Friday, January 11, 2013
Hearing of electoral petition - NPP OBJECTS TO PANEL
January 11, 2013 (Lead story) HEARING of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) application to join a suit challenging the declaration of President John Dramani Mahama as the winner of the 2012 Presidential polls was yesterday adjourned indefinetly. Legal brains of both parties had met to ‘knock legal horns’ for and against NDC’s application to join the case but that could not come on as counsel for the petitioners had an issue with the composition of the panel. The matter was adjourned to enable lawyers for the petitioners to file a formal application stating why they objected to the composition of the nine-member panel. The petitioners in the case are the Presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Aside from President John Dramani Mahama, who is the first respondent in the matter, the Electoral Commission (EC), has also been drawn in as the second respondent. According to the petitioners, irregularities recorded during the elections favoured the NDC, noting that 24,000 of the pink result sheets from some polling stations indicated that those irregularities were enough to affect the results. But the EC says the results were accurate and fair. Following the filing of the petition, the NDC applied through its General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, to be made party to the petition because it was indisputable that as the party which sponsored 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.” At exactly 10 a.m, the nine-member panel entered the packed courtroom which was filled by a large number of legal practitioners, party functionaries of both the NDC and the NPP as well as independent members of the public. Soon after lawyers representing the interested parties in the case had announced themselves, Mr Phillip Addison, a member of the NPP legal team prayed the court to allow the legal representation from all the sides to approach the Bench to enable his side raise a preliminary issue in camera as a sign of respect. However, the lead lawyer for the NDC, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, objected to Mr Addison’s call and explained that the petition had been made public and it was only fair that all issues raised in court were done publicly. Leaning on Rule 69 C of the new Supreme Court Rules (C.I. 74) to buttress his point, Mr Tsikata said the rule clearly stated that matters of such nature shall take place in open court. That, according to counsel, would not give room to peddling of rumours and speculations, adding that the petitioners had made several statements on the case in public and it was, therefore, inappropriate for them to seek to raise an issue in camera. Counsel for the President, Mr Tony Lithur held that the issue was “too serious to be held behind closed doors.” A large number of legal brains and party functionaries were present in court. Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr Bawumia sat alongside Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, the President was absent. Ms Gloria Akuffo, former Deputy Attorney-General led a nine-member NPP legal team while Mr Tsikata led a three-member NDC team with Mr Quashie-Idun leading a three-member legal team for the EC. The nine-member court was made up of Mr Justice William Atuguba (Presing), Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Annin Yeboah, Mr Justice P. Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice G. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo. Meanwhile, the NDC has filed a supplementary affidavit to its motion to join the petition. The affidavit which was filed today (January 9, 203) at 9:45 said “a denial of the applicant the opportunity to be joined so as to be heard in respect of this election petition would be a denial of the constitutional rights of the applicant.” But Nana Akufo-Addo is opposed to the NDC’s application for joinder on grounds that the move was aimed at delaying the trial.