June 27, 2013 (Lead Story)
AFTER several warnings to political activists, social commentators, lawyers
and journalists, the Supreme Court on June 26, 2013 shot its “legal bullet” and
barred the Deputy Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party
(NPP), Mr Sammy Awuku, from attending further hearings of the ongoing
presidential election petition.
the court’s orders, any other person or groups of persons who from now
on undermine the authority of the court will face a harsher wrath of the
Remorseful Mr Awuku apologised and promised to retract contemptuous
comments he passed about the Supreme Court’s order to journalists and
lawyers to refrain from making prejudicial comments about the election
petition, but the court decided to crack the whip by excluding him from
appearing in court until the final determination of the petition.
In a unanimous ruling, a visibly upset Mr Justice William Atuguba, on
behalf of his colleagues, deplored the “pompous power” of political
leaders and said the court would have none of it henceforth.
The court had earlier sought for the whereabouts of Mr Awuku, who
later appeared after the court’s break, retracted his accusation of the
court being selective and promised to retract same on the platform where
he made those comments.
He also promised to retract the said contemptuous statements on other
platforms after he had been made to stand in open court for close to
one hour to await his fate from the bench, which retired to chambers.
While standing, some lawyers for the petitioners and other party stalwarts took turns to lend support to Mr Awuku.
Powers of the judiciary
The court noted with concern the continuous degeneration of public
respect for the judiciary over the past years and also maintained that
it had realised its June 24, 2013 order had not been taken seriously by
It, accordingly, reminded the public that the judiciary was the third
arm of government and had been given enormous powers by the state to
uphold the laws of the country, as well as to protect the interest of
It condemned the attempt by some persons to use pompous show of power
through “deliberate propaganda” to disturb the stability of the
According to the court, it will not renege on its duty to protect the
citizens of the country and maintained that failure to exercise its
powers to check political organisations from falsely whipping up the
passions of their members “will be a recipe for chaos”.
The court stated that much as it had accepted the apology from the
lawyers for the petitioners and lawyers for the respondents, it could
not allow such inaction to continue and reminded Ghanaians that it was
determined to carry out its earlier orders for decorum.
It emphasised that the time had come for it to crack the whip to
serve as a deterrent to persons whose actions and utterances had the
tendency to undermine the security and safety of citizens.
Prez Mahama not exempted
Although the court had on several occasions warned right from the
beginning of the hearing that all persons should desist from making
prejudicial comments, those warnings have not been heeded.
What was unique about yesterday’s warning was that the President of the Republic, Mr John Dramani Mahama, was not exempted.
Sounding a note of caution to all persons, including the President,
the court said anybody who would make prejudicial misreports or
misguided statements on the ongoing petition, would not be spared the
wrath of the court, which has been vested with enormous power to protect
the sanctity and stability of the state.
Let no one take this lightly
Mr Justice Atuguba then informed the court that the bench had taken
such decision with “great par”, adding, “We want Ghanaians to enjoy
Speaking on behalf of other members of the court, Mr Justice Atuguba
said deliberate attempts to provoke conflict in Ghana would not be
“Let no one take this lightly, we want to let people to be happy in
this country. After this step, others will have it different,” Mr
Justice Atuguba cautioned.
Members of the bar expressed gratitude to the court.
The final warning
The Supreme Court on June 24, 2013, descended heavily on lawyers and
media houses that do not give accurate accounts of what transpires in
the ongoing presidential petition.
Sounding a last caution especially to journalists, the court
expressed its rage over a section of the media’s “spins and twists” over
the petition hearing and warned that it would henceforth not
countenance any such inaction.
Making reference to misguided comments from some lawyers and
distortion of facts by some media houses, the court specified its
preparedness to henceforth crack the whip on anyone whose action
undermined its authority.
“We have taken the position that any person – be in the media or not –
who crosses the final touchline of the proper coverage and reportage on
the court proceedings will be met with the appropriate response from
the court,” it stated.
Daily Guide Warned Again
Earlier, Mr Justice Atuguba brought out a copy of the Tuesday, June
25, 2013 edition of the Daily Guide newspaper with the headline,
“Atuguba Goes Wild,” and made reference to how the newspaper decided to
capture the court’s warning in that form of headline.
The newspaper’s headline was in connection with the court’s June 24,
2013 order to journalists and especially Daily Guide, who the court
accused of misreporting on Mr Justice Atuguba’s alleged missing copy of
“We do not want to be too hard on these matters,” he said while
holding the paper high, adding, “I do not know if they would be prepared
to receive wild sentence from me.”
Clarification on Court’s Orders
The court also observed that a large section of the media reported
that the court in a 7-2 decision on June 24, 2013 dismissed the
petitioners request for a soft copy of the audit firm’s report on the
audit of pink sheets.
According to the court, it understood the misreporting because it
conceded it was not explicit in separating the ruling on the KPMG soft
copy and its ruling on a request by lead counsel for the petitioners, Mr
Philip Addison, that the matter be adjourned to Thursday, June 27, 2013
to enable his team to study the audit report submitted by KPMG.
Mr Justice Atuguba, therefore, clarified that the court unanimously
ruled against the petitioners request for soft copies of the KPMG report
while the 7-2 majority ruling was in respect of a request by lead
counsel for the petitioners, Mr Philip Addison, that the matter be
adjourned to Thursday, June 27, 2013 to enable his team to study the
audit report submitted by KPMG.
He also stated that because of the technical nature of legal issues
and the fact that both rulings were not very clear, “we will take it
that it should go”.
However, he warned that henceforth the court would not countenance
anybody who would resort to improper sources of acquiring information,
as well as misrepresentation of issues in court.