Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah

A Ghanaian citizen, Mr Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako has indicated that it is dangerous for lawyers to ‘blackmail’ Supreme Court Judges in the ongoing 2020 presidential election petition hearing because some decisions of the court do not go their way.

Former President John Dramani Mahama filed the petition at the Apex Court, calling for a re-run of the election between him and President Nana Akufo-Addo, because in his view, nobody won the polls.

In hearing the petition, a number of lawyers including law professors have faulted the seven-member panel of Judges hearing the case for ruling that Chairperson of the 1st Respondent in the case, Mrs Jean Mensa; and Mr Peter Mac Manu for 2nd Respondent, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, cannot be compelled to testify.

According to these critics, the Apex Court should have relaxed the rules of court and settled practice; and set some supposed precedent to allow the EC chair to mount the witness box to account for her stewardship in the conduct of the 2020 general election.

However, Mr Antwi-Boasiako in a widely published article said in an election petition where the provisions of the 1992 constitution and the rules of court are clear, aggrieved lawyers should not suggest that “the Supreme Court must bend backwards to accommodate their motions when such motions do not meet the standards of the law.”

“How can a Petitioner come to the Supreme Court under Article 64(1) of the 1992 Constitution, but when Their Lordships apply the spirit and letter of Article 64(3) and thus rely on Rules of Court and Statute (such as C.I. 16, as amended by C.I. 74 and C.I. 99, and Evidence Act, 1975 NRCD 323) to determine and dismiss motions that do not meet the standards of the law, then all hell break loose among constitutional lawyers, social commentators and Civil Society Organisations?”, he quizzed.

He added that, “As an unlearned person, I feel particularly scandalised by the suggestions from constitutional lawyers that somehow, there is nothing wrong for an election petition to be filed under a Constitutional provision”, but there is everything wrong for the Supreme Court to then insist that, “our jurisdiction invoked in this election petition is a limited jurisdiction clearly circumscribed by law. We do not intend to extend our mandate beyond what the law requires of us in such petitions brought under article 64(1) challenging the validity of the election of a President”.

Strange claim

Mr Antwi-Boasiako felt scandalized by some weird arguments by some of the critics.

“I feel even more scandalized by the suggestion that the posture of the Supreme Court could lead to a situation where in future, supporters of a losing presidential candidate would resort to violence rather than allow their candidate to seek redress at the Supreme Court. Really? Are we stooping so low to blackmail? Are we being asked to treat the Petitioner as a spoilt kid who must be showered with candies otherwise he would throw tantrums and resort to violence to destroy every breakable in the house?

 “Another suggestion that has been made is that it will not hurt anybody for the Supreme Court to ignore Article 64(3) and just use its discretion to force the EC Chairperson to testify, against the rules and statute, to satisfy a certain public opinion and a certain progressive election petition jurisprudence. We are told that even if that could lead to a situation where once in every 4 years we may have one ridiculous election petition filed at the Supreme Court, that would be better than losers in the current election petition losing faith in the judicial process (i.e., the Supreme Court).”

Court litigation

Mr Antwi-Boasiako argued that the respondents in the election petition have every right to adopt the strategy that will help them win their case. “Regardless of the so-called public interest that would be served by the proposal being espoused, the Respondents also have an equal right to Justice.”

“Any suggestion that the Respondents’ right to justice must be sacrificed for the benefit of the Petitioner and to satisfy some public opinion and progressive election petition jurisprudence, is grossly misplaced and unfair”, he added.

Mr Antwi-Boasiako quizzed, “What is the guarantee that supporters of a future Petitioner who presents a ridiculous petition to the Supreme Court, would also not hold the country to ransom by insisting that, regardless of how ridiculous the petition may be, the Supreme Court could not dismiss the petition, failing which they would destroy the country?”

He said he has no doubt there would be electoral reforms and new constitutional instruments regulating future presidential elections and election petitions in Ghana, following lessons from the 2016 presidential election and the current election petition.

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