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18.03.2021 Feature Article

And Their Lordships Spake

Chief Justice Anin Yeboah
LISTEN MAR 18, 2021
Chief Justice Anin Yeboah

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, The Lord bless thee and keep thee; The Lord make His face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.  (Num 6:22-24)

It was a marathon two-hour speech and the seven-member panel was compos mentis (alert) to prompt the Chief Justice (CJ) against slippages with words like 'democracy' or 'engendered'. Concerned listeners were glued to their TV sets or radios.

His Lordship, the Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah spent his time to categorically state the case for the plaintiff, perfectly gave cogent reasons for the rejection of almost all the motions moved by Tsatsu Tsikata, Esquire. Ako-te-brofo, Englishy Tsikata proved his mettle, and on his feet he could recall cases with ease and answered with questions without winking. He deserved kudos for his performance – and be paid well for doing what clients like, speechyfying talk, talk, talk. The CJ painstakingly elucidated the reasons for the verdict. Ex-President Mahama took the Electoral Commission (EC) and Nana Akufo-Addo to the Supreme Court on a number of issues claiming that none of the 12 candidates got 50%-plus, so EC was in breach of Article 63 of the 1992 Constitution; an order for injunction restraining 'Fellow Ghanaians' from holding himself out as President; a re-run of the election between John Mahama and Akufo-Addo alone, as the others were merely 'also-rans'.

Mahama did not appear personally to give evidence, but his witness. Asiedu Nketia himself must have remembered the period he was in the classroom (as a village teacher like our good-selves) when given a calculator. He appeared to be fidgeting with it, but finally got it working. His calculations came to the same figures (or nearly the same figures) as the EC had obtained.

“But you said there was “padding of votes” (our own question). “My Lords, I am not the petitioner.”  Smart answer! But even if there was padding of some 4,690 votes, this could not change the percentage each of the presidential candidates got. The doubting Thomases should read Prof. Oti-Boateng's article and see the percentage that go for 500,000 people with 'sets' 'sub-sets', and 'universe', et cetera.

The verdict noted that “As for the other two witnesses Kpessa Whyte and Mettle Nunoo, the little said about them the better”: one had been tricked by the EC to leave the Strong Room while the votes were being collated; the other had had good time at the EC office partying with some workers with hot tea without biscuits.

After the Plaintiff had closed his case, the Respondents could have submitted 'no case'. 'Halleluia', we thought the Plaintiff and his supporters would have said. Yes, because one wins a case in court on his own strength and not Defendants weakness. Yes, that was because in 2013 the petitioners had presented over 11,000 pink sheets to support their argument; they had argued fraud and named specific polling stations where there had been sleight of hand. And the last application: to re-open the case was thrown overboard because “elections are won at polling stations” à la Dr. Afari-Gyan, so what was there to argue out again? Meanwhile, the star witness had made a very useful admission, expressed in the judgment thus: “While the testimony of PW1 (Asiedu Nketia) was emphatic that the Petitioner was not in court to challenge or compare the figures or data presented by the first Respondent with any other figures. The testimonies of PW2 (Kpessa Whyte) and PW3 (Rojo Mettle Nunoo) were in respect of alleged irregularities in the figures or data on some of the collation forms that they sighted in the strong room but after which they ultimately signed or certified.

Their Lordships concluded: “We conclude this judgment by emphasising that the Petitioner did not demonstrate in any way how the alleged errors and unilateral correction made by the first Respondent (EC) affected the validity of the declaration made by the first Respondent on December 9, 2020 as already stated in this judgment… The Petitioner has not produced any evidence to rebut the presumption created by the C1 135 (Gazette) for which his action has failed. We have therefore no reason to order a re-run as prayed by the Petitioners in relief F. We accordingly dismiss the petition as having no merit”. Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata: “As their Lords please” (Tony Lithur quietly endorsing); Justin Amenuvor: We are grateful, my Lords” (Alexander Somuah concurring in silence); Akoto Ampaw:  “Extremely grateful, my Lords” (Frank Davies, Kwaku Asirifi and Yaw Oppong nodding in acquiescence).

The Petitioner was crestfallen, he criticised the apex court for not being “fair to the NDC”, and that the “verdict smacks of hypocrisy”. The court's failure to call the 1st Respondent was a “mystery”, I believe that this election petition leaves a bad precedent for the future”. It is significant that the ex-President admits of “no legal training”. Given that position, he would find it difficult to appreciate the nitty-gritty of the process. It is easy for him to be carried away by the viva-voce expressions of his lawyers and the almost 48% or so supporters in the NDC would agree with him.

The reaction by Mahama is mind-boggling. What did he expect from their Lordships after the shambolic presentation of the petition? One does not go to court unprepared, and expect to win his case. The Lawyers of the Petitioner in the 2012 case spent sleepless nights to build up their case. We wonder if the handlers of the 2020 case did the same. Mahama had been an Assembly man, a Member of Parliament, a Minister, a Vice President and a President…what again? We have been inhibited from spilling out our inner feelings, because we love Ghana and we cherish the peace we are now enjoying. Domelovo's case had nothing to do with this. Nobody wrote Togolese or June 1960 for him. Nothing stops the NDC from doing an introspection, and reforming their structure. Don't tell us: “Don't give us advice”. Nobody is above being given advice. Nobody knows it all, Osei Boateng's report of democratic dictatorship in Ghana, an 'Africa Watch' of February/March 2021 should not deceive anyone into thinking that that is the situation in Ghana. He alleges.

“Many Ghanaians do not see much sense in how a credible national institution like the EC could suddenly become such a wreck. But the answer is simple. Those Ghanaians have not paid attention to the fact that since President Akufo-Addo took office in January 7, 2017, their nation has become a democratic dictatorship”, the reply to this is from the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) which admonishes Ghanaians that the verdict is “…another milestone in the annals of Ghana's history and a further test of our constitutional democracy… Ghana has won and we should work together to build the nation…”

The NPP should not allow this victory to get into their heads – they should not think everything is “okay”.  NPP had their representation whittled down from 169 to 137 (plus an independent MP). People are grieving and groaning. Those who are running the affairs in the NPP must listen to those on the ground. Power is sweet. It can lead one to complacency – and it is this complacency which could lead to something sinister.

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From Africanus Owusu-Ansah