiling the register, it must display it, so that people who ought to be on it who are not on it will go and insist that they will be on it.”
He further insisted that the Apex Court said nothing about deleting people’s names from the register as some have claimed.
“That is what those two simple orders were about. It is not about going about and deleting people’s names. The Electoral Commission has no authority to delete names without any legal basis.”