Election Petition: Supreme Court delivers Judgement Today
There are striking similarities and differences between the two personalities at the centre of the “pink sheet war”.
One was sworn-in as President five months before the general election, while the other had to suspend his campaign and mourn with the newly sworn-in President and Ghanaians following the untimely demise of then President John Evans Atta Mills.
They are both Ghanaians, former parliamentarians, leaders of the two main political parties in Ghana, have committed to peace and declared their preparedness to accept the decision of the Supreme Court in their fight over the highest office of the land – the Presidency.
In a typical musical chairs scenario, one was lucky to have sat on the chair when the music stopped playing on December 9, 2012.
However, will the one on the chair be disqualified or allowed to continue sitting on it? Will the other be allowed to sit on it or will the music be played again to find out who finally has the last laugh?
Ghanaians will today get the answers to these questions when the Supreme Court, blessed with powers under Article 64 (1, 2 and 3) of the 1992 Constitution and the Supreme Court Amendment Rules, 2012, (CI 74), puts to rest the pink sheets legal battle which has been fought for the past eight months.
Article 64(1) of the 1992 Constitution provides: “The validity of the election of the President may be challenged only by a citizen of Ghana, who may present a petition for the purpose to the Supreme Court within twenty-one days after the declaration of the results of the election in respect of which the petition is presented.”
Article 64(2) says: “A declaration by the Supreme Court that the election of the President is not valid shall be without prejudice to anything done by the President before the declaration”, while 64 (3) states that “the rules of the Court Committee shall, by Constitutional Instrument, make rules of court for the practice and procedure for petitions to the Supreme Court challenging the election of a president”.
Thus the Supreme Court Amendment Rules, 2012 (CI 74) were promulgated in 2012 to set out modalities to be adhered to in the event a petition is filed to challenge a President’s legitimacy.
Who is Who?
The personalities in the middle of the “pink sheet war”, President John Dramani Mahama and the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the December 2012 presidential election, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, both campaigned vigorously for the presidency.
With powers conferred on him under Article 63 (9) of the 1992 Constitution, the Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, declared President Mahama the winner of the December 7 and 8, 2012 presidential election.
The battle shifted from the campaign grounds to the Supreme Court on December 28, 2012 when Nana Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, and the National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, filed a petition under Article 64 of the 1992 Constitution; Section 5 of the Presidential Election Act, 1992 (PNDCL 285) and Rule 68 and 68 A of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Rules 2012, CI 74.
Nana Akufo-Addo wants to be declared President on the grounds that there were gross and widespread irregularities at 10,119 polling stations and for that reason the annulment of 3,931,339 invalid votes at those polling stations would reduce President Mahama’s votes and guarantee his (Nana Akufo-Addo’s) seat at the Presidency.
President Mahama has fought back with the argument that he won the elections freely and transparently in the full glare of Ghanaians, the media, local and foreign observers.
Issues for Determination
The court will determine whether or not there were statutory violations, irregularities, commissions and malpractices in the December 7 and 8, 2012 presidential poll.
It will also determine whether or not those statutory violations, irregularities, omissions and malpractices (if any) affected the outcome of the presidential poll.
Justices William Atuguba, Julius Ansah, Sophia Adinyira, Rose Constance Owusu, Jones Victor Dotse, Anin Yeboah, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, N. S. Gbadegbe and Vida Akoto-Bamfo will take into consideration the evidence adduced, the laws of the land, both local and international authorities, the rules of court and other statutes before pronouncing the verdict, which has left many Ghanaians entertaining the fear of a possible escalation of violence after the judgement.
After considering the evidence adduced to prove allegations of over-voting, some persons voting without undergoing biometric verification, some presiding officers not signing pink sheets and some pink sheets having duplicate serial numbers, the court will determine whether or not to annul some or 3,931,339 million votes.
In the event of an annulment, the court will then decide whether or not the votes annulled are enough to affect the outcome of the poll.
Should the court hold that the votes to be annulled (if any) are not enough to affect the outcome of the presidential poll, it will affirm the EC’s declaration of President Mahama as the winner of the polls.
On the contrary, the court could either declare Nana Akufo-Addo the winner of the polls or order for a re-run of the election at affected polling stations.
Obviously, the stakes are high and, for that reason, Mr Philip Addison, Mr Tony Lithur, Mr James Quashie-Idun and Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, lawyers for the petitioners, President Mahama, the EC and the NDC, respectively, left no stone unturned in fighting to change or maintain the status quo of the presidency.
Declare Nana Akufo-Addo President
The petitioners indicate that using pink sheets from 10,119 polling stations, over-voting occurred at 1,722 polling stations, while voting without biometric verification occurred at 2,020 polling stations.
The irregularity of absence of presiding officers’ signature occurred at 1,638 polling stations, while the use of duplicate serial numbers on pink sheets affected 8,987 polling stations.
In all, 3,931,339 votes were affected by the various irregularities at the 10,119 polling stations being challenged by the petitioners.
According to the petitioners, when the results of those polling stations were annulled, President Mahama’s votes would be reduced by 2,622,551, which would result in him securing 41.79 per cent of the new tally of valid votes.
They said Nana Akufo–Addo’s votes would also be reduced by 1,233,186 but that would still see him securing 56.85 per cent of the new tally of valid votes, much more than the needed 50 per cent + 1 to be declared as winner of the election.
The petitioners also showed in their addresses that each of the four main irregularities on its own had a material impact on the results declared and that annulling the votes at the polling stations affected by any of the four irregularities would mean that the declared winner, Mr Mahama, did not secure the required over 50 per cent.
President Mahama beat Nana Akufo-Addo by 325,863 votes.
Maintain President Mahama
However, President Mahama, the EC and the NDC had all argued that the petitioners had failed to prove their case to warrant the annulment of votes and the subsequent declaration of Nana Akufo-Addo as the winner of the presidential poll.
According to the respondents there was no legal, logical or arithmetical basis for the call for the annulment of votes.
Betting on social media
Prejudicial and contemptuous remarks in the media were so serious during the hearing that the Supreme Court had to stamp its authority by “legally cleansing and sealing the mouths” of a few “wayward” social commentators and party bigwigs to avoid the country being turned into a state of anarchy.
Although the highest court of the land, by the powers conferred on it by the 1992 Constitution, has succeeded in restoring some amount of sanity into the body politic, party faithful and fanatics have moved their prejudicial comments to social media.
Some have even gone to the extent of betting and challenging one another over the outcome of the judgement.
The Police Administration has moved in to hunt rumourmongers on social media in its bid to sustain the country’s peace.
Measures to maintain sanity
As part of measures to sustain the country’s fledgling democracy, the Supreme Court, on countless occasions during the hearing, promised that the Judiciary would uphold and sustain the interest of Ghanaians against reckless politicians who did not have the interest of the state at heart.
The Police Administration has deployed more than 30,000 personnel across the country to maintain law and order.
The roads leading to the Supreme Court have been blocked to non-accredited persons, while only accredited persons will be allowed entry into the Supreme Court.
There are reports of panic buying for storage across the country, premised on the fear that violence may escalate after the delivery of the judgement.
Other reports also indicate that people are flying out of the country with their families to avoid being caught up in any possible turmoil after the declaration.
Non-governmental organisations and other bodies have rolled out peace messages on all platforms to sustain the country’s position as the Gateway to Africa.