Ghana media highlight proceedings at Supreme Court on election petition - Ghana’s media this week focused on proceedings at the Supreme Court where the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is challenging the election of President John Dramani Mahama last December.
President Mahama, who became the candidate of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in July, 2012, after the sudden death of President John Evans Atta Mills, emerged winner with 50.70 per cent of the votes cast in the first round, winning the majority of votes in eight of the 10 regions.
But the opposition NPP has challenged the results, claiming widespread constitutional and statutory violations and irregularities. It is asking the Supreme Court to nullify some 4.6 million of the 10.995 million votes cast and declare its candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, winner.
This week’s court proceedings focused on the date for judgement and the summoning of the General Secretary of the NPP, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, alias “Sir John”, and a member of the party’s communication team, Hopeson Adorye, to the court for intentional criminal contempt.
“Sir John, Adorye's day in court,” was the headline of the state-owned Graphic on Wednesday.
The Graphic said the summons, jointly signed by Justice William Atuguba, President of the nine-member panel, and the Registrar of the Supreme Court, James Mensah, asked the two NPP officers to show why they “should not be committed to prison for contempt of this court, for scandalising the court, lowering the authority and credibility of this court in the eyes of the general public and exciting hatred and ill-will towards the first and second respondents herein (President Mahama and Electoral Commission respectively)”.
“Sir John”, a lawyer, is alleged to have accused the Bench of being biased while Adorye is alleged to have stated that the heads of members of the NDC would be chopped off if President Mahama was declared the winner of the presidential petition.
The state-owned Ghanaian Times in its story said the two were summoned to show cause why they should not be committed to prison for being guilty of criminal contempt of the court.
“Party supporters pray for God's intervention,” was another story in the Ghanaian Times which said the women's wing of the NPP held special prayers at the party's headquarters in Accra and in Kumasi, the party's stronghold.
The women clad in party colours and other dresses, sang and prayed for God to touch the hearts of the nine-member panel to show mercy to the two NPP members.
As it turned out, the two men were found guilty and convicted but were fined instead of being thrown into prison following their apology and pleas by their counsel, Ayikwei Otoo.
“Sir John, Adorye convicted,” was the headline of the Graphic which quoted the NPP general secretary as saying he was “humbled by this baptism of fire' before the Supreme Court convicted him.
The newspaper said a humble-looking and remorseful Owusu Afriyie stood meekly, with both hands clutched at his back, when the court convicted him and sentenced him to a fine of 5,000 Ghana cedis. (US$1.00=2.00 Ghana cedis) or in default serve six months in prison.
Adorye was convicted of criminal contempt for a similar offence and fined 2,000 Ghana cedis or in default faces three months’ imprisonment.
Described as a layman by the Bench, Adorye was also bonded to be of good behaviour for three months or in default face three months’ imprisonment.
The newspaper said Mr. Justice Atuguba took a swipe at politicians and persons who had made it a point to run down the institutions of state by their unguarded actions and statements.
Wondering if the state should become “anaemic” because of persons such as “Sir John”, Mr. Justice Atuguba said it was unfortunate for a few politicians who had passports, visas and the opportunity to bolt in the event of a civil strife to endanger the lives of 24 million Ghanaians through their irresponsible acts.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, he assured Ghanaians that the Judiciary would not sit down for their interests and safety to be taken for a ride by a few reckless individuals who did not have the interest of the state at heart.
He asked why people should die for a few negligent politicians who had grown horns and whose actions were purely aimed at running down the state and misleading everybody.
“Judgement on Aug. 29,” was the headline of the Graphic on the date fixed by the court after “eight months of a long drawn-out legal clash to justify the removal or retention of Mr. John Dramani Mahama as the President of the Republic of Ghana”.
It said after the Supreme Court had disposed of more than 20 interlocutory applications, gathered evidence for four months, as well as received 344 pages of written addresses from lawyers in the petition, it has finally fixed August 29, 2013 as the date for judgement.
The Graphic on Friday carried a story under the headline “NDC, NPP commit to peace,” in which it reported that the two major political parties had pledged their commitment to peace during and after judgement on the presidential election petition had been given.
The chairpersons of the NDC and NPP, Dr. Kwabena Adjei and Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, respectively, made the strong declaration after their first-ever closed-door meeting with the National Security Coordinator, retired Lt.-Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, in Accra on Thursday.
It said the meeting was called to discuss ways of ensuring peace and tranquility after the 29 August verdict.
Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey told journalists, “God loves Ghana and He will continue to give us the opportunity to lift our country.”
He said people in charge of security had recognised the collective roles everyone, particularly the political parties, had played and continued to play in ensuring a peaceful atmosphere in the country.
“Gbevlo summons NDC, NPP leaders,” was the headline of the Ghanaian Times, which reported that the hierarchy of the two leading political parties embroiled in the pending presidential election petition at the Supreme Court had pledged to restrain their supporters from fomenting trouble after the verdict.
It said the meeting focused on how to curb trouble at potential flash points and the parties’ collaboration with the security agencies on some envisaged challenges.
Dr. Adjei described the meeting as appropriate, stressing it was critical for the leadership of the parties to support the sustenance of peace.