By Our Reporter
The Seven(7)-member Justices of the Supreme Court panel presided over Chief Justice Anin Yeboah, has dismissed the election 2020 petition filed by the presidential candidate of National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama (Petitioner), describing it as lacking merit.
In a unanimous decision, Chief Justice Anin Yeboah, Justices Yaw Appaw, Samuel Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher, Professor Nii Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu and Gertrude Torkonoo, stated that the Petitioner(John Mahama) and his witnesses did not provide any evidence to convince them 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.
By extension, there is no prove that the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Jean Mensa, breached the 1992 constitution when she declared President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President Elect in her declaration of 9th December 2020.
“The petition is hereby dismissed as lacking merit” the Chief Justice and President of the seven-member panel stated.
Recall that Mr. Mahama on the 30th of December 2020, twenty-one days after the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Jean Mensa, declared President Akufo-Addo, the winner of the 7th December 2020 presidential elections, filed a petition at the Supreme Court.
Petitioner’s Reliefs Sought
In the petition, Mr. Mahama sought six (6) reliefs. The first was “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”.
Secondly, the petitioner asked the Supreme Court to declare that, “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’”.
The third was “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”.
The remaining three (3) 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 lastly, “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 Set Down by Supreme Court
The Supreme during the case management stage of the petition set down five (5) main issues that will engage its attention in adjudicating Mr. Mahama’s petition. The issues were: “Whether or not the petition discloses any cause of action”. Secondly, “whether or not the Second Respondent [Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo] met the Article 63 (3) threshold of the 1992 Constitution.
Thirdly, “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”.
Fourthly, “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 lastly, “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”.
Closing Address of EC
In his closing address after the trial, lead Counsel for the Electoral Commission (1st Respondent), Justin Amenuvor, argued, “My Lords, the 7th December 2020 elections have been the most credible since the inception of the 4th Republic. Both domestic and international observers have attested to the credibility, transparency and integrity of the 2020 Elections.”
He further stated in his address to the court, “Through the bi-weekly ‘Let the Citizens Know’ platform, the 1st Respondent provided the citizenry with regular relevant updates and information on all aspects of its work thereby demystifying the Commission and removing the cloaks that had hitherto shrouded its operations. Today citizens are not only provided with daily updates on voter statistics but they also have the constituency and regional results of the elections on the website of the 1st Respondent. This is the first time this has happened.”
“Recognizing that the bedrock of a credible and acceptable election is an accurate voter register, the 1st Respondent undertook a thorough and comprehensive voters’ registration exercise and succeeded in capturing over 17 million eligible Ghanaian voters. This feat was achieved over a 38-day period during the COVID-19 pandemic environment”.
“It is important to note that despite the apprehension by sections of the society about the possible spread of the virus, the stringent measures put in place by the 1st Respondent curbed the spread of the virus and the registration went on successfully. Today Ghana can boast of a Voters’ Register that reflects eligible Ghanaians only. It is important to note that the 1st Respondent used less than 6 months from the date of the registration to the Election. Despite the short duration of the exercise there has been no reports of disenfranchisement”.
“The elections have been hailed as highly successful and credible and by far been the most smooth and efficient election in Ghana’s history. Indeed, a broad section of the society have attested to the fact that the voting process lasted no more than 5 minutes resulting in the absence of queues in polling stations that characterized previous elections”.
“Policies put in by the 1st Respondent including reducing the number of voters per polling stations, increasing the number of polling stations across the country and deploying robust and efficient equipment contributed to this”.
“Another significant achievement was the time within which the Presidential Election Results was declared. The declaration was the earliest in the history of the country coming some 48 hours after the close of the polls, thereby reducing the tensions and suspicions that accompanied previous elections”.
“As part of the 1st Respondent’s efforts to strengthen its electoral processes and build a further layer of accountability and scrutiny in its work, the 1st Respondent in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Department and the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of the Parliament of Ghana developed a CI (C1127) to govern the conduct of elections”.
“CI 127 introduced the Regional Collation Centres which provide an avenue for the involvement and participation of candidates’ Agents in the collation of the presidential election results at the Regional Collation Centres. This is a departure from the past where 275 constituency collation results were faxed directly to the Returning Officer at the National Collation Centre. Today the Returning Officer receives at the NCC only 16 regional results comprising all the constituencies in each Region. This is a major improvement and a tidier and more efficient results collation process”.
“It is unfortunate that an innocuous error made by the Chairperson of the 1st Respondent in the declaration of the results on 9th December 2020, which had no bearing on the outcome of the election results has triggered this petition”.
“My Lords, this case has been a strange one. The Petitioner has led no evidence whatsoever to challenge the election results and for that matter the declaration made by the 1st Respondent on 9th December 2020. At some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has been reached. The 1st Respondent prays for a dismissal of the petition”.
Final Arguments of President Akufo-Addo
Lawyer for the 2nd Respondent, Akoto Ampaw on the other hand in his closing address to court noted, “It is important to remind ourselves of the reliefs for which petitioner is in this honourable court; make a final comment on each of them and then invite the court to dismiss each of them…”
Lawyer Akoto Ampaw, having read out the reliefs further argued, “Contrary to the above relief, the admitted facts in the pleadings and the evidence of the witnesses of petitioner demonstrated in the foregoing clearly show that, the data as contained in the declaration of 1st Respondent which was based on the summation of the regional collation forms in the possession of the petitioner and attached as exhibits by him and his witnesses, confirm that 2nd Respondent obtained over 51% of the total number of valid votes cast in the 2020 election and thus far exceeds the threshold of more than 50% of the total number of valid votes cast as dictated by article 63(3) of the Constitution, 1992”.
On the third relief, Lawyers of the 2nd Respondent again indicated, “Contrary to the terms of the above relief, the declaration by the Chairperson of 1st Respondent was in accordance with relevant provisions of the Constitution 1992, same was thus lawfully made and therefore not unconstitutional or unlawful nor is it null and void”.
The fourth relief, the 2nd Respondent posited, “My Lords, since, as clearly shown in this submission and reflected in the proceedings before the court, the declaration of President-Elect Instrument, 2020 (C.I. 135) dated 9th December 2020 was duly issued and executed in accordance with all the applicable laws and the uncontroverted data derived from the presidential election of 2020 respectfully, same ought to not be annulled by the court. We, therefore, pray your Lordships to affirm the propriety of the said C.I. 135”.
On relief five, Lawyer Ampaw said, “Respectfully, the above relief has no basis in law owing to the express provisions of Article 64(2) of the Constitution, 1992.”
On the last relief sought by the Petitioner, the lawyer of the 2nd Respondent stated, “It is our respectful submission that from the above analysis, the presidential election of 2020 having been duly conducted in accordance with the relevant laws and 2nd respondent having been duly declared to have been elected as President and the witnesses of the petitioner not having been able to aver facts and adduce credible evidence to discharge the heavy burden Page 98 of 102 imposed by law on him, we firmly hold that there is no basis for the court to countenance the relief above”.
“We therefore pray Your Lordships to dismiss the petition in its entirety,” Lawyer Akoto Ampaw indicated at the end of his closing address.