Mr. Rockson Nelson Deafeamekpor, a member of the Legal Team of the opposition National Democratic Congress(NDC) , last week intimated to sections of Ghanaian media ( Multimedia’s Flagship program, NEWSFILE and the Ghana News Agency-GNA) that the party(NDC) was ready to legally challenge the 2020 Presidential Election Declaration effected/announced by Ghana’s Election Management Body(The Electoral Commission) on 9th December, 2020.
That decision has been welcomed by large sections of the Ghanaian and International Community as the right and most effective course of action to pursue in curing whatever mischief the NDC and its losing Presidential Flagbearer, former President John Dramani Mahama, perceive as having gone wrong with the determination of the outcome of the 7th. December, 2020 Presidential Election by the Electoral Commission.
Mr. Deafeamkpor indicated that the party’s Legal Challenge will be initiated on Wednesday, 30th. December, 2020, the last day of the mandated 21 days provided under the country’s electoral laws for aggrieved parties to mount a Legal Challenge relative to Presidential Election Disputes.
The Presidential Candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress(NDC) and the leadership of the latter can and must be praised for opting to activate Article 64(1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana the same way Candidate Akufo-Addo, his running mate, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia and the late Jake Obestebi-Lamptey, then the National Chairman of New Patriotic Party (NPP) did in the wake of the Declaration of the outcome of Election 2012!
Their chosen path of action, whatever the outcome, could only be beneficial to the deepening of Ghana’s Democratic Consolidation Process as the 2013 Presidential Election Litigation did to our fortunes as an emergent and growing democracy.
Of course, there have been some amendments and modifications to the rules of engagement and procedures relative to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in Presidential Election Disputes. The amendments are reflected in the Supreme Court (Amendment) (No.2) Rules, 2016 (C.I. 99) which was gazetted on 12th. October, 2016 and came into force on 5th January, 2017.
Interestingly, Rule 4 of C. I. 99 has introduced a new Rule 69BA which effectively prohibits joinder or intervener of a person not stated in the Presidential Election Petition as a petitioner or respondent. What this means is that we shall not have a repetition of the 2013 situation where the NDC applied to join the action/litigation even though it wasn’t initially included in the list of respondents.
As indicated in the Fourth Edition of the “MANUAL ON ELECTION ADJUDICATION IN GHANA” authored and produced by the Judicial Service of Ghana: “The question of a joinder as a party to a Presidential Election Petition came up for consideration in the case of in re Presidential Election Petition; Akufo-Addo and Others (No. 4 ) v Mahama and Others (No. 4 ) [2013 ] SCGLR (Special Edition ) 73 in which the Supreme Court joined the National Democratic Congress to the suit as 3rd. Defendant. Dr. S. Y. Bimpong-Buta,the learned Editor of the Supreme Court of Ghana Law Reports in his editorial comment in the  SCGLR (Special Edition) expressed the view that the framers of the Constitution did not envisage joinder of a party in a Presidential Election Petition and therefore proposed statutory intervention. The Supreme Court (Amendment) (No. 2) Rules, 2016 (C. I. 99) was subsequently passed to preclude joinder and intervener in a Presidential Election Petition”.
Article 64(1) of the Constitution provides that “the validity of the election of the President may be challenged only by a citizen of Ghana who may present a petition for the purpose to the Supreme Court within twenty-one days after the declaration of the result of the election in respect of which the petition is presented”.
The authors of the Fourth Edition of the Manual under reference, after highlighting the purpose of Article 64(1) , in my candid opinion, proceeded to pose a question of far reaching implications and constitutional significance.
” The question is : can the petition be brought by more than one Ghanaian citizen? “
Their answer was to the effect that: ” The validity of the election of the President may be challenged only by a citizen of Ghana who may present a petition for the purpose to the Supreme Court” ENVISAGES THAT A PETITION, CHALLENGING THE VALIDITY OF THE ELECTION OF THE PRESIDENT, MAY BE COMMENCED BY THE PERSON WHO HAD BEEN DECLARED BY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION AS THE LOSING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. IN OTHER WORDS, THE ELECTION MAY BE CHALLENGED ONLY BY THE PERSON WHO ALLEGES THAT HE WAS THE WINNER AT THE ELECTION”(All caps- mine).
Against this backdrop, one can safely anticipate that the LOSING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE as declared by the Electoral Commission of Ghana on 9th. December, 2020, former President John Dramani Mahama will file the petition in his name and on his own behalf, come Wednesday, 30th December, 2020 as envisaged by the authors of the Fourth Manual on ELECTION ADJUDICATION published in November 2020. As a non-learned, “Street Lawyer” , I stand to be corrected.
Backed by a formidable array of some of the country’s best legal brains and “experienced election practitioners” such as Asiedu Nketia and Samuel Ofusu-Ampofo among others, there can be no doubt that the former President, losing Candidate, John Mahama would be ready for the inevitable “fireworks” in the Apex Court of the Land from 30th December, 2020 until the 42nd day post filing of his lawful petition!
For the records: The Committee set up by the Chief Justice, His Lordship, Justice Anin Yeboah, on 20th. February , 2020 to review the 2016(Third Edition) of the Manual on Election Adjudication comprised the following:
*(1). His Lordship Victor Jones Mawulom Dotse-Chairman
*(2). His Lordship Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Justice of the Supreme Court-Member
*(3). His Lordship Nasiru Sulley Gbadegbe, Justice of the Supreme Court- Member
*(4). His Lordship Samuel Marful-Sau, Justice of the Supreme Court-Member
*(5). His Lordship Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, Justice of the Supreme Court-Member
*(6). His Lordship Tanko Amadu, Justice of the Supreme Court-Member
*(7). His Lordship Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi, Justice of the Supreme Court
*(8). His Lordship Sir Dennis Adjei, Justice of the Court of Appeal-Member
*(9). His Lordship Samuel Boakye-Yiadom, 2nd Deputy Judicial Secretary-Member
*(10). Mrs. Gifty Yeboah Preko Nyarko, Deputy Director, Judicial Reforms and Projects
**PS: The Fourth Edition of the Manual just like the previous versions( First(2008); Second(2012) and the Third(2016) are a MUST READ and recommended to all stakeholders in elections , “to wit Judges, Lawyers, Election Administrators, Politicians, Students, the Media and the Ghanaian public”!
Written by Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, Editor-In-Chief of The New Crusading Guide Newspaper