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Opinions of Saturday, 27 June 2020

Columnist: Abdul-Rahman Harruna Attah

The Supreme Court’s pathetic fallacy


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For any philistine reading these columns today, who may already have jumped to the conclusion that I am insulting or scandalizing the Supreme Court of Ghana, all I can say is that any secondary form four kid doing English literature must have come across the literary device employed in my title above. Not an a priori apology, but an explanation.

I regard the terrifying earth tremors of the night of Wednesday, June 24, 2020, as the pathetic fallacy presaging the ruling of the Supreme Court the next day, Thursday, June 25, 2020, on the highly contentious voters register it had been considering for a number of weeks prior to its ruling.

Accra has long been identified as lying in a seismically unsafe area and could suffer some cataclysmic tectonic movements anytime. The tremours that struck on June 24, 2020, occurred almost 81 years to the day after the June 22, 1939, quake, which according to the records killed seventeen people and also injured over a hundred others.

As pathetic fallacies go, June 24 2020, was indeed a harbinger. I woke up that day with the tremours on my mind to the exclusion of all else – not even NDC-NPP politics! Contemplating an act of God that could wipe you and others out within seconds is a tremendously demanding mental activity. It was therefore much later in the morning that the Supreme Court ruling started filtering to me, first as a victory for those of us in support of the use of the tried and tested register and ID card, leading me to say that the court had risen above partisan politics and Ghana would be the better for it. Not long after that, the WhatsApp platforms started throwing the spanners in! The court had rather denied all the reliefs sought by the NDC and the rest of the country, including our venerable traditional rulers.

As the day wore on, my hopes were completely dashed when more legal opinions proved that the court had sided completely with the electoral commission. When I received notice that President Mahama was going to address the nation in the evening on the issue, I knew my earlier optimism indeed had been a mirage. Such a shame! Many responsible Ghanaian citizens who have voted many times with the legitimate voter ID card, cannot vote this time because they have neither an NIA card nor a passport!

Anger against the court? Nooooo! I have grown out of that, since two judges of the appeal court, over a decade ago sent me to jail for a contempt I did not commit against their court, for which they were according to speculations at the time rewarded with elevation to the Supreme Court! One slipped through but the other was halted by the parliamentary committee in charge of such things. At first, I was full of anger, contempt, disrespect and more but no more. Now I have only one word: Suspicion.

All along, I had the suspicion that there was no way the court would displease Mr Cathedral and when Mr Kevin Ekow Baidoo Taylor with all the due respect he could muster published his expose of a conversation on collusion between the court and the presidency, I was filled with dread but still hoped…The young man was to be proved right beyond doubt. This same Kevin Taylor brought up the issue of a particular judge who should have recused himself from a particular case but did not, leaving open his eventual judgement open to all sorts of (mis)interpretations…Hardly the way to inspire our confidence in our judiciary.

So what now after the SC’s ruling on the EC? Deny our judiciary? Nothing of the sort! Civilised human behaviour requires that man should be organized in such a way that the race would endure and thrive. Out of such a fundamental, after millennia of usage and precedence, we recognize today as governance. There are many shades to that but ours is pillared on what we all accept as the legislature, the judiciary and the executive.

We have to learn to live with it or descend into chaos. Their existence is there purely to serve one interest: The people. The people, therefore, shower them with all sorts of privileges and conveniences so that they remain on the “straight and narrow” and serve the interest of the people at all times. But do they? Above all, there are a few things the people expect them to have more than the average person: integrity, honesty, sincerity, incorruptibility, fairness and patriotism over and above the call of partisanship.

Like President Mahama said in his press encounter, “we are deeply disappointed”. I am disappointed. But the real disappointment would be felt by the millions of citizens who would most certainly be disenfranchised. Do we, therefore, refuse to go into the election because the door has been kicked wide open for irregularities? I don’t know. All that I know is that the rest of us should rise above it and strive, with bone, sinew and muscle to keep our country safe and sound for our future generations. The pathetic fallacy of Wednesday, June 24, 2020, is nature’s own wake-up call…

As I conclude, it is a Dickensian zeitgeist I can’t help feeling myself being sucked into. Could the equine creature he made famous still be braying after all these years?

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