Supreme Court Rules: Mahama Winner!
The Supreme Court has finally ended the eight-month legal tussle over the disputed 2012 presidential election after it said John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was ‘validly elected’ as President, as declared by the Electoral Commission (EC).
The court dismissed the petition in a rather short judgment which lasted barely five minutes.
The verdict, which was supposed to be given in the morning, did not come off on time, as the Justices met for the last time before the ruling at about 1:00pm when they arrived in the courtroom.
Following the hotly contested Presidential Election on December 7 and 8, EC Chairman Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, declared the ruling NDC candidate winner with 50.70 percent of the valid votes cast.
The EC’s declaration did not go down well with the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) which subsequently filed a petition at the Supreme Court on December 28, 2012, through their flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his running mate Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and the party’s Chairman Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey after alleging widespread violations and irregularities.
However, the nine-member panel presided over by Justice William Atuguba, after dismissing the petition, asked the legal teams to contact the court’s registry for ‘our various judgments’, citing ‘convenience’ as the reason for not reading the whole judgment.
Already, some people have started raising issues with the judgment delivered yesterday as gaping holes were created by Justice Atuguba’s pronouncement.
In one breath, Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie is supposed to be part of the six justices that dismissed the claim of voting without biometric verification, but in another, he is reported to have granted the same claim.
‘Atuguba, Adinyira, Dotse, Baffoe-Bonnie, Gbadegbe and Akoto-Bamfo JJSC, dismissed the claim relating to voting without biometric verification.’
‘Baffoe-Bonnie JSC, grants the claim of voting without biometric cancels the results concerned and orders a re-run of the areas affected.’
This legal contradiction is raising questions about the true position of Justice Baffoe-Bonnie in the issue of voting without biometric verification.
The overall effect of the judgement was that President Mahama was declared validly elected by a 6 to 3 majority, while on the issue of a re-run; he won by a majority of 5 to 4.
The breakdown was that over-voting was dismissed by a majority of 5 to 4, voting without biometric verification was dismissed by 6 to 3, absence of signature of Presiding Officers on pink sheets was dismissed by 5 to 4.
Duplicate serial numbers, Duplicate Polling Station Codes and Unknown Polling Stations were all dismissed unanimously.
‘Upon a scrutiny of the petition, we found that the issues to be determined are set out on page 125 of the counsel for petitioners as follows: Over-voting, voting without biometric verification, absence of the signature of the presiding officer, duplicate serial numbers (that is to say occurrence of the same serial number on pink sheet for two different polling stations), duplicate polling station codes (that is to say occurrence of different serial number on pink sheets for polling stations with the same polling station codes), unknown polling stations (results recorded that are not part of the 26,002 polling stations provided by the 2 nd petitioner for the election).
‘We unanimously dismiss the claims relating to duplicate serial numbers, duplicate polling station codes and unknown polling stations.
‘Atuguba, Adinyira, Baffoe-Bonnie, Gbadegbe and Akoto-Bamfo dismiss the claim of over-voting.
‘Atuguba, Adinyira, Baffoe-Bonnie, Gbadegbe and Akoto-Bamfo dismiss the claim relating to absence of signature of the presiding officer.
‘Atuguba, Adinyira, Dotse, Baffoe-Bonnie, Gbadegbe and Akoto-Bamfo JJSC, dismiss the claim relating to voting without biometric verification.
‘Ansah, Owusu and Anin Yeboah JJSC, grant all the three claims that is to say over-voting, absence of signature of the presiding officer and voting without biometric verification and all the votes involved and order a re-run in the affected areas.
‘Dotse JSC grants the claim of over-voting but has provided a roadmap in his judgement as to the figures of votes to be ascertained and cancelled and a re-run of the areas affected.
‘Dotse upholds the claim relating to the absence of presiding officers signatures on the pink sheets, cancels the results concerned and orders a re-run of the areas affected.
‘Baffoe-Bonnie grants the claim of voting without biometric, cancels the results concerned and orders a re-run of the areas affected.
‘In the circumstances, the overall effect is that the 1 st respondent (JDM) is validly elected and the petition is therefore dismissed.’
The petitioners sought reliefs including ‘A declaration that ‘John Dramani Mahama was not validly elected president of the Republic of Ghana.’
They also wanted the court to declare that ‘Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 1st Petitioner herein, rather was validly elected President of the Republic of Ghana,’ as well as, ‘Consequential orders as to this court may deem fit.’
The panel specifically looked at whether or not statutory violations, irregularities and malpractices occurred in the conduct of the election and whether they affected the outcome.
Polling stations involved
The original number of polling stations that the petitioners were relying on was 11,842 as fully set out in the further and better particulars together with the various infractions so that each polling station was identified together with its infractions.
Subsequent to the 11,842 there had been various reductions and after close of evidence, they said they were relying on 10,119 polling stations.
The petitioners specifically wanted the court to strike out 3,916,385 votes due to what they said were statutory violations, irregularities and malpractices.
