General News of Wednesday, 16 January 2013
Source: Daily Guide
The Supreme Court will today resume hearing of the case in which the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is challenging the validity of John Dramani Mahama as President.
This was after the NPP’s petitioners, led by the party’s 2012 presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo backed down on their opposition to the composition of the Supreme Court panel, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, the second most senior member of the Ghanaian Bench.
Owing to the NPP’s current desire foe expeditious hearing, the court registry fixed tomorrow for the hearing of the National Democratic Congress (NDC)’s motion to join the case.
The ruling NDC was due to move a motion to join the case last Thursday because it said it was an interested party, but the NPP’s legal team objected to the composition of the nine-member panel.
The panel, chaired by Justice William Atuguba, asked the NPP to formally file its objection in the form of a motion to enable the court to take a decision.
The NPP’s move incensed the NDC legal team, led by Tsatsu Tsikata and President Mahama’s counsel Tony Lithur, who opposed the request, insisting the rule of the court did not permit any aspect of the matter to be heard in camera.
Even though the NPP did not make known publicly the name of the panel member, sources said the objection related to Justice Atuguba whose cousin, Dr Raymond Atuguba, is with the present government.
Dr Atuguba, said to have lived with Justice Atuguba, was recently appointed Executive Secretary to President Mahama, the first respondent in the NPP’s petition, and therefore the petitioners thought he should recuse himself in the interest of justice.
The Supreme Court was compelled to adjourn the proceedings indefinitely halting the entire legal tussle over who is the rightfully elected President even though Mr. Mahama has already been sworn in.
However, upon a second thought, the NPP legal team wrote to the Registrar of the Supreme Court last Friday, announcing its intention not to pursue the composition of the panel any longer.
The letter, signed by Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co and copied to Samuel Kodjoe of Law Trust Company, lawyers for NDC, Tony Lithur of LithurBrew & Co., lawyers for President Mahama and Lynes Quarshie-Idun and Co., lawyers for EC added: “This will in addition ensure an early hearing of the application for joinder.”
DAILY GUIDE learnt that the court accepted the NPP’s decision and thus fixed Wednesday, January 16 as the date for re-opening the case.
The NDC is therefore expected to move the motion for joinder seeking to be part of the case when it is called.
It is only after the NDC motion for joinder has been settled by the court that the petition by the NPP could commence.
The NPP filed a writ at the Supreme Court claiming that the EC Chairman, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, on December 10, 2012 called the results for President Mahama in spite of its claims that the EC needed to investigate alleged manipulation of figures before the declaration of the results.
President Mahama, in his personal capacity as a presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the EC, the body that supervised the December general elections, have been cited as respondents.
The petitioners are praying the highest court of the land to declare that “John Dramani Mahama was not validly elected president of the Republic of Ghana.”
An NPP-affiliated group, Militant Patriots, has called on Justice Atuguba to recuse himself from the panel.
The group, in a statement issued on Monday, said comments made by Justice Atuguba in response to the NPP’s protest in court had left him with no other alternative than to recuse himself from the case.
“We, of the Militant Patriots of Ghana (MPs), have been watching with unease the recent turn of events at the Supreme Court where a judge, Justice William Atuguba made comments which can only be described as highly reckless and prejudicial.
“By these comments, the said judge has left himself no other alternative than to recuse himself from the case involving Nana Akufo-Addo and others v John Mahama and EC.
“We are confident that with the benefit of hindsight, Justice William Atuguba himself will have come to the conclusion that his extra-ordinary outburst was ill-conceived, misleading and a serious error of judgement,” the statement signed by Michael Omari Wadie, Marlon Anipa and Kofi 1234 said.
The group noted that Justice Atuguba’s statement that “this country is solid but is breaking down because principles are being chopped down… This is not good” was in bad taste.
“Such definitive, conclusive and judgmental statements are normally reserved for end of trials and not at the beginning of trials.
How can Justice Atuguba serve as a judge in the light of such definitive statements? We find this as a rather highly extra-ordinary turn of events”, it stated.
“It reinforces the notion that anyone seeking redress after being a victim of crime is just another trouble-maker in an otherwise seemingly “peaceful” country.
It is as if their motivation is to unsettle the peace of the society,” it noted.
“It is our candid opinion that in order for him to recover some of his now very bruised reputation which is totally in tatters and especially to establish public faith in the judiciary, he should step aside.
We are calling on Justice Atuguba to do the decent thing and recuse himself as one of the judges in this matter. He cannot be impartial in this matter,” it said.