11 January 2013

Ghana: Supreme Court Was Like a War Zone

Security was very tight at the Supreme Court yesterday, as the court attempted to begin hearing the landmark election petition filed by the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and two others, against the declaration of President John Dramani Mahama as winner of the 2012 presidential election.

Dozens of fully armed uniformed policemen and plainclothes national security personnel were positioned at vantage positions, akin to a war zone. The tension could be felt as soon as one stepped into the premises, though litigants and other court users went about their responsibilities calmly.

Security personnel arrived at the court premises as early as 6:00 a.m., and positioned their gadgets at strategic points to ensure peace and security within the premises of the court, so that the legal brains prosecuting and defending the writ before the justices of the Supreme Court were not distracted

People without accreditation were not allowed to get close to the Supreme Court, where the petition was being adjudicated.

The security personnel took their stand at all the entry points into the court premises, others created a barricade at the entrance of the Supreme Court building, many more were positioned at strategic places scattered within the court premises, while others took their positions at the entrance of the court room, as some manned the security scanner installed at the entrance of the court room.

Lawyers and media personnel were stripped of metallic items likely to obstruct security checks; such as recorders, steel pens, cameras, and mobile phones, before being allowed to go through the scanner with only plastic pens, and other paper related items, and greeted with a neatly kitted court room that had received a face-lift with a red-woollen-carpet.

Due to the presence of the security personnel, the usual rowdy sympathisers of the two main political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), were totally absent from the court premises.

The case before the court attracted political big-wigs and power brokers within the two major political parties in the country, including high-profile lawyers. A few sympathisers of the two parties were not left out of the scenery.

Spotted in court were the 2012 NPP flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, his vice-presidential candidate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and the party's National Chairman, Jake Okanta Obetsebi-Lamptey, who are petitioners in the election petition, pending before the Supreme Court.

Other political personalities within the NPP included Mike Oquaye Jnr., Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, General Secretary of NPP, W.O. Boafo, Frema Opare, Gladys Asmah, Stanley Adjiri Blankson, Joseph Ghartey, the second Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Member of Parliament (MP), Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Kwamena Bartels, Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, Yaw Osafo Maafo and Gloria Akuffo, who is a member of the legal team for the party.

Meanwhile, personalities from the NDC spotted included Johnson Aseidu Nketia, General Secretary of NDC, Kofi Portuphy, NADMO Co-ordinator, Yaw Boateng Gyan, National Organiser, Anita De-sooso, Women Organiser, George Lawson, Deputy General Secretary, Dr. Kwabena Adjei, National Chairman and Dr. Dominic Ayine, MP for Bolgatanga East.

However, after all the hullabaloo, hearing could not commence in the case, as the petitioners objected to the composition of the 9-member Supreme Court panel, headed by Justice Atugugba. The court asked them to raise their objection by motion, and adjourned sine die.

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