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Mahama disagrees with Supreme Court ruling on election petition

Former President John Dramani Mahama has expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court for upholding President Nana Akufo-Addo as a legitimate winner of the 2020 elections.

He believes the Supreme Court was unfair and did not apply the law in a just manner in determining the outcome of the case.

“Much as I’m aware that we are legally bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court, I disagree with the process of the trial and the ruling of the court,” the Flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) said in an address.

“Ladies and gentlemen, our 1992 constitution says very directly in Article 125 section one that justice emanates from the people and shall be administered in the name of the Republic, by the judiciary, which shall be independent and subject, only to this constitution.

“I believe that law should not be an instrument for partisan purposes. I also believe that the rule of law should mean one rule for all. But of course, the rule of law is equality and fairness to all irrespective of creed, background or political coloration”.

Mr Mahama’s speech, delivered hours after the apex court’s judgement, cited the failure of the court to compel the EC Chair, Mrs Jean Mensa to be cross-examined.

He said members of the public “are still baffled by the refusal of Mrs Jean Mensa to be held to account by testifying in this case”.

He believes the vital parts of the process to establish the truth and hold Mrs Mensa accountable was blocked and again given a “protective cordon and firewall that I am sure has confounded many Ghanaians”.

He added: “I believe that the refusal of the Electoral Commission chairperson to testify in this election petition leaves a very bad precedent for the future.

Mr Mahama further expressed opposing views with the justices of the apex court “that an election petition is akin to any other civil litigation, and therefore an EC chairperson whose functions go to the heart of our democracy can by a legal sleight of hand avoid accounting for her stewardship, in an appropriate forum, such as the highest court of the land”.

For him, Ghanaians were not surprised by the judgment as he pointed out that they were seeking “to ensure compliance with the constitution for the true choice of the people of Ghana to be respected”.

Mr Mahama could not understand why “everything was done in this trial to prevent the commission from accounting to the people, citing his interrogatories which were dismissed as well as a request for inspection of documents in the possession of the commission.

“Whatever the reason for not allowing Mrs Jean Mensa to testify, or answer any questions, it leaves an embarrassing stain, not only on our justice delivery system, but also on our nation’s electoral system, which has deepened the grave doubts by many Ghanaians about the true outcome of the December 2020 presidential elections”.

He said the Supreme Court’s verdict has sparked a national debate on the “dismal state of our democracy and the increasing weakness of our state institutions.”

What was the ruling?

A seven-member panel presided over by Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah, determined the case. Other members of the panel were were Yaw Apau, Samuel K. Marful Sau, Nene Amegathcher, Professor Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu and Gertrude Torkornoo.

The verdict said the petition challenging the declaration of the NPP presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo as the winner of the polls, failed to meet the legal threshold.

The ruling which is the longest yet in the Supreme Court took almost 2 hours to deliver.

The court pointed out that the petitioner, John Mahama, failed to provide any evidence to prove that the declaration by the EC boss Jean Mensa was rigged with errors.

The CJ was of the view that the petitioner’s team led by Tsatsu Tsikata has not presented any data to counter the figures announced by the EC Chairperson on December 10, 2020, as total valid votes.

In the judgement read, citing various authorities, the CJ said if the petitioner’s team had presented figures to prove that the New Patriotic Party presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo did not meet the legal threshold, all the reliefs sought would have been granted.

The Chief Justice further said the testimonies of the three petition witnesses (NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia, representatives in the EC strong room Dr Michael Kpessa-Whyte and Robert Joseph Rojo Mettle-Nunoo) were of no relevance to the petition.

The three witnesses, according to the panel, failed to prove to the court the said illegalities that characterised the December 7 election. The three merely submitted individual accounts of what they believed was true at the said time.

According to the panel, the representatives of the NDC flagbearer in the EC strong room basically neglected their duties to oversee happenings in the National Collation Centre.

It was the view of the court that once the representatives signed the regional collation sheets, there was no basis for the complaints.

Justice Yeboah also mentioned that the evidence before the court confirms that the second respondent Nana Akufo-Addo indeed satisfied the 51 percent threshold as per the constitution, with the exclusion or inclusion of the Techiman South results.

In effect, the petitioner failed to provide evidence to show that the NPP candidate did not meet the 50 plus benchmark.

The CJ believes what the entire petition sought to do was to bring to bear the errors committed by the commission. This error, the CJ said was mentioned several times during the entire proceedings.

Also, the impact of the alleged vote padding, if proven would have been very insignificant because the NPP candidate would have crossed the 50 percent threshold.

“Even if the vote padding took place, the same was not material enough to cause any major change because the NPP candidate would have been in the lead with more than 50 percent of the votes cast.

“The petitioner did not demonstrate in any way how the errors made by the commission accounted to the NPP candidate winning, we have therefore no reason to order a rerun of the December 7 elections,” according to the verdict.

Why was Mahama in court

The petition filed by the flagbearer of the NDC, challenged the 2020 election results, which was declared in favour of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate Nana Akufo-Addo.

Former President Mahama said none of the 12 presidential candidates attained the 50 plus one mark for the Electoral Commission (EC) to declare a winner.

Although the EC said the NPP candidate got 51.59 per cent of the votes against Mahama’s 47.37 per cent, the petitioner insists that was not a true reflection of the December 7 polls.

Among other things, Mr Mahama wants the court to set aside the declaration made by EC Chairperson Jean Mensa on December 9, 2020.

He also urged the court to declare as “unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever, of the results declared on the said day”.

Mr Mahama further wanted the court to order the Electoral Commission to organise a rerun between him and the NPP presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo.

The respondents in the case (Electoral Commission and Nana Akufo-Addo) decided not to present any witness to testify in court.

The apex court was compelled to decide on the matter based on the three persons who testified on behalf of the petitioner.

The three persons were the NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the two representatives of Mr Mahama in the EC strongroom Dr Michael Kpessa-Whyte and Robert Joseph Rojo Mettle-Nunoo.

 

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