Feature Article of Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Columnist: Rii, Jedd

Tempting Fate; The Foibles of the Fencing Brolly

If something has been established as a bad idea, it does not pay to seek to prove it wrong, even in ignorance.

If you want to know how it feels to have your head in a clamp, just swagger into a courtroom as if you own it. Whatever your foibles, it is very wise to show a great deal of respect and a healthy trepidation at the Supreme Court. It is not the place to be smug.

We have had some notable developments in the action by Messrs Akuffo Addo, Obetsebi Lamptey and Dr Bawumia, in their challenge to the 2012 Presidential Election. The latest milestone is the NDC being annexed to the lawsuit as an interested party [in solidarity to Mr Mahama]. Understandably, the party has hailed this as a significant victory, tagging it as being indicative that the Supreme Court is on their side.

I maintain that the action by the NDC was without merit, and being allowed into the lawsuit, cannot in anyway be interpreted in the manner as described by the party [as a win]. It will always be a bad idea to get yourself into a lawsuit. To illustrate, we have try and understand rulings from these highly distinguished and illustrious crew [the Supreme Court Judges]. There will not be any resort to complex legal phraseology or references; just plain, simple English.

The key to understand these illustrious men and women of the Supreme Court is “focus”. They never take their eyes off the task that they have to accomplish. The question is: Why was the NDC allowed to join the lawsuit?

The clue was given in the manner that the ruling was handed down; with six judges being in favour and three being against it. It was a majority decision, rather than a unanimous one [where all the judges give a single verdict]. It shows that three judges agreed that the NDC should not be part of the lawsuit. Having said that you would think, that the six judges who decided to allow the NDC’s petition, were in favour of the party‘s action. You would be wrong.

We will have to illustrate this with a comparison, which is enacted in millions of homes every day. For this purpose we would use an imaginary family; the Jones’ Family. The primary focus will be “conduct”.

Here is the illustration:

Mr and Mrs Jones have two children; a daughter in her teens and a younger boy called Mo. The parents usually help the daughter with the school work as they watch the news, while Little Mo who is very young is allowed to play on his console nearby, watch programmes in his room or play outside. Because Mo is boisterous and likely to disrupt his sister and also interfere with the news channel [he likes children’s channels] this arrangement is suitable for everyone.

Little Mo decides, that he wants to watch a programme on the living room media centre and attempts to disrupt his sister’s homework as a distraction. He is told, to either stay on his console, go outside and play or watch his programmes in his room. He chooses to go outside and start banging on the window with a cane, making a nuisance of himself.

The objective for the parents is to get the daughter to do her homework [the focus], while they listen to the news. The mother decides to use the soft approach and ask Mo, not to make such a racket with the cane. She would rather Mo did not anger his father, who could be harsh on him. However because Mo wants to be in the living room, he still engages in the racket. As the mother’s approach is unlikely to work, Mo father orders him into the living room and gets him to sit on a seat, with a warning “not to move an inch or else…”

So now, Mo is where he wanted to be, but not how he wanted it to be. Because if he so much as make an attempt to change the media channel, his father will bark at him: `Who told you to change the channel? Put it back where it was!’ And if he attempts to disrupt his sister’s work, the reaction from his father will be: `Who asked you to get off that seat. Get back in that chair!’. Little Mo is effectively under total control and stymied. His plan to seize control of the living room environment did not work. He is totally out of his depth.

For the parents, in spite of their differences on how to tackle Mo, they had a single objective and this interjection though unnecessary [had Mo behaved himself] will allow them to focus on the primary objective of getting the daughter to do her work in peace, while they catch up with the news.

By getting itself entrenched into the lawsuit, the National Democratic Congress as an entity, is now bound by the rules of conduct which affects all parties to the suit. They cannot have cane wielding gangs outside the courthouse and they cannot issue any caustic press conferences and public announcements on issues regarding the case, without the express agreement of the court. They will be bound by the conditions set for all the parties in the lawsuit, until such time that the case is concluded or the courts sees fit to lift any such restrictions.

What might appear unwittingly to the party as it clamoured for inclusion as a win, has in effect landed them in a very peculiar position. It really helps to have an inordinate amount of respect for the illustrate judges of the Supreme Court. It is always best practice, for a lawyer who takes a case for a client to court, to be in charge of that client and not allow him to dictate things which are out of kilter with best practices.

These illustrious men and women at the Supreme Court, are at the zenith of their game; they know all the arguments and they know all the shenanigans. There is absolutely nothing, that anyone can get past them without being caught out. What might seem like a big play, to the little parties posturing for their verdict is nothing, but the juggling of the pieces needed to complete the picture [a side show].

They will apply the same principles and fortitude to the case initiated by Messrs Akuffu Addo, Obetsebi Lamtey and Dr Bawumia as done on behalf of their party, their supporters and the nation. They will do so without fear or favour. No one should be under any illusion, that they can walk into the Supreme Court and change the channel. They cannot take control.

This channel will stay on the news.

Jedd Rii

PS. The forthcoming article by JR; `Taking the Law in Your Hands’ will be featured at a later date, to allow discussion on the issue of `disclosure‘, which is trending at the moment. Link; aabicoleridge@live.co.uk.