There are two major cases on election 2020 currently being heard in Ghana. One is the petition at the Supreme Court of Ghana challenging the outcome of the presidential election and the other is the public trial of the judges sitting on the case. The second one has no particular location and is being heard everywhere, any day and at all hours. That one is a reality show with spokespersons leading the daily spin doctoring shows! It is most amusing to see and hear Squealer, more or less reading out the final ruling, according to his (mis)interpretations.
Some people, in fact, many people, think I should be in the know of what is taking place because of the public visibility I have through my commentary writing. Such people regularly call me seeking my opinion on “What’s going on?” I try as much as possible to steer clear away from assuming the airs of a savant in a field I have no competence but they would not have it, insisting and persisting on their quest of hearing “something” from me. I don’t know if some of them can often detect a mild irritation in my tone as I explain to them that there is no need for panic as “Tsatsu is doing his best and certainly he is equipped with knowledge, equal and perhaps, in fairness, above many a Ghanaian on the country’s bar or bench.” For this reason, I conclude that we should have confidence in him and his team.
I cannot say I usually succeed in mollifying them with such words, for the lot of them are quite convinced (or just a perception) that the petitioner is not going to get fairness or justice. Justice, one of the duo on our national motto of “Freedom and Justice” is what matters most to the citizenry. “They have already decided”, I would be told, with enough pathos to fill many a graveyard!
Choosing to rely on sheer optimism than the overwhelming conventional wisdom surrounding the court as a Nana Akufo-Addo institution, I will tell them to expect surprises. Banking on how the Malawi Constitutional Court annulled a flawed election, how the US courts refused to bow to pressure from Donald Trump in the 2020 US elections, I even dredge out Kenya, and what I call the Bagbin Miracle in our 8th parliament. to tell them not to give up so easily.
A very extreme form of this pessimism was expressed by a dear friend of mine who recently told me that JM should renounce his interest in the Ghanaian presidency because Nana Addo had turned it into a “poisoned chalice”. Strong words, those…I empathised with the pain that must have compelled him to arrive at such a funereal sentiment but told him why I disagreed with him. I said that was the reason why people like JM should continually be a part of the equation to help forge a more benign chalice that we can all safely drink from.
The supreme court’s body language, he told me, is clear for all to see, with no attempt to hide or disguise the “hostility” towards the petitioner as expressed through their attitude to lead counsel Tsatsu Tsikata.
This “hostility” is a regular and constant refrain from many people – the petitioner’s supporters as well as some neutrals – which I find extremely depressing because with the pink sheets of 2013, even those of us who were rooting for a Mahama victory, were still not sure how the case would go. The court did not come across as a Mahama-biased court and so its ruling could go either way….
I can still remember that day when the ruling came down favouring Mahama. The country exhaled one huge sigh of relief as we picked up the pieces and moved on. The court has since morphed into what it is now and for better, for worse, we should make the best of it and continue expecting the best from it. No disrespect should be allowed to creep in – the courts after all, belong to Ghanaians and not the judges. If they will allow the likes of Ken Agyepong, an MP, to disrespect them and get away with it, that’s up to them…
Clearly, a number of eyebrows-raising decisions have been handed down these past four years, – none more so, for me, than the green light given Nana Akufo-Addo to impose a provocative, sectarian, Christocentric edifice on our secular republic: The so-called “national” cathedral. I am yet to recover from that blatant disregard for our constitution with its clear and unambiguous separation of state and religion – please check out the sections on the freedom of religion and human rights. In entrenching the freedom of religion, the constitution is also unequivocal in its prohibition of discrimination favouring one faith against others, which this so-called “national” cathedral is. When this was challenged and the court threw it out, sadly, I also mentally threw out the court. Emboldened by that, the little old man from Kyebi has had many state properties destroyed on prime government land which he has sequestrated for his religious proselytising…And this, supported by an institution that is expected to prevent impunity and abuse of power.
And so if today, some people are viewing this court with very little confidence, and yes, are despairing, they have precedence to stand on. Luckily for us and posterity, traditional and social media, are allowing us to also try the judges as they try the petition and all we can do is to look forward to the vengeance or amnesty of history.
The petitioner’s lead counsel, Tsatsu Tsikata, even to those who would not regard the petition as worthy, is a nonpareil. Brilliant, articulate and urbane, he shows class and when the cards are seemingly stacked up against him, he makes laymen like me smile with admiration and satisfaction…He and his team are staying the course nicely…Keep it up chaps!