22 January 2013

Ghana: Tight Security at Supreme Court

Security is expected to be tight around the Supreme Court building and beyond today, as the court delivers its ruling as to whether or not the NDC should be allowed to be joined to the petition filed by three members of the NPP against the Electoral Commission's declaration of President John Mahama as winner of the December 7 presidential election.

The nine-member court, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, fixed ruling for today, after lawyers for Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, 2012 NPP presidential candidate and the two other petitioners, as well as those for President Mahama had argued against and for NDC's motion for joinder.

Nana Akufo-Addo, his running mate, Dr. Muhammadu Bawumia and Mr. Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, NPP chairman, filed the petition on December 28, 2012, urging the Supreme Court to annul President Mahama's declaration as president-elect, because of alleged irregularities which saw President Mahama's votes allegedly being inflated to the detriment of Nana Akufo-Addo.

The petitioners listed President Mahama and the Electoral Commission as the only respondents. The NDC, on whose platform President Mahama stood, filed a motion for joinder, insisting that it is an interested party. The petitioners opposed the NDC application, hence the hearing last week.

Police presence would be felt inside and outside the court premises, moving as far as to the environs of the Ghana National Lotteries (GNL). No unlawful assemble would also be permitted along the stretch.

Normal vehicular and human movements would go on as usual around the area, but unaccredited persons would not be allowed entry into the court room, as scanning machines are expected to be mounted at the two entry points of the court room, as strict security checks would be enforced.

The enhancement of security presence within the environs of the court is to ensure peace and safety of all persons in the vicinity, as supporters of the two major parties may turn up.

Meanwhile, party supporters would not be allowed within the designated security zone.

The new security arrangements by the Greater Accra Regional Police Command followed the presence of cane-wielding people clad in NDC paraphernalia assembled across the street, opposite the court yard on the Atta Mills High Street, during the last sitting of the court.

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

Legal luminary, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata is leading the NDC legal team praying the court for joinder to the case.

Mr. Tsikata had argued that the NDC as a political party, sponsored a candidate to stand in the Presidential election and their candidate, John Mahama was declared winner of the just ended December 2012 election and therefore it was necessary that they be joined to the suit.

It was the view of counsel that the petitioners were well informed as indicated in their petition that President John Mahama stood in the name of the NDC in the December 2012 Presidential election and won.

He therefore cited the Political Party Act 2000 (Act 274) Section 5 and 6 giving credence to the existence of political parties in elections, noting that as per the Public Regulations Act C.I 75, Regulation 12, President John Mahama stood on the platform of the NDC using the party's name and symbol but never stood as an independent candidate.

Mr. Tsikata noted that the NDC is seeking to join the proceedings in the interest of justice since the President was nominated and selected to stand on the platform of the party.

Counsel was further shocked when the petitioners noted in their claim that the NDC did not take part in the election. "This is blatantly false", Tsikata argued, plunging the court room into absolute silence as he attracted the attention of the bench, the BAR and the court audience.

He also found as logical for the NDC to be joined to the petition as respondent since it was the validity of the position of President Mahama that is being challenged, adding that the petitioners chose to interpret C.I 71 their own meaning.

In opposing the application, Mr. Philip Addison, lead counsel for the petitioners viewed the joinder application as completely without merit and called for its dismissal.

Mr. Addison had argued that application for joinder could not apply to petitions since there are differences of time restrictions applied, noting that the rules under which the application for joinder was brought was wrong as the law does not allow for joinder.

Mr. Addison therefore requested the court to throw out the application since only individuals are mandated by the law to bring petitions and not political parties.

He further noted that the petitioners had not made any allegation or reliefs against the NDC and would therefore be out of place if they are joined to the petition.

It was further the opinion of the petitioners that counsel for the NDC failed to indicate the details of how the party would be affected by the petition filed before the court, stressing that the time required to file petitions was over and, therefore, the NDC could not have a chance of joining the petition.

Copyright © 2013 Ghanaian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.