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Opinions of Saturday, 28 September 2013

Columnist: Boamah, Ebenezer

The Statistics of Atuguba's Petition

The Statistics of Atuguba’s Petition 2012 Judgment

Per the startling observation made by lawyer Samuel Okudzeto, former chairman of the Ghana Bar Association, I would like to answer a question he posed, as to how JSC Atuguba, the presiding judge, came about his conclusion of the Election Petition judgment in favor of the respondents. He touched on some constitutionality of the rulings as well, however my main interest today is about the statistics of the final ruling which was 5:4 in favor of the respondents, which per the renowned lawyer’s analysis was rather in favor of the petitioners. This implies that the presiding judge, JSC Atuguba, wrongfully called thefinal judgment, notwithstanding the earlier erroneous detail corrected by the Registrar’s office, which still maintained the status-quo.

For those of you, who had not the opportunity to read lawyer Sam’s analysis, I reproduce an excerpt from Joyonline, pertaining to our subject matter:

Okudzeto’s Analysis

“At a symposium organized by the Danquah Institute to review the Supreme Court’s decision in the election petition filed by Nana Akufo-Addo, Sam Okudzeto stated that the judgment handed down by Justice Atuguba did not establish the fact that the petitioners lost the case.

He was therefore at a loss as to how the Atuguba Court came about the decision that the petitioners lost the case.

In explaining his analysis, he stated that before the commencement of the substantive case, the Supreme Court set out only two issues for determination which were (1) Whether or not there are statutory violations in the nature of omissions, irregularities and malpractices in the conduct of the Presidential Elections held on the 7th and 8th December 2012; and (2) Whether or not the said statutory violations, if any, affected the results of the elections.

According to Sam Okudzeto, Justices Atuguba, Adinyirah, Gbadegbe and Akoto-Bamfo, dismissed, unanimously, all the six grounds of infractions filed by the petitioners in the court and as such decided to sustain President Mahama as the duly elected President.

He noted, however, that Justices Ansah, Owusu and Anin-Yeboah were of the opinion that President Mahama wasn’t duly elected, as contained in their judgments.

This, according to him, meant that 4 judges had ruled for John Mahama, whilst 3 had ruled that John Mahama wasn’t duly elected.

“What happened to the other two? This is where the issue becomes dicey,” he noted.

Sam Okudzeto stated that Justice Dotse, in page 405 of the judgment, dismissed the claims of the petitioners with regards to the use duplicate serial numbers, voting without biometric verification, unknown polling stations and duplicate polling station results.

However, Justice Dotse, Sam Okudzeto noted, upheld the claims of the petitioners in the categories of no signatures of presiding officers as well as in over-voting and ordered a re-run of the elections in the affected polling stations.

Touching on Justice Baffoe-Bonnie’s judgment where he dismissed all the claims of the petitioners, Sam Okudzeto stated that Justice Baffoe-Bonnie upheld the petitioners’ claims of voting without biometric verification, and ordered a re-run of the election in the affected polling stations.

Thus, as per the issues set out by the court, Sam Okudzeto noted that it was clear from the judgment that 5 of the Supreme Court judges determined that the irregularities affected the elections whereas 4 of the judges noted that the irregularities did not.

This, in his opinion, established the fact that the judgment handed down by the Supreme Court judges went 5-4 in favour of the petitioners.”

What Sam is saying is that it does not matter how many claims a particular judge may overrule, once the said judge rules one count in favor of the petitioner that judge has upheld the course of the petitioner; and thus, must be head counted in favor of same; even as the resultant of each claim was a killer, and of the same effect.

Atuguba’s Statistics

Now the simple answer to the query of lawyer Sam, as to how JSC Atuguba arrived at the final judghment is that instead of the presiding judge doing a head count of those judges, who sustained at least one count of the claims, set out by the petitioners, namely over-voting, pink sheets without signatures etc, as against justices who overruled all the claims, JSC Atuguba took the claims one after the other, and counted who voted for or against, say, over-voting, marked it down as 1 point for the winner. After voting on each claim, he then tallied the number of voting wins or points in favor of both petitioners, and respondents accordingly, and arrived at 5:4 in the final favor of the respondents.

My Query

Haven answered lawyer Okudzeto’s quiz, my own puzzle is who is right? Is it Okudzeto’s head count or Atuguba’s voting? Is it the normal practise for the SC to follow the lower courts of sole judges tradition, where when you fall for one count of claims or charges you have fallen; or Atuguba’s disjoined voting on claims is the norm? Which of the two aligns with the best practise or principle of statistics? I desire the expects to answer to these queries for posterity.

God bless you, God bless Ghana.