Lead Counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the just-ended election petition, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, has accused Justice Anin Yeboah, one of the nine Supreme Court Justices that heard the matter, of allowing his political affiliations to cloud his judgement.
Mr Tsikata said Justice Anin Yeboah, from the onset consistently took an opposing stance against the NDC’s arguments and position as far as the case was concerned.
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But the General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, has hit hard at Mr Tsikata, describing his attacks as being without basis and clearly calculated by him and the NDC to dent the image of the judiciary.
“The consistent attacks on the third arm of government by functionaries and surrogates of the NDC must cease. It is not helpful for our democratic dispensation to always tag a judge as belonging to one political party or another. It must stop,” Mr Owusu Afriyie added.
According to Mr Tsikata, he was not surprised by Justice Anin Yeboah’s persistent and consistent opposition to the stance of the NDC because he was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President John Agyekum Kufuor of the NPP.
Mr Tsikata expressed his concerns when he spoke on TV3’s Hot Issues, a discussion programme on Saturday, August 31, 2013.
Asked by the host, Mr Kwesi Pratt Jnr., if he was surprised that three of the nine Judges consistently voted against the respondents in three of the six pleadings of the petitioners on Thursday, August 29, 2013, Mr Tsikata said: “I’ll tell you very frankly that it didn’t surprise me that Justice Anin Yeboah was consistently in that group”.
“I mean he has been consistently against even the NDC being joined as a party and consistently in court, I mean, it was quite clear that he was taking positions against everything that was put forward from our side, I mean, there was a very consistent way,” Mr Tsikata observed.
He noted that: “…Again I think that we all understand the judiciary is made up of human beings. They have their own political ambitions and in his [Justice Anin Yeboah’s] case, he was appointed as a judge by President Kufuor. He probably still has a certain loyalty to the cause of Mr Kufuor.”
Responding to a question about whether a judge’s political affiliation should matter when taking decisions on issues before the court, Mr Tsikata said: “It should not but I’m giving you a frank example in a situation where it seems to me like somebody like that [Justice Anim-Yeboah] really did not take up what I will call a truly balanced judicial posture in relation to the matters that were before him and I say that very frankly, but I believe that, that is an observation that one can make and we do recognise as lawyers and as law teachers particularly, the ways in which sometimes decisions are affected by some of these personal prejudices and positions”.
Adducing further anecdotal evidence to support his allegations against Justice Anin Yeboah, Mr Tsikata recalled that: “I gave you an example in relation to my own case. Again Justice Anim-Yeboah, he sat in the Court of Appeal. He gave a decision. It’s in the reports - you can go and read it – in which, you know, against the position that I had taken that the IFC, (International Finance Corporation) – is not immune from the jurisdiction of the Courts of Ghana. He gave a decision asserting an immunity and in asserting it, all he relied on was the statement of the immunity of the International Monetary Fund, a different organisation".
"I mean it’s in black and white. He read, you know, an article from a statute which is about the International Monetary Fund and he read it to apply to International Finance Corporation. I mean you don’t do that but he did, in my case, and again in that case, there was no doubt in my mind about his political convictions being the driver of the decision,” Mr Tsikata noted.
He said: “…I think we need to uncover them in order to correct them also, because judges should not, indeed, let political partisanship be the determinant of positions they take”.
But Mr Owusu-Afriyie, also known as Sir John, said there were numerous instances during the trial when an 8-1 ruling was given by the court in certain matters and never was there an instance where Justice Anin Yeboah was the only dissenting judge in such a situation.
He noted further that four of the judges did not find anything wrong with the irregularities highlighted as having occurred in the December 2012 election, and yet neither the NPP nor its lawyers had come out to attack those judges.
“If going by Tsatsu Tsikata’s logic, Justice Anin Yeboah was appointed by Kufuor and as such owes his loyalty to NPP, then what do we say about the four judges who decided that no irregularity occurred in the 2012 elections to warrant a nullification of the tainted votes?” Sir John asked.
“Again, if I’m to go by Tsatsu’s logic, did Justices Atuguba, Gbadegbe and Akoto Bamfo, who decided that no infraction took place in the December 2012 election and that the petition was without merit, do so because they were all appointed by the NDC under President Rawlings and President Mills?”
Sir John further said that if Justice Anin Yeboah were truly biased in favour of the petitioners, he would have upheld and not dismissed the petitioners’ claims on duplicate serial numbers, unknown polling stations and polling stations with the same codes.
He said if Mr Tsikata were a very brave man, he should have made his comments during the trial and not wait for the case to end before attacking Justice Anin Yeboah.
He admonished the NDC to call its “hawks” to order as their continued attacks on the judiciary were not helpful.
By Mark-Anthony Vinorkor/Daily Graphic/Ghana