16 January 2013

Ghana: NDC Joinder Begins Today

The much talked about National Democratic Congress (NDC) joinder to the election petition, filed in reaction to a challenge against the Electoral Commission's (EC's) declaration of President John Mahama as winner of the 2012 presidential poll is back in court today.

Counsel for New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer for the 2012 General Elections, Nana Akufo-Addo, his vice-presidential candidate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and Jake Okanta Obetsebi-Lamptey, National Chairman of the party, the petitioners, is expected to withdraw a preliminary objection raised against the composition of the Supreme Court panel during the last adjourned date.

And will further pave the way for the court to hear a motion to join the petition filed by the NDC.

Lead counsel for the petitioners, who cited the EC and President John Mahama as respondents to its claim before the court, in an in-camera hearing, objected to the membership of one of the nine-member panel scheduled to adjudicate the issue.

This made to court, presided over Justice William Atuguba to ask the petitioners to raise their objection in a motion filed before the court as it adjourned sitting indefinitely.

However, the directive of the court was short-lived, after lawyers for the petitioner, through a letter to the registrar of the Supreme Court, expressed their withdrawal of the objection they earlier on had raised, against the composition of the court and requested for a date for hearing of the motion for joinder filed by the NDC.

Security at the court is expected to be tight as scores of security personnel would be deployed to keep peace and security within the premises of the Supreme Court.

Other Supreme Court Justices on the panel are Justices Julius Ansah, Sophia Adinyira, Rose Owusu, Jones Dotse, Anin-Yeboah, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Sule Gbadegbe and Vida Akoto-Bamfo.

The NDC has filed a motion before the Court to join the petition brought against President John Mahama and the EC, explaining that the former was elected on its ticket, and it was prudent for the party to seek its interest in the proceedings of the case, since the decision of the court would affect it.

However, the presidential candidate of the NPP in the December 2012 general elections, Nana Akufo-Addo, has opposed the request of the NDC, seeking to be joined to the petition challenging the results of the polls.

According to the petitioners, the move by the NDC was a calculated act to delay the action challenging the 2012 presidential polls, which saw President John Dramani Mahama emerge winner with 50.7 per cent.

In an application filed on Saturday, January 5, 2013, opposing the NDC's request, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that the action of the NDC defeated the import of the new Supreme Court rule, which aims at securing an expeditious trial in a petition challenging the results of a presidential election.

The Supreme Court rule states that hearing of a petition against a presidential election shall be done on a daily basis, including public holidays.

Rule 69 C (5) of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Rules, 2012 (CI 74) provides in part as follows: "The Court shall sit from day to day, including public holidays", when hearing a presidential election petition.

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