As the historic live television coverage of the election petition challenging the declaration of John Dramani Mahama as President begins, the anticipated hearing by the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday, hit the rocks.
The SC could not commence hearing on the petition filed before it by the 2012 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and two others, following the inability of the Electoral Commission (EC), which is a party to the case, to file its affidavit evidence, as previously directed by the court.
According to the EC, the five days given it to file its affidavit evidence before the court had not yet expired, and that it was in the process of filing them by the close of day yesterday.
The court, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, therefore, adjourned full hearing of the case to today, April 17, 2013, in the interest of justice, to enable the EC complete its filing processes, and serve all parties in the case.
The decision of the court came on the heels of a request by Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), a party to the petition, for the petitioners, which also include Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) running mate in the 2012 presidential election, and the NPP National Chairman, Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, to commence their case, with or without the EC’s affidavit evidence.
This assertion was supported by Mr. Tony Lithur, counsel for President John Dramani Mahama, and Mr. James Quarshie-Idun, counsel for the EC.
According to the respondents to the petition, once the court had indicated the commencement of the case yesterday, the petitioners should be able to start their case, whether or not there was the affidavit evidence filed by the EC.
The respondents were of the view that they were ready to face the petitioners, and called on them to commence their case before the court, as the EC files its affidavit later in the day.
Meanwhile, President Mahama and the NDC have already filed their affidavit evidence of about 7,100, and the EC is expected to file theirs by the close of day yesterday.
However, Mr. Philip Addison, lead counsel for the petitioners, objected to the views expressed by the respondents, admonishing that the orders of the court should be obeyed, in that all parties should be served with all affidavits before the case is commenced.
He further intimated that his clients could have commenced the case if the EC had filed its affidavit, since they considered the EC as an important party in the case.
Other panel members are Justices Julius Ansah, Sophia Adinyira, Rose Owusu, Jones Dotse, Anin-Yeboah, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Sule Gbadegbe and Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
The court, on April 2, this year, directed the respondents in the election petition to file their response by affidavits within five days after the petitioners had filed their case and served on them.
Nana Akufo-Addo and the two other petitioners are asking the court to annul 4,670,504 votes, representing votes cast in 11,916 polling stations across the country, for what they termed ‘gross and widespread irregularities’ recorded during the December 2012 polls.
However, the respondents have denied the assertions of the petitioners, noting that the results of the election, as declared, were credible.
Read more on the election petition hearing on page 13.