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General News of Monday, 12 August 2013

Source: The Scandal

The Moment of Truth Draws Nigh: Nana or Mahama?

“This Court is adjourned until August 14. You realize that we did not talk. We just listened. So on August 14, we will meet so that we too can make comments and seek clarifications where necessary. You know the addresses are very voluminous so there will be a lot of reading to do. After the August 14 sitting, then we have the mandatory fifteen days to give judgment.”

With these words, Justice Atuguba, President of the nine-member-panel of Supreme Court Justices sitting on the 2012 elections petition brought last Wednesday’s sitting to a close and then the calculations and speculations began. When will Judgment day be? Fifteen days from August 14 brings the last possible day for Judgment to August 29, 2013, but it could come earlier if the Justices so decide. Whatever happens, before the close of August, we all will know who actually won the 2012 presidential elections.

However, even before the apex Court delivers its ruling, there are three possibilities which may evolve; either the First Petitioner, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo is declared outright winner of the elections or the status quo is maintained with President John Dramani Mahama being declared as the legally elected winner of the December 7, 2012 elections and lastly but not the least, the declaration that none of the litigating parties had votes as required by law to be declared an outright winner, and therefore, a re-run of the election must be held.

After hearing the 30 minutes addresses of each of the four Lawyers last Wednesday, Justice William Atuguba, President of the nine-member-panel hearing the case, said the court will return on August 14, 2013 to tie up some loose ends and seek clarification where necessary. After that, count of the mandatory 15 days within which the verdict must be given will begin ticking away, he said.

On 28th December, 2012, Lawyers representing the opposition party filed a petition at the Supreme Court, giving meaning to the party’s declaration it would seek the nullification of the results which saw incumbent President John Mahama and his governing National Democratic Congress retain power. The NPP contended that the president secured the win through fraud.

Chairman for the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan on December 9, 2012, declared President Mahama the winner in the presidential contest. The president obtained 50.70% of the votes whilst his closest challenger, Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP, polled 47.74% of total votes cast.

The NPP rejected the results, claiming the elections were rigged in favor of President Mahama and indicated its resolve to challenge the results at the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court. Leaders of the party at a well-publicized press conference insisted there was ‘incontrovertible evidence’ of widespread irregularities which favored the president and greatly impacted the final outcome of the poll.

The Vice Presidential candidate of the NPP in the 2012 elections, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who is the 3rd petitioner, took journalists through what he claimed were massive irregularities in the elections, stating that: “there are so many ways of stealing a vote, the same way there are so many ways of killing a cat,”

Days after the hearing of the case began in April, a private legal practitioner, Tony Benony Amekudzi, caused a stir in the courtroom by challenging the decision of the Supreme Court to hear a petition brought against President John Mahama. To Lawyer Amekudzi, who is now widely known as ‘Amicus Curea’, after appearing in Court in the capacity as a ‘Friend of the Court”, argued that per the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, no sitting president could be sued in any court within the jurisdiction. He called the petitioner’s case “frivolous” and “a dangerous precedent,” but the Supreme Court threw out his application.

Dr. Bawumia as the star-witness for the petitioners, was led in evidence by his Counsel, Philip Addison, after which Counsel for the first respondent, Tony Lithur, cross-examined him. Many people complained of the questioning line of Tony Lithur prompting the Court to direct that it will no longer accept the cross-examination method of Tony Lithur..

A letter dated 19th April 2013, titled “The mode of continuation of cross-examination of 2nd petitioner on pink sheets” and signed by Justice William Atuguba, himself, was sent to all parties in the Supreme Court case, where the petitioners are challenging the outcome of the 2012 elections.

Most observers watching the election petition expressed worry about Mr Lithur’s cross-examination of Dr. Bawumia after he spent about 5 hours pulling out just 38 pink sheets in his attempt to prove that Dr Bawumia’s evidence contained duplicate pink sheets. Observers were of the opinion that Mr Lithur was clearly attempting to ensure a non-expeditious determination of the case, a clear violation of CI 74.

There was a tussle over the exact number of pink sheets the petitioners filed at the Court Registry with the respondents claiming they had been served a lesser quantity. Although KPMG was brought in to count and audit the pink sheets filed by the petitioners, their report could not settle the controversy.

With proceedings gathering steam, the lawyers for the litigating parties on some occasions had to be scolded by the Judges for using words which the Court deemed not civil on each other. After issuing out stern warnings to both lawyers and social commentators to be mindful of their choice of words which were not heeded to, Justice Atuguba drew what he termed the “final touch line”.

Sammy Awuku, a Deputy Communications Director of the NPP was cited for crossing the “final touch line” making a contemptuous statement on radio and was subsequently banned by the Supreme Court from attending the hearing of the presidential election petition. The Court banned him after he had rendered an unqualified apology to the bench which had the support of all the Lawyers in the case.

The Court had the occasion to exercise its ‘mighty powers’ when it found both Ken Kuranchie, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Searchlight and Stephen Atubiga, an NDC Communicator guilty of criminal contempt. Ken Kuranchie and Stephen Atubiga were incarcerated 10 and 3 days respectively.

The Court will resume sitting this Wednesday after appraising itself with the addresses filed by all the litigating parties and ask for clarification where necessary.

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