Letter to Jomo: Sparks fly for two big men on High Street

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

In the mighty Supreme Court of Judicature: Nine wizened, solemn-faced, judicial skulls stir around the table, ready to preside over the most epoch-making legal case in the history of Ghana.

A small sea of partisan political faces, many of them quite familiar to the public, are wearing grim, morose or bland countenances. Black rules the room-dark suits and black legal gowns.

The first few moments appear strained and clumsy, with nothing seeming to happen except for television crews fiddling around with equipment. In the uneasy silence, a thunderous, ayarigarian cough explodes across the court room and the microphones pick it up. Television? Yes, Jomo, the first ever televised Supreme Court hearing in Osagyefo’s good old country on the Atlantic Coast.

The second day of hearing began with NPP Vice-presidential candidate in Election 2012, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia who is one of the petitioners, launching a highly spirited attack on the integrity of the presidential election, detailing very elaborately, what he said were cases of massive infractions of our electoral laws and painting a picture of very widespread, systematic and pervasive rigging in electoral areas across the country.

The petitioner began his testimony rather shakily but soon recovered his composure and launched into an account of how the rigging was executed and how the evidence showed massive cases of over-voting, voting with biometric verification of voter identity, the submission of polling station pink sheets without signatures of presiding officers and duplication of polling station serial numbers.

Lead Council for the petitioners Mr Philip Addison, ritualistically punctuated his submissions with a refrain in the form of a question: Did the witness think the alleged infractions as elaborated in his analyses of the evidence, affected the outcome of the presidential elections?

Sure, sure it did. The witness kept up the responding refrain: The infractions and “statutory violations” led to a fraudulent tilt of the tally in favour of John Mahama with a total of 3,924, 844 votes fraudulently added to Mahama’s tally.

Through it all, Electoral Commissioner Dr. Afari-Gyan, one of the respondents in the dispute, sits in the court room trying to look as calm as calm ever gets, and munching on a generous wad of gum.

The man is grinding gum because he cannot get his hands on his cigarettes in the court room, one chap says.  I wonder why folks crack such sour jokes, Jomo.

Outside the courtroom, spokespersons for the respondents tell journalists Dr Bawumia’s testimony amounted to allegations and not evidence at all. When Bawumia takes the witness stand again to be cross-examined by lawyers for the respondents, they insisted, great sparks will fly and the self-satisfied smiles on faces in the petitioners’ camp wiped out one time!

By the way, Jomo, if up to this point, many have been able to get away with breaking every media law in the book and escape the judicial bogey called Contempt, it is probably because the most sensitive post-election legal case ever in Ghana, is playing out and this has inclined the justices of the Supreme Court to unusual leniency: Many media forum commentators, journalists and lawyers have blatantly pre-judged this case.

When unlawful, extra-judicial trials of a dispute are conducted with impunity and great expectations consequently raised in any quarter regarding the likely outcome, especially among foot soldiers who don’t speak big legal English, that legal victory for their leaders a foregone outcome, violence could erupt when their expectations come crumbling down. Anaa..?

That the hearing of the dispute is televised, will if unwittingly perhaps, hype up our democratic credentials in the international community for all that is worth and now render redundant, any extra-judicial hearing of the case while the substantive one progresses at the Supreme Court.

There is nothing like the process of the law to beat all other avenues for seeking redress to grievances in a democratic, Jomo.

Yet 47 long years after the Central Intelligence Agency otherwise known as The Company, with a little help from disgruntled and totally misguided indigenous collaborators, overthrew the Osagyefo in one of the bloodiest coups the mighty republic has seen, some clowns are in town cracking deadly jokes about overthrowing the government of John Mahama!

During the past bloody political upheavals, but especially the last but one volcanic explosion {boom!}, some folks were either not old enough, are amnesia-stricken, did not come anywhere near the blood and grime, are feeling mischievous, murderous and suicidal all at the same time or are just plain watamcalit…

We gather that the national security establishment has been talking to some chaps who say prevailing socio-economics hardships exemplified in the recent labour strikes, could trigger off a military take-over of Mahama’s months-old administration.

It is pointless crying over spilt milk, Jomo, otherwise I recall commenting that the last thing the president wanted amid the epidemic of mysterious labour strikes, was to be talked, persuaded, blackmailed, cajoled by remote control, threatened, conned or hypnotized into negotiating wages with any labour unions at the presidency.

Do that with one union, I said and every union with a fancy, will be all over you like a hail of ten-ton bricks with demands for a piece of the pie.  That was when news came that representatives of one of the striking teachers unions were on the way to Flagstaff House to discuss ways of getting around the stalemate in their negotiations with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission.

I wonder why they call it that. There is nothing anywhere near a fair wage in this republic but never mind...

The president met the group and appeared to have reached a mutually amicable settlement with the teachers, whereupon,  a union of university lecturers learnt that if you pushed hard enough, you could get the government to pay up emoluments owed you by the state.

Since then the union whose members have not embarked upon a strike, is the exception. What a way to a way for a president to spend the first hundred days in office, Jomo.

I heard folks making what were supposed to be assessments of the president’s first 100  days in office. I found it strange, because the traditional first 100 days in office after the swearing in of a president which is a political tradition in the United States, is also called the honeymoon and for good reasons.

It is so called because during those 100 days, the media and political opponents refrain from attacking  the president and give him some breathing space to get his feet off the ground and agenda off the floor. In the Mahama’s case, it has been a 100-day galloping nightmare. Ask the man himself.

Anyhow, the Supreme Court hearing of the petition disputing the president’s election is in progress and the challenge for non-partisan, civil society groups with peace-building orientation, is to prepare the minds of victors and vanquished to accept the Supreme Court’s ruling without a fuss, when the time tense moment comes and passes.

Article: George Sydney Abugri

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