Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Accra and key capital cities will be rocked by demonstrations next week to force the Supreme Court to allow live telecast of proceedings. A group of pressure groups in Ghana are coming together to appeal to the Chief Justice to allow Ghanaians watch the events live.
Currently, journalists and even the state broadcaster GBC are not allowed into the court room. Everyone is searched, and devices such as recorders, mobile phones, watches and other similar devices are seized until after the court session. Ghanaian journalists and international media have described this as primitive.
Even lawyers coming from the law firms of the petitioners are denied access to the court rooms. Last month, 375 people who made a case to join were not even allowed in court, and they could not watch it. What is it that Kenya has done so well that Ghana is struggling to do?
But Ghana’s Supreme Court is required by regulation 69C of CI 74 to hear the Election Petition in open court, inquire into and determine the Petition expeditiously, sit from day to day, including weekends and holidays and adjourn the matter in “exceptional cases.”
The journalists who go to court have complained that they are unable to recall what happens in court since they are not allowed to take any recordable device to the court room. Unfortunately, after the court, Ghanaians have to depend on spin of the parties and typically, the General Secretaries of the NDC and NPP who were in court would tell us what happened. This is unconstitutional.
People watching it live would be judges unto themselves in the comfort of their homes but hoping for a ray of hope. Live telecast would remove any doubt from the minds of people. It will help to appreciate the situation quicker, tell whether the evidences being presented by the petitioners are credible or not. Having cautiously prepared the public this way, any eventual verdict pronounced by the Supreme Court would not come to hit them like a thunderbolt.
But the performance of the Supreme Court leaves much to be desired and most observers suspect the panel Chairman as the culprit. In February/March, the court was on a month’s break and it was only on the prompting of the petitioners that brought them back to work. During Easter, while the Court was on Easter break, the Kenyan Supreme Court was working and delivered its verdict.
Last month, Supreme Court refused to allow powerpoint presentation of the arguments by the petitioners saying they are “technology challenged”. But this cannot be so because the Chairman uses IPAD and all the panel members are very computer literate. The SC has recently been refurbished, judges trained and observer’s think the place is adequately set to receive power point presentation. The commercial courts have projectors and adequately set to receive presentations. Ghanaians think the Chief Justice must sit up, take over and stop sitting on the side-lines.
Some Ghanaians do not trust the Supreme Court judges headed by Mr. Justice W.A. Atuguba who last year delayed a series of judgement on the CI 75 and CI 78 that eventually allowed the EC to smuggle in 45 more constituencies a few days before closing of nominations for the Presidential elections.
Despite several cases brought to the SC to stop the EC from creating more constituencies, the SC by its acts of omission deliberately refused to determine the case until the CI was approved and matured in parliament.
Indeed if the SC had acted urgently, fairly and promptly, this nation won’t have found itself in the current mess. Another mistake, omission or commission on the part of the Supreme Court will spell a devastating blow to the nation now or in the nearest future.
Televising it will enhance the credibility and integrity of the judges who have by some acts of commission blemished their reputation in the eyes of a majority of the Ghanaian public. It is ironical that those who are against telecasting the events were the same people who forced the Government to telecast the court proceedings of the Ghana at 50 and the Wuako Commission reports.
This is not a normal court day. The constitution required that the session must be telecast live on TV. Since the process is going on in court and there’s no review, the SC must do the right thing.
Ghanaians are keenly watching events. Last week, Market women in Kumasi wore red armbands to show that they were keenly monitoring proceedings at the Supreme Court and called for speedy completion of the trial. Virtually all the markets in the city, including the Kwadaso, Asafo, Suame Anomangye, Bantama and the Central Markets were decorated with red by the market women. Most of the market women said though they love peace, but they would not remain indifferent if they detect that the Supreme Court justices intend to twist facts.
This coming Friday, 12th April 2013, Concerned Ghanaians against Electoral Fraud (COGEF) and other Ghanaian groups in London will stage demonstrations in the heart of Central London. The demonstrators will present a petition to the High Commissioner H.E. Prof Kwaku Danso Boafo and then move on to the Trafalgar Square, where petitions will be presented to the UK Prime Minister, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Dept. for International Development (DFID) and the House of Commons (Select Committee on Africa).
Strange things are happening in Ghana under the temporary reign of President John Dramani Mahama where for the first time in the history of the country, University teachers, SSS teachers, Doctors, Pharmacists and workers of the judiciary are on strike. The country is in difficult times and most Ghanaians would prefer that the President leaves the scene.
Speaking to cross-section political commentators, it was surprising that all those who spoke for telecasting the even were pro-NPP lawyers, and those opposing telecasting were pro-NDC lawyers. Unfortunately, the Chairman seems to be against telecasting. The SC is only gauging the mood of Ghanaians and if this blatant bully of the SC goes on unchecked, there will be a big shock. The Supreme Court is threading the nation to dangerous grounds and the National Peace Council should better step in and advise the Chief Justice to have the matter telecast.