Election Petition: EC, NDC object to amendment of petition
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Electoral Commission (EC) have opposed moves by three leaders of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to amend their petition challenging the results of the December 2012 presidential election.
According to the two bodies, the proposal by the petitioners to amend the petition was against the rules of the court and had the potential to protract the case.
While the NDC maintains that the procedure being adopted by the petitioners was contrary to the rules of the court, the EC argued that "the proposed amended petition, which the petitioners are seeking leave to file, suffers from the same deficiencies, shortcomings and defects, which caused the second respondent to file an application, which is currently pending before this honourable court, and is awaiting its ruling".
The second respondent, the EC, had already filed an application for "further and better particulars", praying the Supreme Court to order the petitioners to supply the names and codes of the 4,709 polling stations where alleged electoral irregularities took place.
A ruling is expected to be delivered on the EC's application for further and better particulars at the court's sitting in Accra today.
The presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia; and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, filed a petition on December 28, 2012 citing irregularities at 4,709 polling stations during the conduct of the presidential election on December 7, 2013.
They are praying the court to annul the results at those polling stations, but the EC has denied the claims.
But the petitioners amended the petition dated January 31, 2013, praying the Supreme Court to annul 4,670,504 valid votes cast during the election at 11,916 polling stations where alleged irregularities were recorded.
The petitioners are also seeking to introduce the claim that there were 28 locations where elections took place which, according to them, were not part of the 26,002 polling stations created by the EC.
However, in the latest rounds of oppositions all dated February 4, 2013, the NDC, which is the third respondent, and the EC are praying the court to dismiss the motion to amend the petition on grounds that it was without merit and must, therefore, be refused by the court.
A notice of preliminary objection to the application to amend the petition filed on behalf of the NDC by its solicitors, Law Trust Company, at 2:40 p.m., yesterday, said the application to amend the petition that was served on the NDC on January 31, 2013 "only for a notice of withdrawal without leave of the court, was improper".
It submitted further that "petitioners cannot determine their own procedure for filing any process and the filing of another application to amend when leave of the court has not been obtained to do so, is not allowed by the rules of this honourable court".
The party, which was allowed to join the petition on January 22,2013, stated that "having filed a Notice of Withdrawal unconditionally without having obtained an order of this honourable court granting them liberty to reapply, petitioners are estopped from repeating the same application".It is, therefore, praying the Supreme Court to strike out the application to amend the petition and, award cost against the petitioners.
An affidavit in opposition deposed to on behalf of the EC by its Deputy Chairman in charge of Finance and Administration, Mr Amadu Sulley, at 2.15 p.m, yesterday, held that the proposed amendment would prolong the case and, for that reason, must not be allowed by the court.
In a related development, the petitioners have filed an application in opposition to the President's motion seeking permission from the court to serve a number of interrogatories on them (petitioners.)
An affidavit in opposition deposed to on behalf of the petitioners by a Vice-Chairman of the NPP, Mr Fred Oware, and dated February 3, 2013, held that the matters in respect of which the President sought clarification were clearly and sufficiently set out in the amended petition.
The President is seeking to elicit from the petitioners a clarification of the method by which they arrived at the aggregate number of 1,342,845, which the petitioners were seeking the court to annul on the basis of alleged irregularities and/or malpractice.
However, the petitioners are arguing that those issues needed no further clarification.
According to the affidavit in opposition, President Mahama's interrogatories were not brought in good faith and amounted to a time-wasting device which "will not promote a fair, open, cost-effective and efficient trial".
The petitioners are, consequently, praying the court to dismiss the application to serve the interrogatories on the petitioners.
In what promises to be a landmark case in Ghana's legal history, the EC has also filed an affidavit in opposition to the petitioners' prayer to the court, to order the EC to produce documents for inspection and subsequently allow them (petitioners) to make copies of.
According to the EC, Dr Bawumia had, on January 25, 2013, stated in an affidavit sworn on behalf of the other two petitioners that they (petitioners) had copies of the documents "for which they are seeking discovery".
"The discovery requested in the instant application is not necessary, is oppressive, an abuse of the process of the court, and that it is not made in good faith," the EC argued, and accordingly prayed the court to dismiss it.
A nine-member panel, presided over by Mr Justice William Atuguba, with Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Annin Yeboah, Mr Justice P. Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo will make a decision on the applications from the EC, the petitioners and the President.
The substantive matter would be heard after the court clears all the preliminary legal issues being raised by parties in the case.