As the NPP knocks on the doors of the Supreme Court…

Fri, 28 Dec 2012 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The NPP says it is set to meet the constitutional deadline of 21 days to file its case against the Electoral Commission in connection with the 2012 Presidential elections. We hear the suit will be jointly and severally filed tomorrow (Friday, December 28) in the names of Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey (National Chairman of the party), Akufo-Addo (defeated Presidential candidate), and Mahamudu Bawumia (Akufo-Addo’s running mate).

The respondents, we hear, are Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan (the Electoral Commissioner), President John Dramani Mahama (incumbent President of Ghana), and the Electoral Commission (as a corporate body responsible for conducting the elections).

Interesting case afoot, right? We are so much invested in it as to wish the NPP Godspeed to the chambers of the Supreme Court to test the legal waters against its fate.

If the matter goes to court, it will become “subjudice,” and we can’t comment on it anymore without committing contempt of court and be held liable for any comment regarded as prejudicial to it. Thus, while we have the chance to comment on it before it enters the judicial labyrinth, we will do so.

We have already beaten this case to a pulp and are virtually left with little new to say about it; but we can still hazard the guess that it won’t be determined soon because of it is meaty and highly charged, being the first of its kind in our country’s history to have excited so much public interest. As we wait for it to be filed and determined by the Supreme Court, we can only hope that those thumping their chests for a “landslide victory” don’t turn round to do anything to heighten tension. Once the matter is in court, one expects that those aggrieved elements of the NPP will allow the law to run its course and the judges to do their work in peace. However long it may take, the verdict will surely be delivered to tell us what at all it is that this court case can add to our democracy.

I have very serious doubts that anything productive will come out of it to enhance our democratic culture because in one way or the other, if the court agrees with the NPP, many more problems will emerge. For sure, it is to be guessed that the incumbent will not step down, which will worsen the situation. Again, the Electoral Commission may not have the resources to re-run the elections minus the Parliamentary ones as such.

Will it be reasonable for the Supreme Court to isolate only the Presidential elections for re-running? If it does, then, we will have much to contend with. I’ll shelve this aspect for now.

But essentially, our democracy stands to gain very little from a court case of this sort because the matter is already skewed insofar as the substance of the suit doesn’t cover the Parliamentary elections when there is talk of switching of figures there too. Too technical for me to worry my head over. All in all, though, what we can’t miss is the likelihood of this case dragging on for ages, knowing very well how difficult it will be for the Supreme Court to quickly determine it just because the NPP will produce figures that it has collected to fight its claims that the elections were rigged. Determining the case will go beyond the basis of those figures.

Several other issues will be factored into the proceedings that will make the case a painfully protracted one. The Court can’t miss its constitutional responsibility of interpreting the electoral laws to determine what went wrong as the NPP is alleging. In other words, the constitutional provisions are clear on what can cause an election to be invalidated beyond the mere production of figures from anywhere that a litigant may produce. These are very intricate technicalities that mere figures don’t stand up to.

I have already asked questions to the effect that it is difficult to know why of all the contestants and election monitors—not to mention the Electoral Commission and the NPP’s own agents at the various polling stations throughout the country—it is only the NPP leaders who will have access to what they have quickly tagged as “incontrovertible evidence” with which they are going to pester the Supreme Court to overturn the will of the voters that didn’t favour Akufo-Addo.

Again, the Court can’t determine this case without reference to the reports of the Electoral Commission itself and the various local and international election monitors who saw what happened and concluded that the elections were free, fair, and transparent, not only in the atmosphere surrounding the balloting but also in the tabulation and release of the results.

This is where the CODEO and the ECOWAS Election Monitoring Group will come in. I don’t think that the Supreme Court will be so naïve as not to broaden the case to go beyond the NPP’s claim of “incontrovertible evidence.”

Submissions will be made by others to suggest that the 2012 Elections passed the test and that the NPP’s figures don’t reflect reality. Is the NPP ready for the fallout? Or does it already have a Plan “C” ready to implement? So far, it has implemented two of such plans:

Plan “A”—street demonstrations to cause mayhem in Accra, Kumasi, and elsewhere that have led to physical assaults on political opponents and the maiming and murder of some.

Plan “B”—gathering whatever evidence it might lay hands on to proceed to the Supreme Court to fight its case while using the mass media and the bar of public opinion to judge itself as the likely victor in the court case. All this is part of the psychological warfare that it has launched against its political opponent, hoping that by so doing, it would condition its followers’ minds for anything else that might be put into action after the court case. At this stage, I may be speculating as a way of reading deeper meanings into possibilities, but I am quite sure that the NPP will not end matters at the premises of the Supreme Court. Otherwise, it won’t precede the filing of that case with a press conference tomorrow at the Alisa Hotel in Accra. We don’t yet know what will be said at that press conference but we can’t rule out any over-extension of this agenda of protestation.

Having already stood firm against all odds to fight the case at court, the NPP leaders have an onerous duty to sustain the rhythm and continue massaging their supporters’ feeling until the case is dealt with. That’s a tall order.

Meantime, life will not grind to a standstill in the country. The incumbent will continue to function and prepare for January 7, 2013 to be installed in office. The installation will complicate the matter for the NPP and strengthen the administration’s hands on the management of national affairs to such an extent that it could be more than ready to pit itself against the Supreme Court if its verdict is skewed in favour of the NPP.

We will definitely have more constitutional problems to handle at this stage than the NPP’s suit might initially be conceived to solve. I can’t wait for that moment to see how Ghanaians will handle the situation. In effect, if the Supreme Court favours Akufo-Addo, many new developments will make the country ungovernable. The majority that voted for the President will definitely react vigorously in ways that are too frightening to imagine now. In effect, a huge fire will be lit by any such decision.

Will the Court declare Akufo-Addo elected because he would have been deemed to have garnered 50%+1 votes in the court’s estimation? Or that the EC should re-run the Presidential elections for all the candidates? Or that President Mahama should just step down for Akufo-Addo to take his place? Undeniablly, with what majority support in Parliament or even in the 8 regions that voted against him? The country will definitely become ungovernable in that event. I don’t think that’s what anybody wants.

Once again, we wish the NPP Godspeed to the chambers of the Supreme Court. We shall all gear up to follow events as they unfold by the second. We are on the quivive already. Bring it on, guys!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.