The Chamber for Local Governance (ChaLoG) has threatened to sue the Electoral Commission over the latter’s decision to procure a new Biometric Voter Management Solution and a new voters register ahead of the 2020 General Election.
In a Press Statement issued by the Chamber said it has taken the necessary steps to “invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to either annul the 2019 District Level Elections or place an injunction on the EC not to go ahead of the compilation of a New Biometric Voters Register.”
This comes after the EC made a case for the procurement of new BVRs and BVDs which it claimed were robust and user friendly than to upgrade old and obsolete ones,while considering a new biometric voters register ahead of this year’s elections.
“it would be prudent to acquire a new system rather than refurbish the current system. In the view of the experts, the cost of frequent replacement of failing parts and the renewal of warranties through third-parties was comparable to the acquisition a brand new system with full service and warranties. In effect the amount of money spent on refurbishing parts and renewing warranties could be used to acquire a brand new system that is robust, modern and durable user friendly with full functionality and warranties.” the EC said at a Press conference held last week.
But the Chamber for Local Governance (ChaLoG) in a counter statement said it’s taken aback by the Commission’s u-turn just after the 17th December District Level Elections to justify demands for Ghc 444 million of the Tax Payers Money to replace these same BVDs because according to them, they’ve become obsolete (immediately after the District Level Elections).
“Against this background therefore, the EC needs to urgently prepare to appear before the apex court to answer the following questions to clear the confusion in the minds of the Tax Payers whose sweat and toil it is seeking to profligately spend to procure new IT software and compile a New Biometric Voters Register.”
Below is the full statement by (ChaLoG)
CHAMBER FOR LOCAL GOVERNANCE (ChaLoG)
P. O BOX SK 330, SAKUMONO ESTATES, TEMA
ChaLoG TO INVOKE THE ORIGINAL JURISDICTION OF THE SUPREME COURT TO ANNUL THE DISTRICT LEVEL ELECTIONS OR INJUNCT THE EC FROM COMPILING A NEW BIOMETRIC VOTERS REGISTER
The Chamber for Local Governance (ChaLoG) has taken note of a Press Conference organized by the EC on the 31st December, 2019 justifying the need to compile a New Biometric Voters Register for the 2020 General Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. ChaLoG is completely at a loss why the EC will make such a call exactly two (2) weeks after the successful conduct of the 17th December, 2019 District Level Elections.
Ghanaians would recall that ten (10) days prior to the conduct of the District Level Elections, the EC met the representatives of political parties at an IPAC meeting and indicated to them that most of their Biometric Verification Devices (BVDs) were defective and not functioning well and hence there was the need to have these BVDs replaced ahead of the 2020 General Elections. The EC further indicated to the Political Parties that its IT System had become out-moded and hence not compatible with the BVDs which therefore will necessitate a compilation of a New Biometric Voters Register because the current Biometric Voters Register was defective and not credible.
On the basis of the aforementioned reasons, ChaLoG officially called on the EC to as a matter of urgency postpone the 17th December District Level Elections. The EC in a sharp response through a Press Conference once again made it abundantly clear to all Ghanaians that the current Biometric Voters Register was very credible just that it was over-stretched, that notwithstanding, the Commission had taken all the necessary measures to ensure that all the BVDs and BVRs worked successfully without any let or hindrance.
Just after the District Level Elections, the EC came out publicly to tout its successful conduct of the 17th December, 2019 elections with respect to the planning, preparation and execution. The same EC indicated to Ghanaians it spent $2 million to prepare the BVDs to conduct the District Level Elections in all 28,921 Polling Stations (but for 3 Electoral areas) across the country and all the BVDs functioned effectively and none of the BVDs malfunctioned on the Election Day (a position amply corroborated by CODEO).
It is therefore surprising that the very same commission which spent $2 million of the Tax Payers Money to prepare the BVDs is now telling Ghanaians that these same BVDs have become obsolete (immediately after the District Level Elections) and hence cannot be compatible with its new IT Software so the Tax Payers Money of Ghc 444 million should wantonly be dissipated on a new IT Infrastructure and the compilation of a New Biometric Voters Register.
Against this background therefore, the EC needs to urgently prepare to appear before the apex court to answer the following questions to clear the confusion in the minds of the Tax Payers whose sweat and toil it is seeking to profligately spend to procure new IT software and compile a New Biometric Voters Register:
1. Is the EC intending to create more Polling Stations in addition to the current 28,921 Polling Stations to conduct the 7th December General Elections?
2. How many BVDs did the EC deploy to the 28,921 Polling Stations to conduct the District Level Elections (DLE)?
3. Has the BVDs that the EC spent $2 million on to conduct the District Level Elections become obsolete immediately after 17th December, 2019?
4. Why is it not possible to spend the same amount ($2 million) on the very same BVDs to conduct the 2020 General Elections (assuming they all became obsolete just after the 2019 DLE?
5. What was the percentage of voters who could not be verified biometrically by the BVDs in the immediate past DLE?
6. Did the EC procure any new BVDs for the 2018 Referendum to create the Six (6) New Regions which recorded an average of 98% voter turnout?
7. How much did the EC spend to clean up the BVDs that were used to conduct the 2018 Referendum to create the Six (6) New Regions?
8. Did the EC spend any part of the $2 million on the procurement of any new BVDs to conduct the 2019 DLE?
9. At what point in time did the EC notice that their BVDs have become obsolete and IT Systems also becoming outmoded?
10. Why can’t the EC simply organise a National Stakeholders Forum of IT Experts to brainstorm on the best way forward, rather than seeking to wantonly dissipate Ghc 444 million of the Tax Payers Money just to throw away all the BVDs which with all intent and purposes are functioning well?
ChaLoG is therefore of the firm conviction that the reasons so far advanced by the EC to procure a new IT System and compile a New Biometric Voters Register are simply unjustifiable and untenable.
The continual insistence of the EC to go ahead to compile a New Biometric Voters Register in spite of the overwhelming evidence of the effective functionality of the BVDs for the 2012 General Elections, 2015 District Level Elections, 2018 Referendum and 2019 District Level Elections is only an attempt to create a problem which simply does not exist by the EC to create a fertile grounds to go ahead to needlessly and intentionally wantonly dissipate a whopping Ghc 444 million of the Tax Payers Money just for the sake it.
ChaLoG has therefore taken the necessary steps to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to either annul the 2019 District Level Elections or place an injunction on the EC not to go ahead of the compilation of a New Biometric Voters Register.
This decision has been occasioned by the pronouncement of the EC by serving notice of compiling the New Biometric Voters Register for the 2020 General Elections less than two (2) weeks heading to the 2019 District Level Elections.
In the honest view of ChaLoG, District Level Elections are as equally important as the 2020 General Elections and the EC cannot purport to use a ‘defective’ BVR and BVDs to conduct the DLE which was conducted in the 28,921 Polling Stations same as would be used in the upcoming General Elections on 7th December.