June 28, 2013 (Lead Story)
The Supreme Court is on the heels of three persons for allegedly making prejudicial statements on the ongoing presidential election petition.
They are: Mr Kenneth Agyei Kuranchie, Editor of the Daily Searchlight newspaper; Stephen Atubiga, a member of the communication team of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and Kwaku Boahen, the Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser of the NDC.
The three have been ordered to appear before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.
Barely 24 hours after barring the Deputy Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Sammy Awuku, from attending hearing of the case until the final determination of the matter, the court issued the new directive following utterances made by the three persons, which the court did not deem appropriate.
Mr Atubiga is said to have warned that the NDC would not accept the verdict of the court if the first petitioner and 2012 Presidential Candidate of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was declared the president of the country.
Ken Kuranchie is being summoned before the court for a front page comment he published in the Thursday, June 27 edition of his newspaper.
For crossing the court’s final touchline which warned lawyers, journalists, political activists and social commentators to desist from making prejudicial comments about the election petition from June 24, 2013, the three are expected to present themselves before the court by 10 am on July 2, 2013.
The court will determine their fate on that day, according to Mr Justice Atuguba, who issued the warning on behalf of his colleagues after they had returned from break.
Prior to the commencement of the court’s business for the day, Mr Justice Atuguba announced that the court had heard Mr Awuku’s apology but noted that from the content of Mr Awuku’s apology, it appeared he wanted, “a rematch” but added, “we will let that pass for now.”
The court held that it had observed that there was some resilience on the part of some persons to its numerous warnings for decorum to prevail and cautioned that so far as the judiciary was concerned, all those irresponsible utterances and behaviours would be nipped in the bud.
Mr Justice Atuguba said the court would continue to stamp its authority to ensure that sanity prevailed in the country, “until this nonsense is totally eradicated.”
Gabby Assumeng saved by statutory limitation
The court made reference to a story in the June 27, 2013 edition of the New Statesman attributed to a member of the NDC communication team, Mr Gabby Assumeng, who said the NDC would not accept the decision of the Supreme Court when it went against the party, but said it had been “stopped by statutory limitation.”
That, according to the court, was because its final touchline warning took effect from June 24, 2013 but Mr Assumeng’s comments were made earlier.
We respect everybody
Reminding Ghanaians of the seriousness of the court to protect the interest of the country, the court said it respected everybody but indicated that no group or groups of people “should think they must have their way at all cost.”
“That will not happen as far as we are concerned,” Mr Atuguba gave the warning before a partner and the Head of Audit Tax of KPMG, Nii Amanor Dodoo, mounted the witness box to testify on its audit of the pink sheets, which are at the heart of the presidential election petition.
Other members of the panel were: Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose C. Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Anin Yeboah, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
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 President of the court, Mr Justice William Atuguba, expressed the court’s rage over “the spins and twists” by a section of the media in the petition hearing and warned that the court would henceforth not countenance any such actions.
Making reference to misguided comments by some lawyers and distortion of facts by some media houses, Mr Justice Atuguba, on behalf of the court, specified the court’s preparedness to crack the whip on anyone whose action undermined the authority of the court.
“We have taken the position that any person, be in the media or not, who crosses the final touchline of proper coverage and reportage on the court proceedings will be met with the appropriate response from the court,” he said.
The court reminded Ghanaians of the powers vested in the Judiciary to protect the sanctity of the state and said the court was not prepared to let down the authority and powers of the state which he described as “paramount.”
The petitioners who 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, want more than four million votes annulled because some persons voted without undergoing biometric verification; some presiding officers did not sign pink sheets and some polling stations have the same serial numbers and over-voting.
The President and the NDC have argued that there is no logical, arithmetical or other basis upon which the petitioners came to the conclusion that the four million plus votes cast in the December 7 and 8, 2012 presidential election should be annulled.
The Electoral Commission (EC) has denied any wrongdoing in the polls and maintains that the elections were generally free, fair and transparent.