July 11, 2013 (Front page)
THE nine-member Supreme Court panel hearing the presidential election petition has advised the public to stop afflicting the bench with letters bordering on the petition.
Before the beginning of the hearing of the petition at the court’s sitting in Accra yesterday, the President of the panel, Mr Justice William Atuguba, drew the public’s attention “to a development afflicting us.”
According to Justice Atuguba, some highly placed persons were writing letters to the panel about the ongoing petition, making suggestions, adding that “technically, it is wrong to write to the court in this manner.”
Other members of the panel hearing the petition are 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.
Serving a warning to persons to desist from the practice of inundating the court with letters, Justice Atuguba said such acts were contemptuous and must, therefore, “cease.”
He said some of the authors included professors and further reminded the public that contempt issues did not only relate to publishing articles in the media.
The court, on June 24, 2013 issued a final warning to lawyers, political activists, social commentators and journalists to desist from making prejudicial and contemptuous comments on the election petition.
Three persons have so far been a casualty of the court’s wrath for disobeying its orders.
First to suffer the legal wrath of the court was the Deputy Director of Communications of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Sammy Awuku, who has since been barred from the court until the final determination of the case.
The Editor of the Daily Searchlight newspaper, Kenneth Agyei Kuranchie, who was jailed 10 days for making contemptuous remarks about the bench, ends his incarceration today.
Another person, a member of the communication team of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Stephen Atubiga, has completed a three-day sentence by the Supreme Court for a similar offence.
The court is currently on the heels of the General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, for allegedly passing contemptuous comments about the court.
His fate will be decided after the court hears a tape on the alleged comments.
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 New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, are the petitioners in the case.
The petition, which was filed on December 28, 2012 is alleging gross and widespread electoral irregularities of over-voting, persons voting without undergoing biometric verification, some polling stations having duplicate serial numbers and some presiding officers not signing pink sheets (statement of poll and declaration of results form for the office of president).
But the respondents, namely President John Dramani Mahama, the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have denied the claims.