General News of Thursday, 10 January 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
The Supreme Court will this morning hear the preliminary joinder motion filed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) seeking to join the petition by the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and the National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, challenging the Electoral Commission's (EC's) declaration of President John Mahama as winner of the December 7 presidential poll as a respondent.
After considering the application, the way will then be paved for the court to begin the hearing of the substantive petition filed by the three personalities.
Attendance to the court proceedings will strictly be by invitation and under very tight security.
The court has been given a new look. The inside has been painted, new carpets laid, some new air conditioners fixed, while electrical systems have been changed, among other renovation works.
The court building will be cordoned off to the public but not closed to vehicular traffic.
The Accra Regional Police Commander, Mr Patrick Timbillah, told Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday that attendance was strictly by invitation and that invitations had been sent to all political parties to nominate representatives for the hearing.
The media also need accreditation.
He said there would be both outer and inner cordons and a blockade of access to the court.
Mr Timbillah said among the policemen to be deployed would be undercover detectives who would ensure that pickpockets and other unscrupulous persons did not take advantage of the situation to unleash trouble on the public.
He appealed to the public and the media to cooperate with the police to ensure that sanity prevailed. He said those who did not have accreditation cards would be turned away.
The Director of Operations at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr Frank Kwofie, underscored the need for the heavy security presence and said it was necessary because the court premises would be flocked by an expectant massive crowd of supporters of the parties involved.
The respondents in the case are the EC and President Mahama.
The respondents have entered appearance and filed their replies to the petition.
However, the issue of joinder is a preliminary matter that has to be determined before the substantive matter can be heard.
By virtue of provisions in the Supreme Court (Amendment) Rules, 2012 (CI 74), the matter will be determined once and for all, since no provision is made for a review of the court's decision, although the Constitution says the court can review its own decisions.
Supreme Court rules which, among others, state that the hearing of a petition against a presidential election shall be done on a daily basis, including public holidays.
The filing of the petition gives meaning to the NPP's declaration that it would seek the nullification of the results which saw incumbent President Mahama and his governing NDC retaining power.
Article 64 (1) of the 1992 Constitution provides: "The validity of the election of the President may be challenged only by a citizen of Ghana who may present a petition for the purpose to the Supreme Court within twenty-one days after the declaration of the results of the election in respect of which the petition is presented" while Article 64(2) says: "A declaration by the Supreme Court that the election of the President is not valid shall be without prejudice to anything done by the President before the declaration."
Part VIII of the Supreme Court Rules — Challenge Of Election of President, Rule 68 — provides: "A petition presented pursuant to Clause (I) of Article 64 of the Constitution shall state (a) the full name and address of the petitioner and of his counsel, if any, which shall be an address for service; (b) the grounds for challenging the validity of the election; (c) a statement of the facts relied on to be verified by affidavit, and of the law in support of the petition; (d) the number of witnesses to be called, if any; and by (e) such other matters as the court may determine."
Rule 69 also says: "The Attorney-General and any other person upon whom a petition is served may file with the registrar, within 2 days of the service, an answer to the petition which shall state (a) the grounds of opposition to the petition; (b) the facts relied upon verified by affidavit; (c) the law in support of the answer in opposition to the petition; and (d) the number of witnesses to be called, if any."
Rule 71 says: "The court shall, at the conclusion of the hearing of the petition, deliver its judgment and the registrar shall, within seven days of the delivery of the judgement, forward a copy of the judgement to the Electoral Commission."
The Chairman of the NPP's Constitutional Committee and member of its legal team, Mr Ayikoi Otoo, had said the NDC procedure was improper and in contravention of Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution which harped on equality before the law.
He said the law did not allow unnatural persons (entities) to institute such actions, which was why the NPP did not file as a party but let its leadership do that.
Therefore, the term 'citizen' was subject to interpretation.
Mr Otoo insisted that the law did not envisage 'citizen'to include a legal person like a party, adding that a citizen was required to show or prove particulars of citizenship.
The NDC, he said, was not a natural person, noting that it was based on the maxim "equality was equity" that the NPP, as a party, did not file its petition in its name.
"If you look at the language used — 'the petition shall state the full name and particulars of the citizenship of the petitioner and how the citizenship was acquired — can the NDC acquire a citizenship of Ghana?" he asked.
However, a member of the NDC legal team, Mr Abraham Amaliba, had said, "Normally, when a matter is in court and you have an interest in the matter and you hear of it but fail to apply to join and a decision is given, you cannot go back to the same court and say that you were not a party to the suit but the decision has affected you."
He said it was for that reason that the law allowed one to join a matter in court, even though one was not a party to it but had an interest in the matter, adding that the NDC wanted to exploit that rule.
"Indeed, the Supreme Court could have also, on its own motion, asked that the NDC be joined, but we don't want to wait for that," he said.
"The NDC decided to join the suit because the party gave the President the platform and also sponsored the campaign and so whatever happens to him [President] will also affect the interest of the NDC as a party," he said.
On December 9, 2012, Dr Afari-Gyan declared President Mahama winner of the presidential contest, having obtained 50.70 per cent of the valid votes cast, while his closest challenger, Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP, polled 47.74 per cent of the valid votes cast.
The NPP rejected the results, claiming the elections had been rigged in favour of President Mahama, and indicated its resolve to challenge the results at the highest court of the land.
Leaders of the party insist there is ‘incontrovertible’ evidence of widespread irregularities which favoured the President and greatly impacted the final outcome of the presidential poll.