Supreme Court throws out Mahama’s unmeritorious petition

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Chief Justice Anin Yeboah

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the presidential election petition brought before it by the 2020 presidential candidate of the opposition NDC, John Dramani Mahama.

Mr Mahama was challenging the declaration of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo by the Electoral Commission as the winner in the December 7, 2020 general election.

The seven-member panel, presided over by Chief Justice Anin Yeboah, dismissed the petition as lacking merit.

Verdict

In a unanimous decision, the court indicated that to the extent that a citizen feels that some statutes in Ghana have been breached means that he or she must be heard to allow the person to prove his or her claims. To this end, the court declared that a reasonable cause of action arises as far as the instant petition is concerned.

Delivering the judgment on behalf of the seven-member panel, Chief Justice Anin Yeboah said the petitioner and his witnesses did not provide any evidence to convince the court that the errors made by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Jean Mensa, affected the 2020 election results in any way to prove that President Akufo-Addo did not meet the threshold in Article 63(3) of the 1992 constitution.

The court further averred that it was wrong to hold on to the error made by the EC Chairperson against the Commission, as the error was subsequently corrected.

“We conclude this judgement by emphasizing that the petitioner did not demonstrate in any way how the alleged errors and the unilateral corrections by the 1st respondent affected the validity of the declaration made by the Chairperson of the 1st respondent on the 9th December 2020 as already stated in this judgement.

“The petition is hereby dismissed as lacking merit,” the Chief Justice said.

Reliefs sought

Mr Mahama sought six reliefs from the court, including “a declaration that Mrs. Jean Adukwei Mensa, Chairperson of 1st Respondent and the Returning Officer for the Presidential Elections held on 7th December 2020, was in breach of Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution in the declaration she made on 9th December 2020 in respect of the Presidential Election that was held on 7th December 2020; based on the data contained in the declaration made by Mrs. Jean Adukwei Mensa, Chairperson of 1st Respondent and the Returning Officer for the Presidential Elections held on 7th December 2020, no candidate satisfied the requirement of Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution to be declared ‘President-elect; and a declaration that the purported declaration made on 9th December 2020 ‘of the results of the Presidential Election by Mrs. Jean Adukwei Mensa, Chairperson of Respondent and the Returning Officer for the Presidential Elections held on 7th December 2020 is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

Other reliefs sought were “an order annulling the Declaration of President-Elect Instrument, 2020 (C.I. 135) dated 9th December 2020, issued under the hand of Mrs. Jean Adukwei Mensa, Chairperson of 1st Respondent and the Returning Officer for the Presidential Elections held 7th December 2020 and gazetted on 10th December, 2020”; “…an order of injunction restraining the 2nd Respondent (President Akufo-Addo) from holding himself out as President-elect”; and “an order of mandatory injunction directing the 1st Respondent to proceed to conduct a second election with Petitioner and 2nd Respondent as the candidates as required under Articles 63(4) and (5) of the 1992 Constitution”.

 

Issues

The court, during the case management stage, set down five main issues to determine, including “Whether or not the petition discloses any cause of action”; “whether or not the Second Respondent (Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo) met the Article 63 (3) threshold of the 1992 Constitution; and “whether or not the 2nd Respondent (Nana Akufo-Addo) still met the Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution threshold by the exclusion or inclusion of the Techiman South Constituency presidential election results”.

The other issues were “whether or not the declaration by the First Respondent (EC) on December 9 of the presidential election conducted on December 7 was in violation of Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution; and Whether or not the alleged vote padding and other errors complained of by the petitioner affected the outcome of the presidential election results of 2020”.

 

Response

The two respondents described the petition as incompetent, on the basis that it raised no cause of action, arguing that the petitioner had not properly invoked the jurisdiction of the apex court to adjudicate on the presidential election petition, as stipulated under Article 64 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.

According to them, any person who goes to the apex court under Article 64 (1) of the 1992 Constitution must attack the validity of the election.

They also argued that the petition failed to make any allegation of infractions in the actual voting that took place in the 38,622 polling stations and 311 special voting centres.

The respondents also said former President Mahama’s petition was frivolous because the figures he was using to make a case clearly made President Akufo-Addo the winner of the 2020 presidential poll.

The EC admitted that Mrs Mensa inadvertently read the figure representing the total number of votes cast as the one representing the total number of valid votes cast, and also gave the percentage of the votes garnered by President Akufo-Addo as 51.59 per cent, instead of 51.295.

It, however, averred that the EC corrected the errors on December 10 and “the corrections and clarifications did not affect the overall results as declared”.

The EC, therefore, argued that former President Mahama’s “deliberate” reliance on the figures declared on December 9, 2020 is “misleading, untenable and misconceived.”

Other members of the panel were Justices Yaw Appaw, Samuel Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher, Professor Nii Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu and Gertrude Torkonoo,

 

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