Monday, January 28, 2013

Election petition - Parties make more demands

January 25, 2013 (Front page) Apart from the fierce courtroom battle which ensued in the past week, parties in the petition challenging the results of the December 7, 2012 presidential election are making a number of demands from one another. The Electoral Commission (EC), which presided over the election and is the second respondent in the petition; President John Dramani Mahama, who has been dragged into the petition as the first respondent and the petitioners themselves are all demanding additional documents to enable them to put up solid cases. While the President and the EC have requested the petitioners to provide them with names and codes of the 4,709 polling stations, constituencies and regions where alleged electoral irregularities took place, the petitioners, on the other hand, have requested the EC to provide them with details of the names and addresses of people who were registered overseas and the mode and manner in which those people were registered. The petitioners are also asking for declaration forms for all polling stations in the 2012 presidential election, minutes of all meetings held between the EC and the political parties between 2010 and 2012, as well as the special voters list used in the 2012 presidential election. In any case, correspondence between lawyers for the petitioners and the EC clearly indicates that it is only the Supreme Court that can resolve the matter. For instance, a letter dated January 11, 2013 and signed by Lynes Quashie-Idun and Co and addressed to solicitors for Nana Akufo-Addo is asking the petitioners to furnish the EC with additional particulars on how the petitioners arrived at the conclusion that 1,342,845 votes had been rendered invalid by reason of irregularities recorded during the elections. The EC’s solicitors stated, “In view of the allegation of fraudulent intention or other condition of mind contained in Paragraph 26 of the petition, we also request particulars of the deliberate, well-calculated and executed ploy or a contrivance on the part of the respondents with the ultimate object of unlawfully assisting first respondent to win the December 2012 election.” Paragraph 26 of the petition states, “The petitioners say that all of the irregularities and electoral malpractices captured above were nothing but a deliberate, well-calculated and executed ploy or a contrivance on the part of the respondents with the ultimate object of unlawfully assisting the first respondent (President) to win the 2012 December presidential election.” However, solicitors for the petitioners, in a reply dated January 15, 2013, said, “In the circumstances, we consider it appropriate to await the second respondent’s formal application for the order of the court and better particulars.” The Registrar of the Supreme Court has been copied with the correspondence between the EC and the petitioners. To buttress the decision of the petitioners not to release any further particulars until directed to do so by the court, Nana Akufo-Addo, in an affidavit in opposition to the EC’s request for further and better particulars, stated that the EC “ought not to be permitted to employ an application for further and better particulars to compel the petitioners to disclose the nature of evidence petitioners intend to lead during the trial”. The NDC, which was allowed to join the petition as the third respondent, has since been served with the amended petition to reflect it (NDC) as the third respondent in the petition, which has the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, and Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, as the contestants of the election results. Rule 69 A (4) of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Rules, 2012 (C.I. 74), says a respondent may apply for further and better particulars in order to prepare adequately for a case. The arbiter in the case, which happens to be the Supreme Court, is expected to hear the motion for further and better particulars from lawyers for the EC and the President on January 29, 2013. It will then decide whether or not to grant the motion from the two sides. The petitioners, on the other hand, can also apply to the Supreme Court to direct the EC to furnish them with the needed documents if the EC does not meet their demands. The highest court of the land will fix a date for hearing of the substantive matter after all preliminary legal issues are resolved. Hearing is expected to be held on a daily basis, including weekends and holidays. Rule 69 C (5) of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Rules, 2012 (C.I. 74) provides in part as follows: "The Court shall sit from day to day, including public holidays," for a speedy disposal of a presidential election petition. By virtue of provisions in the Supreme Court (Amendment) Rules, 2012 (C.I. 74), the matter will be determined once and for all, since no provision is made for a review of the court’s decision, although the 1992 Constitution gives the court the mandate to review its own decisions. A former Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, is leading the 10-member legal team for the petitioners, while Mr Tony Lithur and Mr Tsatsu Tsikata are leading a number of lawyers to make a case for the President and the NDC, respectively. The EC is being represented by Mr James Quashie-Idun. Security will continue to be tight until the final determination of the case, which is being witnessed by only accredited persons.

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