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Opinions of Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Judicial Review Is Intriguing But ...

... Not Necessarily Productive

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I personally would love to have the genuinely aggrieved key operatives of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) litigate their 2012 presidential election petition till they run their impenitently thievish political opponents out of steam and out of the august seat of governance. But whether such time- and money-consuming legal tack would be productive to a largely post-election fatigued Ghanaian electorate is another quite significant question that Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo, the chairman of the NPP's Judicial Review Committee, ought to seriously reconsider (See "NPP Likely to go for a Review of Supreme Court Verdict - Ayikoi-Otoo Hints" 9/28/13).

Even if the outcome of a judicial review petition proves to be successful, it is highly unlikely to result in a change of government in the offing - for the simple reason that too much time has elapsed to enable even the most genius successor to Mr. John Dramani Mahama to be able to assemble any viable governance team to serve out the remaining three years of his/her predecessor's tenure. I use an interchangeable subjective-pronoun, because it is not clear to me at this juncture that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the NPP flagbearer for Election 2012, is either ready or even in the mood of being called upon to govern at such short notice, coming on the heels of his publicly announced and laudable decision to completely disengage himself from any active political enterprise until further notice.

In other words, Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo, one of the three, or so, Attorneys-General in the Kufuor administration, and his Judicial Review Committee cohorts may have a different NPP presidential candidate in mind for their present adventure. Quite possibly, the indomitable and redoubtable Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Akufo-Addo's astute and nimble running-mate for both Elections 2008 and 2012. I am not so sure, though. True: the country's economy and our entire political culture are being seriously jeopardized by the Mahama/Amissah-Arthur posse; but there is a far more palatable and politically appealing method for effectively reversing such baneful trend.

That method, of course, is called Election 2016. And I don't see anything wrong with what is good for the recently-deceased President John Evans Atta-Mills not being equally good for Nana Akufo-Addo. "Testing the law again," as one reporter put it in a article, may not be all that intelligent or even expedient. And just why is that? Well, primarily because in principle, the Supreme Court is the court of last resort; and second-guessing the integrity of any of its members, while not practically out-of-bounds, is theoretically suicidal. For it defeats the very purpose - of sociopolitical stability - for which this august institution was established.

Instead, what we ought to be focused upon, is the futuristic possibility of selecting the very best of our legal lights for the job. So far, this Supreme Court has not amply and decently demonstrated that it has what it takes to perform above reproach. And here, the reference is not in any way, whatsoever, to the August 29 handing down of, perhaps, the most scandalous decision in the 50-odd years' postcolonial history of our Republic but, rather, the fact that the highest court of the land would allow Messrs. Raymond Atuguba, a relative of the president of the judicial panel that adjudicated the 2012 presidential election petition, and Bernard Mornah, a rambunctious and passionate National Democratic Congress sympathizer and unconscionable mercenary, to cause it to flagrantly breach its own longstanding protocol by rather unwisely reducing the status of the Supreme Court to a mere judicial adjunct or inferior version of itself.

Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo also significantly vitiates his case by making his decision to seek a judicial review of the Atuguba verdict seem like a pure act of vendetta against his arch-political opponents of the National Democratic Congress, rather than a pure act of justice and fair play. "He is therefore advising functionaries of the ruling National Democratic Congress who have gone to bed with the ruling, believing everything is over to rethink,because the NPP has not completely shelved its intention to go for a review," one news report cited Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo.

The question of whether Justices Baffoe-Bonnie and Jones Dotse waffled over specific numbers involved in the unanimously affirmed incidence of over-voting is totally beside the point. The finality of their decision is what it is. In sum, the real focus ought to be getting Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the superannuated Electoral Commissioner, promptly relieved of his post, if a disastrous event of apocalyptic proportions is to be averted come Election 2016.

_____________________________________________________________ *Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D. Department of English Nassau Community College of SUNY Garden City, New York Sept. 29, 2013 E-mail: ###