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Opinions of Saturday, 20 February 2021

Columnist: Professor N. Lungu

Electoral Commissioner Jean Mensah must go [Oracle Part 4]

Ms. Jean Adukwei Mensa still is the sole exception to our non-critique policy on Ghanaian women officials, borne out of our deep respect and honor for Ghanaian women in all positions (governmental, non-profit, civil society, private enterprise, etc.).

It is corruption (and worse) for the Electoral Commission under Jean Adukwei to rent or rent office space in the J. B. Danquah building in Kyebi, for the purpose of election including “education”, in a facility that is not solely controlled by the Government of Ghana, despite what the Okyenhene, Amotia Ofori Panyin II, says.

The Ghana Electoral Commission has absolutely no business being in that building under the façade of a “children’s library”.

The control of the Ghana public elections machinery, including refusal to provide information timely to the people, fits neatly under the Agyapdee grand plan, “with Nana in total control of the whole entity of Ghana”. (We will have more on that in the coming days and weeks).

Significantly, joined at the hip is the order by the Supreme Court to disallow original documents in the trial for which the EC and its chief were the first respondents, that points to the sign about the same “corruption” Prof Adei complained was “so high” at the “public accountability: abuse of office”, panel discussion organized by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), in June of 2019.

We are not fooled.

We checked again. Ms. Jean Mensa has still not apologized to the People of Ghana, nor to the communities in the Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi, (SALL) areas where 1,000s of voters were proscribed from voting for their preferred MP during the last election by none other than Jean Mensa.

We reiterate that the big mess caused by the administration of Ms. Jean Adukwei Mensa at the Ghana Electoral Commission (EC) during the 2020 elections still constitutes grounds for her dismissal from that hallowed tax-payer funded position.

Deploying our 1,000-foot aerial view over the petition brought by Mr. John Mahama and the NDC party against the Electoral Commission (EC) and the EC-proclaimed winner of the 2020 presidential elections, the NPP, we concluded the other day that justice and fairness was bound to elude the plaintiff for the simple reason Jean Adukwei Mensa had still failed to apologize to the people of Ghana for the mess she caused.

Jean Adukwei Mensa has failed to apologize to the people of Ghana for the mess she caused them, and their communities.

This is inherently not about John Mahama.

Not at all.

It is all about the Ghana Nation.

Jean Adukwei Mensa must go.

Repeat: President Akufo Addo, availing himself of the powers conferred on him by the constitution, and to preserve unity, peace, progress, and freedom for all Ghanaians regardless of where they come from or live, should immediately dismiss Ms. Jean Adukwei Mensa, for cause.

Crucially, in our humble opinion, the sacking of Ms. Jean Adukwei Mensa should have been one of the recommendations of the Council of State (COS), if the COS was paying any attention to disenfranchisement of voters in Ghana for any reason, such as occurred during the just-ended elections.

The Supreme Court under Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah erred when they assumed a contestant before them funded with taxpayer funds is equal to a contestant funded by private funds who both seek the same non-public value and end under the Constitution of Ghana.

They are not the same.

Scoundrels should not make an ass of the law

We are no lawyers.

However, we believe in fairness and justice in governance, development, and decision-making, including impartial deliberations by judges and Supreme Court justices who are totally supported by taxpayer funds.

It is unconscionable that in 2021, Ghanaians must abide by military junta decrees such as section 1 of the 1975 NRC decree, “Evidence Act” that recently made news at the Supreme Court in Accra.

But, that is the law, and we understand.

Of note (Section 1 of 1975 NRC decree):

“…(3) The determination whether a party has met the burden of producing evidence on a particular issue is a question of law which shall be determined by the Court…(4) Where the Court determines that a party has not met the burden of producing evidence on a particular issue the Court shall, as a matter of law determine the issue against that party.”

Again, we are no lawyers, nor are we trying to practice law here.

Nonetheless, we have some elementary understanding of the laws, including Civil, Tort, Administrative, and Constitutional law, having taken courses in several of those subjects as part of our education and training over the years.

It seems to us the operative concept with respect to section 1 of the 1975 NRC decree is this:

“…burden of producing evidence on a particular issue is a question of law which shall be determined by the Court…”.

