The Electoral Commission (EC) was yesterday given the green light by the Accra High Court to collect filing fees from presidential and parliamentary aspirants in the upcoming general election.
With the application for interlocutory injunction dismissed, the court fixed Tuesday, October 11, 2016 for the hearing of the substantive case.
The court will also consider an application by the legal team of the EC for an outright dismissal of the case.
In an interview with the media after the dismissal of the application, the PPP’s Policy Advisor, Mr Kofi Asamoah Siaw, said the case was not over and that the party was hopeful of winning.
“We need to clarify the issue — what the court has dismissed today is an application for injunction. It will now go into the substantive matter. In the event that we win, the court has the capacity to order the EC to give us our money with interest,’’ he said.
The EC, on September 8, 2016, announced an increase in the filing fee for presidential candidates from GH¢5,000 in 2012 to GH¢50,000 and that for parliamentary candidates from GH¢1,000 in 2012 to GH¢10,000 in this year’s elections.
Per the directive issued by the electoral body, filing fees are deposits which will be confiscated should a presidential candidate fail to secure 25 per cent of the presidential votes and a parliamentary candidate fail to secure 12.5 per cent of votes in a constituency.
Not satisfied with the decision, the PPP dragged the EC to court, claiming that per the directive, the party had to come up with GH¢2,800,000 to cover the filing fees for its presidential candidate and 275 parliamentary candidates.
In its writ of summons filed at the court, the party described the approved fees by the EC as “discriminatory, arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable”.
It is, therefore, seeking a declaration that the proper instrument that the EC could employ to charge fees for presidential or parliamentary elections is a statutory instrument and not a constitutional instrument.
It also wants an order from the court to bar the EC from collecting the filing fees until the “appropriate statutory instruments have been passed in accordance with the appropriate legal regime’’.
At yesterday’s hearing of the application for interlocutory injunction, counsel for the PPP, Mr Dennis Oppong, argued that the filing fee fixed by the EC was not backed by law.
“It is not backed by the Representation of the People’s Amendment Law (ROPAL), CI 94 or any law,’’ he said.
He said PNDC Law 284 gave the EC the power to come up with regulations for the procedure for nomination of candidates and the deposit for filing fees
“These deposits are not backed by any regulations. Where is the law that has provided that the EC can charge presidential candidates GH¢50,000 and parliamentary candidates GH¢10,000?’’ he argued.
Mr Oppong also stated that the state had already funded the elections and, therefore, there was no need for the EC to charge the filing fees.
In his argument, however, counsel for the EC, Mr Thaddeus Sory, said the PPP’s claim that the application was made on behalf of other political parties was wrong because it was the only political party that had raised issues with the fees.
“It is only the PPP that is complaining; the NPP, the NDC, the NDP and other parties are not complaining,’’ he said.
He added that per the directive from the EC, the PPP would get a refund if its candidates got certain percentages of the votes that would be cast in the upcoming elections.
“The whole action is speculative. It is because the PPP knows that it will not get the required number of votes as directed by the EC for a refund,’’ he said.
Mr Sory further argued that there was, indeed, a law that gave the EC the power to fix filing fees.
“PNDC Law 284 says the EC shall provide the procedure for the nomination of candidates, while CI 94 states that the amount for filing fees shall be determined by the commission,’’ he argued.
“Why did you pay?’’
Another issue that came up was the PPP’s decision to attach the filing fee when it submitted the nomination papers for its presidential candidate to the EC, although it had filed an injunction against the collection of the fees.
“Why did you pay?’’ the presiding judge asked the party’s legal team.
Answering the question, Mr Oppong said the party effected the payment in order to make the nomination forms valid.
“You have to add the deposit to make the nomination valid, but the onus was on the EC not to accept it because of the injunction application,’’ he argued.