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We challenged 2020 presidential elections to test NDC's legal right - Mahama

BY: Political Desk Report
We challenged 2020 presidential elections in court to test legal right of NDC - Mahama
We challenged 2020 presidential elections in court to test legal right of NDC - Mahama
  • “The atmosphere was quite charged, a few of our people took to the streets". - Mahama has said.
  • There was a threat of violence and we didn’t want to go down that path, so it was better to use what the Constitution has given us.”

Former President John Dramani Mahama has stated that he filed the 2020 presidential election petition at the Supreme Court to calm the charged political atmosphere to avoid electoral violence.

The petition, he said, was also to test the legal right of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

“The atmosphere was quite charged, a few of our people took to the streets. There was a threat of violence and we didn’t want to go down that path, so it was better to use what the Constitution has given us.

“Once we filed the suit, I noticed that it calmed everybody and of course we went and got 7:0 on every issue that we raised,” he stated.

Mr Mahama stated this while addressing the United States Chapter of the NDC at Bentley University on Sunday [March 27, 2022].

Anomalies

Touching on the conduct of the 2020 elections, Mr Mahama said a number of anomalies occurred in the elections which affected the results.

That, he said, resulted in anger among supporters of the NDC.

“We have all done elections before and at the printing press, all the political parties are supposed to send agents to the printing press. We sit there from the time they start printing until we finish.

“When they finish, we all tally how many ballots they were asked to print. We all look at the numbers and everything and if we are satisfied, then all the agents sign a certificate of completion to say that we are satisfied, that it tallies with the number you were asked to print,” he said.

Mr Mahama said that was what happened at the printing press and all the agents left after the printing of the ballot papers.

Extra ballot papers

However, he said one of the NDC’s agents had to go back for his laptop bag, only for him to see "millions" of ballot papers being printed.

“When he asked why they were printing extra ballot papers, they said the EC had asked them to print. Out of frustration, they said they were doing that in case there was a second round. But seven people will not go for second round. Ballot papers for a second round is only for two people, the top two. No proper explanation on why those ballot papers were printed was given. Click to Tweet

“Some of the people were seen later carrying ballot papers and we reported them to the police. Up till date, nobody has been charged or prosecuted for carrying those extra ballot papers,” he stated.

“These are the things that happened in the elections and so we thought the elections weren’t free and fair and so we went to the Supreme Court. One, to test our legal right and then second, to also calm the atmosphere,” he added.

Mr Mahama said he, therefore, decided to rely on the provisions of the 1992 Constitution by going to the apex court to resolve the matter.

The seven-member panel of the Supreme Court, by a unanimous decision, dismissed the petition on March 4, 2021, on the grounds that it lacked merit, Mr Mahama said.

Read also: Why the Supreme Court dismissed Mahama's 2020 presidential election petition (FULL JUDGMENT)

Judicial reforms

Mr Mahama alleged that the country’s judicial system was being manipulated by political powers and, therefore, called for judicial reforms.

He stated that the NDC party had a problem with the Judiciary, hence the need for urgent judicial reforms.

“We do have problems with the Judiciary, I must say. I think that it is necessary for some internal reforms to take place there. It is necessary for the Chief Justice or whoever is responsible to make some reforms.

“Most of the governance institutions have been politicised. I give the example of the Judiciary. It is only in Ghana that a Supreme Court will make a decision that a birth certificate is not proof of citizenship,” he said.

“There are many such funny judgements that have been given. I remember at one time, our colleague Professor Raymond Atuguba said that from research he had done, judges tended to give their judgements in favour of the political party or leader that appointed them.

According to him, Prof. Atuguba was subjected to a whirlwind of indignation by the Judiciary, “but if you bring it down to what is happening today, and you look at it and see who appointed who, you will find that there was some truth in the research.

“The thing is, our Constitution gives the security of tenure to judges. Once you have been appointed, you cannot be removed. That is why we give security of tenure so that you will have the courage no matter who appointed you to give judgement according to your conscience. That is what our judges should do. They must rise to the occasion,” Mr Mahama stated.

Judicial brushes

In October last year, the former President alleged that the 2020 election verdict by the Supreme Court had been determined even before the case was presented.

He said this in an interview as part of his ‘Thank You’ tour of the Central Region on <I>Cape FM<$> in Cape Coast.

Again, after the Supreme Court’s ruling on deputy speakers’ voting rights, Mr Mahama criticised the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling that deputy speakers could vote while presiding.

He described the verdict by the court as “shocking but not surprising”, saying it set a dangerous precedent for the country’s parliamentary procedure.

He said the ruling was “an unfortunate interpretation for convenience that sets a dangerous precedent of judicial interference in parliamentary procedure for the future”.