In plain speak, Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah and the individual judges, using their agency and Power granted by the People, “determines".

We state today that it is unacceptable that a Court in Ghana would so decree that original documents are not necessary when opposing lawyers are in disagreement about the admissibility and validity of crucial documents in a very important case about national elections.

More than anything, that was a contest between 2 opposing political parties of vastly unequal powers and influence as we’ve already alluded to, one being the government in power that appointed the EC Chief, after they engineered the dismissal of the previous Chief.

The NPP government, through Jean Adukwei Mensa and the EC, has custody of the original, taxpayer-funded documents, including video, and tabulation charts for the elections. (This was a matter of important public interest given the results of the elections).

Incidentally, the same Acheampong N.R.C. decree has something on “erroneous exclusion of evidence” and “miscarriage of justice” arising from “finding verdict, judgment or decision” by a court:

“…3) A finding verdict, judgment or decision shall not be set aside altered or reversed on appeal or review because of the erroneous exclusion of evidence unless,…(a) the substance of the excluded evidence was made known to the Court by the questions asked, by an offer of proof, or by any other means, and…(b) the Court which decides on the effect of the error also determines that the excluded evidence should have been admitted and that the erroneous exclusion of the evidence resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice.”

Clearly, a judge, a Supreme Court Justice, Yaw Appau, Samuel Marful-Sau, Gertrude Torkornoo, Amadu Tanko, Clemence Honyenuga, even does not make a “finding verdict, judgment or decision” in a vacuum.

Question is, given the background and the mess caused by EC Chief Mensa, including the disenfranchisement of 1,000s of voters and multiple cases of reported errors in data announced by the EC only to be recalled, why was is not appropriate and therefore a matter of public interest to cause the EC to provide original documents for review by the Court?

The government and the EC had a bigger burden.

The objective reader will concur that in this instance, as the case went, an “erroneous exclusion of evidence” most likely resulted in “miscarriage of justice” that is fatal from the point of view of the national interest and justice, if for the simple reason there will never be an appeal at a higher court in Ghana.

Electoral Commission records are archival documents of nations worth their name.

What, therefore, is Jean Mensa hiding?

Significantly, the 1992 law establishing the Electoral Commission, Section 2(g), lists among the “functions of the Electoral Commission”, proper storage of “election material” and “…(e) to educate the people on the electoral process and its purpose…”.

What, tell us, is the Supreme Court of Ghana attempting to hide on behalf of EC Chief Mensa and the NPP government, with avoidance of evidence?

Finale

To the Supreme Court’s refusal of original documents, it is the EC that is charged with proper storage and accountability of election material. It is not lawyers or private interests contesting the results of a publicly-funded election that produce election material that is in the custody of the Ghana Electoral Commission.

So, how does the Electoral Commission and Jean Mensa educate the people on the electoral process and its purpose when original documents must be kept hidden from the people, even from a court of law contesting the actions of a publicly-funded official whose attendance at court, and those of her entire retinue, is funded by the People?

What confidence?

What accountability?

What transparency?

Electoral Commission records are archival documents of nations worth their name.

Ms. Jean Adukwei Mensa must go now!

President Akufo Addo should immediately dismiss Ms. Jean Adukwei Mensa for cause, if the EC Chief still fails to resign. In reference to the significance of erroneous exclusion, by any Court, it is conceivable that all voters could have changed the results of the 2020 Presidential elections, with the current contested 137-137 MP-split between the 2 parties (NDC and NPP).

Nonetheless, President Akufo Addo should do the right thing and immediately dismiss Ms. Jean Adukwei Mensa for cause.

The immediate and forced departure of Ms. Jean Adukwei Mensa from the Ghana EC still would be a pitiful but crucial step if Ghana is to begin re-positioning the Electoral Commission as an objective, credible, non-partisan public agency for the administration of elections, without favor to any political party or private interest.

Ms. Jean Adukwei Mensa failed directly at accomplishing the mission she was charged with consistently with the Constitution and her responsibilities for objectivity and non-partisanship. When it counted, Jean Mensa did not “manage the conduct of…public elections…”, when she had her chance.

That was Job One!

There is no integrity there, behind the false curtain.

Ms. Jean Adukwei Mensa must go now.

So it goes, Ghana!