NDC’s Joinder Application: S C Adjourns Hearing; NPP Raises Objection To Panel Composition

The Supreme Court has adjourned sine dine the hearing of the preliminary joinder motion filed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) seeking to join the petition by the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and the National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, challenging the Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) declaration of President John Mahama as winner of the December 7 presidential poll as a respondent.

This was after lawyers for the petitioners raised objection to the composition of the panel of judges sitting on the case. They argued that the composition of the court, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, is skewed against them.

Lawyers for the three petitioners had asked for the hearing on the composition in chambers or in camera but the Court asked the NPP to raise its challenge to the panel composition in a motion.

The adjournment of the case is to allow the petitioners to file their motion formally stating their case against the constitution of the panel.

Nine Justices of the Supreme Court were empaneled to sit on the case. They include; Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo (Ms.), Justice Julius Ansah, Justice Annin-Yeboah, Justice Jones V. M. Dotse, Justice Rose C. Owusu (Ms.), Justice S. O. Adinyira (Mrs), Justice Mrs. Vida Akoto-Bamfo, Justice P. Baffoe Bonnie. It was chaired by Justice William Atuguba.

The NPP was represented in court by Philip Addison, Gloria Akufo, Fred Davis, Akoto Ampem, Kwame Akufo, Nana Asante Bediatuo, Godfred Dame, Egbert Faible, and Prof. Ken Attafuah.

The NDC was also represented by Tsatsu Tsikata, Sam Kudjoe, and Barbara Asamoah while the President was represented by Tony Lithur, Marita Brew and Dr. Abdul Basit Bamba.

The Electoral Commission’s legal team was led by James Idun Quashie and Stanley Amartefio.

An unimpressed Justice Atuguba who seemed unhappy with the NPP’s request to hear their objection in chambers said: “This country is solid but [it] is breaking down because principles are being chopped down to pedestrian levels.”

He said the court is a property of the public and therefore has no right to function privately. The judges however heard the NPP’s objection in chambers before directing the lawyers to file an official motion on their misgivings of the court.

The NDC’s supplementary affidavit, which was filed at 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday and deposed to on behalf of the General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, said, “A denial of the applicant the opportunity to be joined so as to be heard in respect of this election would be a denial of the constitutional rights of the applicant.”

According to the supplementary affidavit, the NDC had represented its interest, that of its presidential candidate and parliamentary candidates “in the deliberations of the Electoral Commission (EC) with all political parties and candidates in connection with the elections” and, for that reason, the party had the right to be joined to the petition.

The supplementary affidavit further pointed out that President Mahama was selected as a presidential candidate on the ticket of the NDC after the death of Professor John Evans Atta Mills and subsequently stood on the ticket of the party in the December 2012 elections.

It said the NDC “deployed throughout all the polling stations agents to represent the interests of its candidates in both presidential and parliamentary elections”.

It stated that it was indisputable that as the party which selected President Mahama to stand on its platform and on whose platform he stood, “the applicant herein has a vital interest in this petition and deserves to be joined as respondent and be heard in this petition”.

An affidavit in support of the substantive motion for joinder deposed on behalf of the NDC said the NDC as a party on whose ticket the President contested the elections “has a direct interest and a stake in the matter and will be affected by any decision of this honourable court”.

“As a party which will be directly affected by the decision, the NDC is entitled to be joined as a party and be heard in respect of the petition and seek to be joined by the motion herein,” it pointed out.

It said the NDC was a political party registered under the laws of Ghana and had, since the inception of the Fourth Republic, nominated and sponsored candidates for both parliamentary and presidential elections.

But Nana Akufo-Addo is opposed the NDC’s application for joinder on the grounds that the move was aimed at delaying the trial.

Hearing of the motion for joinder was fixed for today, but because of the petitioners’ challenge of the composition of panel of judges, the case has been adjourned indefinitely.