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Supreme Court corrects error in election petition judgment

BY: Arku Jasmine

Justice William Atuguba

Votes played a key role in deciding the fate of President John Dramani Mahama during the elections in December 2012 and the final judgement on the “pink sheet war”.
The petitioners had complained of electoral irregularities at 10,199 polling stations, called for the cancellation of 3,931,339 votes and the subsequent declaration of the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as President.

However, the Supreme Court, in dismissing the petitioners’ case and affirming President Mahama as the validly elected President, committed a clerical error in the vote pattern.

The error has since been corrected.

The error and correction have not gone down well with the petitioners’ legal team, but the legal and communications team of President Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) does not see anything wrong with the court correcting itself.

Justice Baffoe-Bonnie upheld claims of voting without biometric verification

In its judgement on August 29, 2013, the president of the nine-member panel of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice William A. Atuguba, said Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie had voted for and against the allegation of some persons voting without undergoing biometric verification.

However, the corrected certified true copy of the court’s order issued in Accra yesterday specified that Mr Justice Baffoe-Bonnie had actually upheld the petitioners’ claim of persons voting without undergoing biometric verification, called for the cancellation of results and ordered a re-run of elections in the affected areas.

Reaction of parties to the correction in the final court order

Reacting to the correction in the court’s final order, one of the lawyers for the petitioners, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, said the correction, which was effected after parties in the case had received certified true copies of the judgement, was irregular.

He, however, stated that as lawyers for the petitioners, the matter had ended because Nana Akufo-Addo had decided not to apply for a review.

A member of the legal and communications team of President Mahama and the NDC, Mr Victor K. Adawudu, said the correction of the final order was effected by the court and not at the registry.

“The correction is legal and binding. The court has power to amend clerical errors,” he stated, adding, “It has no effect on the entire outcome of the judgement.”

Shuffling of Votes

The voting pattern at the Supreme Court on Thursday was quite intriguing.

This was so because aside from the nine justices unanimously dismissing the allegations of duplicate serial numbers, duplicate polling station codes and voting taking place at 22 unknown polling stations, four dismissed the entire claims of the petitioners, while three stood at one side to uphold the other claims of the petitioners.

Justices Atuguba, Sophia Adinyira, N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Vida Akoto-Bamfo stood together throughout the voting and dismissed all the claims of the petitioners, who had prayed the court to declare Nana Akufo-Addo President after votes in the affected areas had been annulled.

On the other hand, Justices Julius Ansah, Rose Constance Owusu and Anin Yeboah granted the claims of over-voting, voting without biometric verification and absence of signatures of presiding officers on the pink sheets (statement of poll and declaration of results form for the office of president).

The Switches

Mr Justice Baffoe-Bonnie added his vote to those of Justices Atuguba, Adinyira, Gbadegbe and Akoto-Bamfo to dismiss the claim of over-voting.

He again joined Justices Atuguba, Adinyira, Gbadegbe and Akoto-Bamfo to dismiss the claim relating to absence of signature of presiding officers on pink sheets.

Dismissal of claim of voting without biometric verification

Mr Justice Dotse voted alongside Justices Atuguba, Adinyira, Gbadegbe and Akoto-Bamfo to throw out the allegation relating to voting without biometric verification.

Singular votes

Mr Justice Dotse upheld claims of over-voting and absence of signatures and provided a road map in his judgement as in the figures of votes to be ascertained.

He also called for cancellation and a re-run of the election in the areas affected.

Baffoe-Bonnie upholds claims of voting without biometric verification

According to the certified true copy of the court’s judgement, Mr Justice Baffoe-Bonnie granted the claim of voting without biometric verification, called for the cancellation of the votes involved and ordered a re-run of the election in the areas affected.

Overall effect of the judgement

The overall effect of the judgement was that President Mahama was validly elected and the petition was accordingly dismissed.

A full copy of the certified true copy of the judgement is not ready.

By Mabel Aku Baneseh/Daily Graphic/Ghana

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