What Supreme Court should Tell The NPP

The Supreme Court of Ghana will soon deliver its judgment on an election petition filed by three leading members of Ghana's opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). The petition is challenging the result of the December 7th and 8th presidential election in Ghana.

The Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) had already declared President John Dramani Mahama winner of the Presidential election soon after ballots were counted, and the President has been in office since January 2013.

The court ruling will follow months of hearings and testimonies from both petitioners and the respondents in the case. Hearing was make public and aired on National Television stations. The court had also received written and oral addresses from all the parties involved in the case.

The decision will have far reaching implication on Ghana's democracy, security, and the integrity of the Supreme Court. Whether or not the parties involved in the case accept the court's decision is another matter.

But the decision will send a clear signal as to where the Supreme Court would want to be situated on election matters in the country. It is very unclear whether the court has the authority to accept the calculations of political parties, with all the conflict of interest, against what the constitutionally mandated Electoral Commission had earlier declared.

The NPP petitioners did not miss words in their demands of the court. They are seeking the court to annul the results of the December 2012 presidential election and declare their candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, winner contrary to what the EC had declared earlier.

The respondents in the case; the EC, President John Dramani Mahama, and his party the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) are asking the court to dismiss NPP's claims as without merit and in bad faith.

If the court upholds the petitioners pleadings, and goes ahead to annul the results of the election and declare that Nana Akufo Addo, and not John Dramani Mahama, won the December 2012 polls. It will be setting a precedent unheard of in the annals of election in modern democracy. The Court will also be opening the floodgates for any political party that loses miserable at the polls to come knocking at its doors with bundles of election returns receipt (pink sheet) asking the court to annul result on its bases.

The national security implications for such a floodgate opening cannot be over stated, and if care is not taken it could jeopardize democracy in Ghana. The economic implications are even worse. It has the potential to drive away foreign capital investment in the country because of the instability and constant leadership crisis.

The Supreme Court will also be putting itself at the heart of partisan politics. This will not auger well for the independence and impartiality of the court as cases of such nature have the potential to foster public perception of partiality on the part of Supreme Court.

Already, the independence of the Supreme Court of Ghana has been dragged in the mud since former President Kufour appointed Her Lordship Mrs. Justice Georgina wood Chief Justice. The family intertwines between members of the bench and leading politicians has been used by certain quarters to raise eyebrows. All this does not auger well for sanctity and integrity of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court of Ghana has another option. It could use this case to send a clear signal to political parties that it will not accept baseless cases that are of no merit or evidence. It could tell the NPP that it did not prove its case. All the NPP did was to wave pink sheet after pink sheet in the face of any witness that appeared before the court.

The NPP claimed it has evidence of over-voting, yet throughout the proceedings it did not lead a single witness in evidence to prove it. The petitioners led Dr. Bawumia, their sole witness, in evidence. His testimony fell very flat. It is doubtful whether the man had even read the Electoral Guidelines. At a point Dr. Bawumia contradicted the very reason NPP were in court. Lawyer for the NDC Mr. Tsikata asked Dr. Bawumia whether or not they were in court because they want to make the first petitioner (Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo) president. 'No,' Dr. Bawumia replied. 'We are in court because of irregularities, over voting, and voting without biometric verification,' he continued. As if he was reading from a comic book.

The petitioners also claimed some voters did not go through the biometric verification process; again it did not provide any evidence of it nor lead a witness in evidence of such. Again, Dr. Bawumia, NPP's sole witness was asked to prove voting without biometric verification. The NPP vice President Candidate claimed he was not at any polling station, and therefore unable prove that voting took place without biometric verification.

Whenever objections are raised on the petitioners' apparent lack of evidence, they point to the election returns receipt (pink sheet) as if it is the primary evidence or information on voting in Ghana. Pink Sheets are not votes, they are receipts issued to parties as records of the votes countred. A record can be wrong, and if wrong could be corrected by using the primary evidence, which is the ballots that were used at polling stations across the country to cast votes.

To all the NPP supporters out there, none of you was asked to appear before the court and testify that you saw vote counting where the total votes cast were more than the number of voters on the register. That is what the EC defines as over-voting. You also did not show up in court to say you saw someone vote without going through the biometric verification process. If your lawyers were that confident in you and your claims, don't you think they would have brought at least one of you forward to testify? They did not because you have no evidence of your claims.

The Supreme Court should tell the NPP that it has lost the elections. It should tell the NPP that its evidence did not pass the smell test. It should remind the NPP that the people of Ghana elect presidents, and that the Court does not install people as heads of state of Ghana.

The Supreme Court should also tell the NPP that C.Is are not provisions of the constitution. They become null and void if their provisions contravene articles of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. It is clear that C.I 75, which the NPP cited as the reason for annulling votes that are not biometrically verified, is unconstitutional.

C.I. 75 is inconsistent with article 42 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which defines the qualification of voters in the country. C.I 75 also added an additional burden on voting rights of Ghanaians. It prohibits Ghanaians from voting without being biometrically verified, an additional burden. The right to vote is not discretionary. It is a mandatory right.

No institution of state, including the Supreme Court, can deny a Ghanaian citizen who is of sound mind and has express his willing to exercise his voting right the opportunity to do so. Unless it can be proven that such a person fail to qualify under article 42 of the Constitution.

The NPP must also be reminded that sometimes it is better to offer goodwill toward others. May be if you did that your candidate will not fall off stage while campaigning in a presidential election.

Abdul Sidibe

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