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Opinions of Saturday, 22 February 2014

Columnist: Addai, Michael

After the so-called Supreme Court ruling

By: Michael Addai

Typically, some Ghanaians have a tendency of having a very short political memory and attention span, and therefore the inclination of repeating mistakes, some grave ones, over and over is very high. Hence, there is the need for some of us to take it upon ourselves to rehash the stories and events so that we keep them afresh in the minds of those sections of the population who happen to have short memories in order to save this country from going through the mistakes over and over again in concentric circles. There is the usual refrain that we should not dwell too much on the past but forget it and move on. Yes, we should certainly move on alright but No we should never ever forget the past! Does it look like we have learnt any thing at all from the past and are we still not stuck in the past, given what is happening in the country now? Haven’t we as a country gone through these problems before and did we learn any lesson from them? Apparently no, because we are so eager to quickly forget the past that we easily fail to learn any lesson from it and therefore keep on recycling those mistakes from the past. Sometimes, one wonders whether as a nation we are “going or coming”. Perhaps we should put our hands up and give up as some would like us to do but we certainly cannot and will not. That is why we should never underestimate the impact of the Supreme Court ruling on the psyche of Ghanaians.
On August 29, 2013, the nine-paneled members of the Supreme Court of Ghana, hearing the election petition case brought forth by the petitioners, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Dr. Mohammadu Bawumia and Obetsebi Lamptey (the 1st, 2nd and 3rd petitioners respectively) against the December, 2012 presidential results, by a majority of 5-4 ruled in favour of the respondents, John Dramani Mahama, The Electoral Commission and NDC party (the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively).
Perpetuation of Incompetence, Mediocrity, Impunity etc:
There should be no illusions about the implications of the majority decision of the court and more especially about the individual judgments that resulted in the majority decision. It is not a matter of crying over spilt milk, the implications are profound and wide.
All that hue and cry, all that raising of hell about people committing contempt of court and were sent to prison for it during the petition hearing, all those promises by some of the judges that the election petition hearing was going to be a game changer in the way we do politics in this country and our body politic, and then came the cementation of the proclamation of divine victory by the error president and his gullible followers by the alleged ‘dubious’ ruling. All that noise turned out to be nothing more than much ado about nothing, just blowing of hot air. Some of us really thought we were in for an insightful judicial treat that was going to profoundly deal a dirty blow to this culture of impunity on the part of public office holders and finally move this country forward on the path of a real probity and accountability. How wrong we were eh?
They must have congratulated and patted themselves on the back for a good work done, laughing and jubilating along the line, however, as if by design, that alleged “dubious” ruling by some of the Justices of the 9-paneled members of the Supreme Court that heard the election petition has succeeded in perpetuating incompetence, mediocrity, inefficiency, lackadaisical attitude, impunity and lack of public accountability on the part of public office holders in our present democratic dispensation in Ghana. The events on the ground so far since the verdict, i.e. the allegations coming from the NDC government own people of the influence brought to bear on some of the judges by some powerful individuals in arriving at their decisions, corruption allegations swirling around and recent developments of incompetence, inability or the unwillingness of state institutions to obey court orders and pursue those individuals and institutions who have been found to have duped the nation of millions of dollars through the infamous judgment debts payments, have sought to vindicate and prove some of us right in thinking that way. The P/NDC entity itself particularly this crop of people in the present government knew very well within their hearts that they were not capable and competent enough and therefore could not do the job of managing our economy and our political affairs but somehow, out of sheer spite and personal expediency, they influenced their way, with the help of gullible state institutions, into power, and now they had been given the license by the Supreme Court to continue to perpetuate their incompetence and mediocrity to the detriment of our dear country. Mark my word somewhere that after 8 years in power we would still be where we are now just as we were under their previous term of 19 years in power from P/NDC era. They will continue to rehash excuses and promises to deceive their gullible followers. Clearly, they are just in there for the money, fame, positions, fortune and the accolades, and not really cut out for the job. A classic case of square pegs in round holes and desperately living up to the expectation as a bunch of incompetent nincompoops!!
Evidence bearing out the suspicions of corruption and incompetence:
Most often than not in Ghana and elsewhere, our tolerance of incompetence and mediocrity has tended to fuel the perpetuation of corruption, inefficiency, lawlessness and impunity in our motherland. Rather than some of the judges enforcing and upholding the laws and regulations governing our elections and our public lives (even those entrenched and enshrined in our constitution), their judgment has now given free license to the Electoral Commission and by extension other civil and public institutions and individuals to disobey, sideline, circumvent and disavow the laws with impunity.
One should not be really surprised as such by the rumours and allegations of corruption against some of the judges especially when one considers the whole delivery of the judgment itself and how it was characterized by ineptitude, mediocrity and inefficiency. Without going into much detail with the apparent evidence, I will simply cite few instances of the judges own lack of attention to detail which has given rise to all these suspicions to buttress my argument further here.
For instance, the summary of the judgment was riddled with mistakes – suspicious errors so to speak! How could one Judge in the person of Justice Baffoe-Bonnie dismiss the petitioners claim of voting without biometric verification (one of the irregularities) on one hand and at the same breath grant the same claim then cancel the votes involved and order a re-run of the affected areas?(without even giving figures in his judgment to substantiate that). It is very difficult to believe that the summary judgment was read by none of the Judges and for that matter this so called error or fudge was not detected by any of the judges during the whole time they were held up in chambers before the judgment on that fateful day. Unless something fishy happened prior to the delivery that was unknown to the rest of the judges.
