Election Petition to be broadcast live – Chief Justice
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah says the highest court had already taken the decision to allow for live broadcast of the proceedings of the election petition.
Responding to a request by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in court today for the live broadcast of the Election Petition, the Chief Justice said “we have already taken care of that” and that there was no need for hearing the motion for live broadcasting.
This was after the lead Counsel of the Petitioner, Mr Tsatsu Tsikakta raised a motion for live broadcast of the election petition.
“The practice of the court was that such a decision (request for live broadcast) should be applied for before the court is able to take a stance on the matter,” Mr Tsikata pointed out.
However, before he could end his motion, he was interrupted by Chief Justice Anin Yeboah, who relayed the news that the petition would be broadcast live.
The CJ pointed to cameras and television equipment which had already been mounted in the Supreme Court edifice and even alluded to a live feed which was already being carried out by the Ghana Broadcasting Cooperation as the court was in session.
Perhaps taking a cue from the 2012 Election Petition filed by then opposition Leader Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the seven-member bench which included, Justice Yaw Apau, Samuel K. Marful Sau, Nene Amegathcher, Professor Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu and Getrude Torkornoo had already taken the decision to follow the landmark decision in 2012.
That decision in 2012 was the first time, the media and the general public got a sense of what pertains in court, especially the highest court.
Many TV viewers were glued to their TV sets and the media fed fat on the eight-month-long unprecedented court proceedings that threw out some comical words that has found its way into national political conversations.
Words like “you and I were not there”, and “on the face of the pink sheet” that was blurted out by Alhaji Mahmud Bawumia in answer to repeated questions from the first and second respondents.
Court Room Brawl
The live broadcasting of the 2012 Election petition also brought the much talked about “court room brawling” in its real sense as the whole nation was held spell-bound by some of the banters between lawyers.
The famous one between Tsatsu Tsikata and Philip Addison. This was when Tsikata told Addison to shut up.
Mr Tsikata wanted Dr Bawumia to name other persons who were present at the time the ‘pink sheets’ were signed for further cross examination but Mr Addison questioned the relevance of the disclosure of identities.
Mr Addison rose from his seat to raise an objection. Infuriated by the actions, Mr Tsikata asked Mr Addison, “Can you shut up,” he blurted out. “Can you let me finish”.
Mr Addison, was visibly unhappy with the reaction of Tsikata, and told the Court, presided over by Justice William Atuguba that he was capable of matching Tsikatu.
Contempt of Court
The live broadcast again gave the opportunity for many viewers to see at first hand, the far reaching arm of the law and how not to “talk loosely” while the court was in session.
The likes of former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, popularly called Sir John, Stephen Atubiga, Samuel Awuku, Hopeson Adoryie and Ken Kuranchie were all found of contempt of court by the highest court.
While, Sir John, Samuel Awuku, and Hopeson Adoryie were given verbal warning and were “humbled” in court for their verbal abuse of the courts processes and individuals, Kuranchie and Atubiga were given custodial sentences in prison for 10 and three days respectively for scandalizing the court with their comments.
That incident also sanitized the airwaves as many “so called commentators” were now cautious of abusing the highest court and its processes.
Another epic scene in the court proceedings of the 2012 Election Petition was when the Presiding Judge, Justice William Atuguba called out the Electoral Commissioner after a grilling question and answer over a month.
“When you say go to court, go to court, do you see how difficult it is”, Justice Atuguba threw the line at Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, after he had had his days in court.
That comment drew a loud laugh in court.