They had insisted that per their analysis, President Mahama’s 5,574,761 as declared by the EC on December 9, 2012 should have been 2,952,210, representing 41.79% since votes totalling 2,622,551 out of the figure announced were invalid.
In the same vein, the petitioners said that the 5,248,898 declared by the Dr. Afari-Gyan for Nana Akufo-Addo should have been 4,0157,12 representing 56.85% since 1,233,186 of the votes were invalid and should be annulled.
The petitioners had claimed that over-voting alone totalled 742,492 and 502,013 inured to the benefit of President Mahama with 225,155 going to Nana Akufo-Addo.
In the ‘No Verification No Vote’ category, the total votes affected were 810,827 and out of the total, 558,236 people who voted without biometric verification were attributed to President Mahama while Nana Akufo-Addo got 234,161, according to the petitioners.
Unsigned Pink Sheets
On the ‘No signature by Presiding Officers’ category, the total valid votes affected was 659,135 and 447,655 were attributed to President Mahama while Nana Akufo-Addo got 197,628, according to the petitioners.
Duplicate Serial Numbers
On the ‘Duplicate Serial Numbers’ category, the petitioners said that 3,499,308 valid votes were affected and 2,338,993 were attributable to President Mahama while 1,093,661 were given to Nana Akufo-Addo, the petitioners claimed finally.
Mahama’s Excess Votes
The petitioners had asked the court to look critically at the votes obtained by President Mahama and those attained by NDC parliamentary candidates put together during the election, since what Mr. Mahama obtained was far in excess of the total votes of all NDC parliamentary candidates, but the court did not consider that claim.
Minority Instead of Majority
During the trial, Philip Addison, leading the petitioners in evidence, had alerted the court that President Mahama garnered 5,574,761 as against 5,127, 641 by all his parliamentary candidates showing a difference of 447,120.
In the same vein, Nana Akufo-Addo obtained 5,248,898 votes and his parliamentary candidates had 5,248,882 which showed a difference of only 16.
According to the petitioners, the NDC Majority in Parliament secured 121,221 votes less than the Minority (NPP).
Justice William A. Atuguba , president of the panel, has been at the Supreme Court since May 1998, Justice Julius Ansah http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Julius_Ansah&action=edit&redlink=1 (since July, 2004), Justice Mrs Sophia Ophilia Adjeibea Adinyira http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sophia_Ophilia_Adjeibea_Adinyira&action=edit&redlink=1 (since 2006), Justice Rose Constance Owusu http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rose_Constance_Owusu&action=edit&redlink=1 (since June, 2008), Justice Jones Victor Mawulom Dotse http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jones_Mawulom_Dotse&action=edit&redlink=1 (since June, 2008), Justice Anin Yeboah http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Anin_Yeboah&action=edit&redlink=1 (since June, 2008), Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Paul_Baffoe-Bonnie&action=edit&redlink=1 (since June, 2008), Justice Sule Nasiru Gbadegbe http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sule_Gbadegbe&action=edit&redlink=1 (since Oct 2009) and Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=William_Atuguba&action=edit&redlink=1 (since Oct 2009). http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Vida_Akoto-Bamfo&action=edit&redlink=1
But for a few documents including letters and tape recordings, all other documents used as exhibits throughout the trial were Statement of Poll and Declaration of Results forms popularly called Pink Sheets, due to its colour. They were all filed by the petitioners.
The court scuttled a threat by the NDC that they were bringing 11,000 witnesses to testify in the petition and subsequently restricted oral evidence to only the parties.
As a result, only Dr. Bawumia testified on behalf of the petitioners, Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah for both President Mahama and the NDC and for the Electoral Commission, Dr. Afari-Gyan, as the Returning Officer for the Presidential Election.
The court also brought in Nii Amanor Dodoo, Head of Audit Practice and a senior partner of the accounting firm KPMG to testify, after the firm had been chosen by the parties to count the number of pink sheets.
The Legal Teams
The petitioners had Philip Addison as lead counsel, supported by Stephen Dapaah Addo, Ms. Gloria Akuffo, Frank Davies, Alex Quaynor, Akoto Ampaw, Kwame Akuffo, Nana Asante Bediatuo, Godfred Yeboah Dame, Egbert Faibille and Prof. Kenneth Attafuah.
Tony Lithur represented President Mahama with support from Dr. Abdul Bassit Aziz Bamba, while James Quashie-Idun (lead), Anthony Dabi, Stanley Amartefio, Freda Bruce Appiah and Stephanie Amartefio came in for the EC.
The NDC had Tsatsu Tsikata as lead counsel with Samuel Codjoe supporting.
In what can be described as the first of its kind in the history of the Judiciary, the court on Tuesday, April 16, agreed to telecast the proceedings live on television and radio, probably taking a cue from what had happened in Kenya in a similar petition.
By William Yaw Owusu
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