June 24, 2013 (Page 24)
The petitioners challenging the declaration of Mr John Dramani Mahama as President are requesting the Supreme Court to direct the Electoral Commission (EC) to produce collation forms for 13 constituencies.
They are praying the court to order the EC “to produce, for inspection and photocopying”, the Presidential Election – Collation Results Forms for 13 constituencies across the country.
According to the petitioners, the granting of their request would enable their lead counsel, Mr Philip Addison, to do an effective cross-examination of the Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, “to demonstrate that the petitioners brought the instant action in good faith”.
The constituencies are Ledzokuku, Lower Manya Krobo, Tamale South, Techiman North, Yilo Krobo, Akuapem North, Berekum West, Kintampo South, Upper West Akim, Mporhor, Yendi, Ketu North and Oforikrom.
According to the petitioners, it had become necessary for them to make the request on the grounds that “all citizens of Ghana have a constitutional right, by virtue of Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution, to access information on such public documents as the Presidential Election – Collation Results Forms in the custody of the 2nd respondent, after the close of elections and declaration of results”.
The second respondent in the petition is the EC, while President Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are the first and third respondents, respectively.
“Undue Hardship would be occasioned”
An affidavit in support of the motion deposed to on behalf of the petitioners by the second petitioner, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, indicated that “no undue hardship would be occasioned by 2nd respondent in producing the documents requested for, as they relate to only 13 constituencies”.
It further pointed out that “the grant of the application will not occasion any prejudice or injustice to the case of 2nd respondent but will ensure a fair and effectual determination of the petition”.
June 25, 2013 fixed for hearing of motion
The motion, dated Friday, June 21, 2013 and filed on behalf of the petitioners by their solicitors, Akufo-Addo, Prempeh and Co., will be moved at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.
The affidavit said the EC had declined to heed the request of the petitioners, thereby necessitating the filing of the motion.
According to the motion, the EC was a body established by Article 43 of the 1992 Constitution and the provisions of the Electoral Commission Act 1993 (Act 451) and mandated under Article 45 C of the Constitution to conduct all public elections, including presidential elections.
It said the EC was under statutory obligation to keep the record of such elections for a minimum period of one year after any presidential election and where an election petition had been instituted, the EC was enjoined not to destroy any documents until the end of the proceedings.
“That in January 2013, counsel for the petitioners applied to this court for an order directed at 2nd respondent to produce for inspection and photocopying: (a) the Presidential Elections – Results Collation Forms for all the 275 collation centres (constituencies) for the presidential election; and (b) the Statement of Poll and Declaration of Results for the Office of President Forms (pink sheets) for all 26,002 polling stations,” the affidavit said.
It stated that the court, in a ruling dated February 7, 2013, “dismissed the application on the grounds that it was not necessary, seeing that all political parties and the petitioners had been given copies of both documents and that the application was premature”.
However, the affidavit said it became abundantly evident in the course of proceedings on June 13, 2013 that copies of Presidential Election – Collation Forms were not given to the political parties and/or candidates.
It said Dr Afari-Gyan, under cross-examination on Thursday, June 13, 2013, had told the court that he could produce the 2012 Presidential Election – Collation Results forms of the 13 constituencies listed in the instant motion paper.
The affidavit attached a letter from the petitioners requesting for original copies of result collation forms for the 13 constituencies and another letter from the EC refusing to adhere to the request on the grounds that the petitioners were out of time.
“Unlawful to deny access”
According to the affidavit, it was unlawful for the EC to deny citizens access to such documents because those documents were “neither confidential information nor secret documents”.
The other petitioners are the presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.