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General News of Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Supreme Court rules on NDC joinder application today

The first hurdle to the legal challenge of the results of the December 2012 presidential election is expected to be cleared by a nine- member panel of the Supreme Court in Accra today.

Presided over by Mr Justice William Atuguba, the court set today to rule whether or not to allow the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to join a petition challenging the declaration of President John Dramani Mahama as winner of the election.

Other members of the panel are Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Annin Yeboah, Mr Justice P. Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto- Bamfo.

After the court's ruling, the registrar of the Supreme Court is expected to fix a date for the hearing of the substantive petition and communicate it to parties in the case.

The election petition, which has the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the December 2012 elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, as the petitioners, is expected to be heard on a daily basis per the new Supreme Court rules.

Rule 69 C (5) of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Rules, 2012 (CI 74) provides in part as follows: "The court shall sit from day to day, including public holidays" for the speedy disposal of a presidential election petition.

By virtue of provisions in CI 74, the matter will be determined once and for all, since no provision is made for a review of the court's decision.

Unlike in other cases where the Supreme Court is open to the public, attendance to the court proceedings is strictly by invitation and under very heavy security.

On January 16, 2013, lead counsel for the NDC, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, moved the motion for joinder and prayed the court to allow his client to join the petition as a respondent because the name and the symbol of the NDC were displayed against President Mahama's photograph, adding that it would "advance the interest of justice" if the NDC was made to join the petition as respondents.

He denied assertions that the NDC's application for joinder was intended to delay the petition and argued that the party filed its motion three days after the filing of the petition.

Counsel for the President, Mr Tony Lithur, associated himself with the NDC's application for joinder and, accordingly, prayed the court to grant it.

The EC, for its part, declined to react to the opposing the motion, one of the lawyers for the petitioners, Mr Philip Addison, said the motion for joinder would delay the trial and, therefore, draw back the purpose of the new Supreme Court rules aimed at expediting the hearing of petitions challenging results of presidential elections.

The petitioners, on December 28, 2012, filed a petition at the Supreme Court challenging the election results on the grounds that the EC deliberately manipulated the results his client was alleged to have committed was not rape, murder, robbery, defilement or any related first degree felony charge and to favour President Mahama.

But the NDC filed a motion for joinder on December 31, 2013, arguing that it was an interested party because the President stood for the elections on its ticket.

The EC has debunked claims by the petitioners on the grounds that the election results were credible.

President Mahama has also filed his defence and accused the petitioners of attempting to subvert the will of the people by calling on the Supreme Court to annul the election results.

He also intends to call a record number of 4,800 witnesses.

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