One would have thought that, taking on such assignment of high magnitude and importance, the nine-paneled judges of the Supreme Court, particularly its president, would have been more thorough, meticulous, efficient and competent in the discharge of their duties, at least, as far as the delivery was concerned but they failed abysmally on that front. Even when the error was eventually detected, instead of following the right procedure to correct it, it was left to the court registry to do so with a mere statement, leaving room and setting a dangerous precedent for court judgments to be changed by unscrupulous elements in the court registry. What a disaster! Furthermore, the court’s president broke his own promise after delivering the summary judgment that copies of their individual judgments were immediately available at the registry for interested parties to access but it took almost a week or two before copies could be obtained at the registry. Yet again, this apparent act of carelessness on the part of the court gave rise to the suspicions that alleged last minute changes were made by some judges to their prior judgments at the instance of some powerful forces.
Some of us have never been in love before with the way our judicial system has been made to work in the past under P/NDC dictatorship and just when we were beginning to love and admire the judiciary then came this alleged “dubious” ruling.
Now looking at the majority judgment itself, it was vacuous, obfuscating and shallow. When one reads through all the judgments by the various judges, one could confidently describe the judgments by Justices Atuguba, Gbedebah, Bamfo-Addo and Adinyirah as very vacuous and the reasons underpinning their verdict as obfuscating and inconsistent at best. Whilst they sought to put premium on the signatures of the polling agents, at the same time, they belittled and brushed aside the absence of signatures of the presiding officers who rather have been mandated by the constitution to do so. As for Justices Dotse and Baffoe-Bonnie one could again describe the reasons for their judgments as ambiguous and a huge dose of uncertainty. Whilst Justices Dotse and Baffoe-Bonnie respectively granted the claim of voting without biometric verification and the absence of signatures of presiding officers as electoral irregularities to the petitioners, and then cancelled the votes, ordered re-run of those affected areas, they failed, most importantly, in each case to give figures to substantiate their ruling and in the end their judgments were as fruitless, shallow and worthless as their so called road map to electoral reforms in the country.
Allowing democracy to work:
Some of us will vehemently disagree and will never ever understand how some of the nine-paneled members of the Supreme Court arrived at their rulings as adduced above but as democrats we have no choice but to accept the majority decision of the court in spite of the inherent flaws, and then move on, albeit grudgingly.
You see, democracy is not always about everybody agreeing to one thing. Democracy can be chaotic, messy and confusing. It is not for the tin-pot dictators neither is it for the faint-hearted ideologues from the left or right of the political spectrum. These characteristics make democracy so uniquely tedious and at the same time human. However, it is significant that and more so incumbent upon all players and referees of this democratic game to strictly adhere to the rules and regulations governing this game of democracy. Failure to do so makes this game worthless and meaningless which does subsequently lead to despondency and apathy in our society with its consequent agitation and insurrection.
It is in this vein that some of us are very alarmed and disappointed about the judgments and reasons given by some of those judges on the nine-paneled members of the Supreme Court that heard the election petition case, despite the overwhelming evidence that we witnessed in the court room which is contrary to their arrived conclusion. The very institution meant to protect and safeguard our constitution and by extension our democracy has wittingly or unwittingly appeared to have undermined the rules and laws governing the conduct of our elections in our democracy by their so-called majority decision.
Just as many people who love this country so much, sometimes I find myself in a real dilemma either to be sad, ashamed and sorry for the never-ending perpetuation of incompetence and ineptitude associated with this beautiful land of ours OR to be happy, proud and joyful of the never-ending endurance, tenacity, fortitude and resilience of ordinary Ghanaians in spite of all the difficulties and frustrations that they face day in day out.
Those sad occasions are when I see, hear and observe the half-baked so-called Ghanaians who parade themselves as educated elite intellectuals, legal luminaries, academics purporting to be on the side of the gullible fringe of the society, but very deceitfully join forces to form “a cabal to loot and share the resources and worth of this country with impunity”- courtesy of Justice Dotse. These disingenuous semi-intellectual educated elite are prepared to lie, engage in propaganda, malfeasance, subterfuge and falsehood for their own selfish ends to get to power and remain in power. Just look at their way of argument, it argues them to be ultra-hypocrites. Oh man, how frustrating and irritating it is to think that as nation we are much more capable of moving forward and achieving so much together but we are being held back by a bunch of clueless, hate-filled, narrow-minded, jealousy-driven ideological bigots who have nothing more than empty promises and misery to offer the nation.
There is nothing impossible on this earth but when people intentionally place obstacles in one’s way and thus deliberately make things difficult and hard, it therefore becomes near impossible to achieve one’s goals. However, perseverance, hope, determination, selflessness, hard work, honesty, integrity and vigilance are antidote to any evil intention.
A glimmer of hope:
Whenever I see some of the above qualities being exhibited by some notable individuals, institutions and a vast majority of our ordinary countrymen and women it makes me proud, happy and gives me a glimmer of hope in the future of this country.
To individuals like Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, Dr, Mohammadu Bawumia, Justice Julius Ansah, Justice Anin Yeboah, Justice Rose Constance Owusu and all those who are not afraid to say the truth and chart the course of freedom and justice, and also to all opposition entities particularly the NPP, other political institutions and those who are exhibiting fortitude, patience, perseverance, accommodation and indeed guarantying our democratic stability, I say “Rejoice and be glad, Blessed are you, Holy are you, Yours is the Kingdom of God”.
But for the good for nothing individuals and institutions who are unashamedly clamouring for fame and positions and are doing everything possible to run this country down by their actions and deeds, I pray that one day they will have the humility and the temerity to say “Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned” greatly against you and our fellow Ghanaians.
Finally, it is with relieve and a burst of joy to think that sooner or later we will all realize eventually that our lives are not really about us. Hopefully, that realization will not be too late for some of us.
"Facts are sacred but opinions are free”!!
Copyright: Michael Addai