An Accra High Court has upheld a suit by the NDC member of parliament for Ashaiman, Mr Ernest Norgbey, challenging the refusal of the Electoral Commission to release information on the acquisition Commission’s Biometric Voter Management System (BVMS).
In a judgement Tuesday [July 21], the court has consequently ordered the EC to release the information to the court’s registry within 30 days for the benefit of Mr Norgbey.
Graphic Online’s Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson who was in court reports that per the decision of the court, the MP can apply for the information from the court’s registry after paying a fee of GHc1,500
Request for information
On February 3, 2020, lawyers for Mr Norgbey wrote to the EC requesting information on the procurement procedure used by the commission to hire the services of two consultants who were instrumental in the EC’s purchase of a new BVMS.
Mr Norgbey wanted to know if indeed the EC had hired the consultants — Dr Ofori-Adjei, an IT Consultant and Mr A. Akrofi, a procurement consultant.
Also, the MP wanted to find out that in the event the EC had hired the services of the two consultants, was the procurement of the services in tandem with the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).
The legislator requested for the information from the EC based on his fundamental human right to information guaranteed under Article 21 (f) of the 1992 Constitution which has been operationalised by the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2019 (Act 989).
However, the EC refused to release the information to the MP.
According to the EC, inasmuch as it recognised the MP’s right to the information under the Constitution and Act 989, it could not honour the said request because Parliament was yet to fix the fees one had to pay in order to request for information under Act 989.
As a result of the EC’s refusal, Mr Norgbey filed an application for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights pursuant to Article 33 (1) of the 1992 Constitution which made the High Court the court of redress for any violations of fundamental human rights enshrined under the Constitution.
Hawkson reports that in granting the application, the court, presided over by Justice Gifty Agyei Addo, held that, the MP’s fundamental right to information cannot be denied due to Parliament’s failure to enact legislation on the appropriate fees one needs to pay for information under Act 989.
“The inaction of parliament should not prevent the realization of constitutional rights of a person,” the judge held.
In an interview with the media after the judgement, Mr Norgbey thanked the court for upholding his rights.
He urged all citizens of Ghana to activate the right to information and request for information from public institutions.