Ghana’s Election 2020 Petition – Mahama accepts verdict with a pinch of salt

On March 4, 2021, the Supreme Court of Ghana threw out a petition filed by former President John Dramani Mahama challenging the validity of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as President-elect of the Republic of Ghana following the presidential and parliamentary elections held on December 7, 2020.

The Electoral Commission (E.C.) on December 9, 2020 declared the incumbent president as the winner of the presidential elections. Former President Mahama contended that none of the presidential candidates obtained the 50% + 1 winning mark, and sought a relief for a re-run.

In a series of press conferences and releases immediately after the declaration by the E.C., a livid National Democratic Congress (NDC) party leadership told the world that based on their own electoral analysis and collation it had won the presidential elections and majority seats in Parliament and incited their supporters and sympathizers to hit the streets of Ghana to protest the (election) results. In the course of the violent and chaotic demonstrations several properties were damaged. Eventually, the flagbearer of the NDC, former president John Mahama decided to seek redress in Ghana’s apex Court. After two months of legal wrangling at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, after more than two hours of detailed summation on behalf of his other six colleagues dismissed the petitioner’s petition as “without merit.” In his first public comment about the petition, former president Mahama indicated that anyone who critically followed the court proceedings wouldn’t be surprised by the final judgement of the highest court of the land….and we agree with President Mahama in toto. 

For the ordinary Ghanaian and non-legal minds, the petition was simply DOA (dead on arrival), because the petitioner went to the Supreme Court not with what he informed Ghanaians and the world but with the weakest link in the chain for a rerun. Legally, the petitioner basically unanimously lost every ruling on the various applications he sought till the final verdict. Obviously this informed the conclusions of the ex-President that the verdict was anticipated. The writing was on the wall for all to see except those who looked while standing on their heads.

 President Mahama’s decision to go to court was a step in the right direction. It sought to strengthen the nascent democracy of Ghana. However, the black spot in the scheme of things was the unnecessary incitement of his supporters to hit the streets and cause mayhem. Why ask party supporters to embark on rowdy demonstrations and then decide to seek redress in the Supreme Court? Former U.S. President Trump was impeached for inciting his followers to attack the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and we strongly opine that the new attorney general must and should institute an investigative panel to delve into the violence unleashed by the NDC that could have turned Ghana into a battlefield.  The hitherto, peaceful Ghana must not be hijacked by anyone with express and parochial interest.

In a post-verdict press conference, President John Dramani Mahama was alleged to have said inter alia that “this case will go into the Ghana Law Reports for the future, and academics and students of law alike will clearly find befuddling, the internal contradictions in our jurisprudence.” The case may enter the Ghana Law Reports as suggested by former President Mahama, but we are scratching our heads about “befuddling, the internal contradictions in our jurisprudence” in this petition.

In the maiden electoral petition of the December 2012 elections filed by then New Patriotic Party (NPP) Presidential candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akuf0-Addo, the nine-judge Supreme Court panel announced a 6-3 split decision in favor of the incumbent on August 29, 2013; the day after the verdict was revised to a 5-4, decision in favor of the incumbent, according to the Aturu Report commissioned by the Ford Foundation of the U.S.A. The Report further indicated that at least five of the justices voted in favor of the petitioners. “So, did the loser emerge as winner?” That premier electoral petition and the decision forthwith of the learned judges amidst the enormity of evidence adduced at court may rather be described as “befuddling,” and indubitably belongs in the Ghana Law Reports and case study for both law students and practitioners.

But then, the petitioner, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo accepted the verdict in good faith even though he disagreed with it. He did not incite his supporters to go out and cause havoc. Such is the quality of a true and selfless statesman. 

Incidentally, prior to the proceedings of the 2012 election petition Justice Atuguba, the presiding Judge said at a forum at Fordham University Law Center in New York City that “because of the current democratic dispensation of Ghana, any loser could go to Court, and there was nothing anyone could do about that.”

How prophetic!

Posted by on Mar 13 2021. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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