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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Columnist: Sampson Hodor

Making good use of another election petition

The Supreme Court of Ghana The Supreme Court of Ghana

In under a week, the opportunity provided by law for any person aggrieved by the outcome of 2020 presidential elections to seek redress in court will elapse and the declaration made by the electoral commission cannot not be challenged thereafter.

Although this opportunity is still opened to my friends in the NDC, and they probably would take advantage of the remaining days, the streets of the country have become the destination for pouring the disagreement or rejection of the election result and its subsequent declaration by the EC. I do not know if these demonstrations are only precursors to the court actions that may soon follow. As a lover of democracy and justice, I encourage my friends in the NDC to take advantage of the opportunity the constitution has offered to challenge the election of the president. My call is not as how others sarcastically make it, but it is out of my genuine interest in justice and fairness.

One major reason I will encourage the NDC to go to court is that it will further enhance our electoral processes as was the case with the 2012 election petition. It will expose the lapses that still linger with our elections; over-voting, ballot staffing, wrong computation of figures, wrong spellings, among other irregularities associated with our elections. If the alleged evidence being paraded by the NDC are anything to go by, then the courts will offer all of us, and not only the NDC, an opportunity to assess our electoral successes and make them better. It is no doubt that the 2012 election petition altered significantly our approach to the 2016 and 2020 general elections in Ghana. The alleged irregularities as observed by the NDC cannot be allowed to fester in our body politics if some proof is attached to them. It is in search of this proof I would encourage the NDC to go to court.

There is this conspiracy theory about how judges of the supreme court give their loyalty to the president that appoints rather than to the state and to the oath they swore. Evidently, judges appointed by the president-elect are in the majority on the panel. Taking another election petition to this same court will be a test to this conspiracy theory. It is important because some persons have become apprehensive about the courts and the decisions that they make in some recent matters. Some people are of the view that some of these decisions lack fairness and a clear slap in the face of justice. I encourage the NDC to take their evidence to the supreme court so we demystify some of these opinions about the supreme court and as a result inspire confidence in the court and its decisions.

I really am interested in this petition starting in the courts. I am interested not because I am a lawyer or a judge but I am interested because I am a lover of democracy, peace and development. I would love to see how the evidence will be presented in the courts by the applicants and how that evidence will be challenged by the defending party. The proceedings of the 2012 election petition as recorded are interesting videos to watch. I remember that time in 2013 when I will try to be seated by my television at exactly 10:00 am waiting for Lawyer Philip Addison and his team on the one hand and Lawyer Tony Lithur and his team of lawyers on the other hand. Watching such legal tussle, made possible by the Supreme Court’s decision to allow live coverage of proceedings, was an eye-opener for a lot of citizens. Indeed, not many of us had the opportunity to go to the courts to observe proceedings.
If the NDC in exercising the right to demonstrate will also exercise their right to a fair hearing and choose the latter over the former, it will do all of us a great deal of education, progress and stability.