President Nana Akufo-Addo (R) and Vice President Bawumia

The Supreme Court yesterday unanimously dismissed the 2020 presidential election petition filed by former President John Dramani Mahama, saying it has no merit.

The apex court affirmed Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the validly elected President of Ghana together with his Vice Dr Mahamudu Bawumia in last year’s general election.

Mr Mahama filed the petition, praying for a re-run between him and President Akufo-Addo as he claimed no candidate won the polls because of some alleged errors committed by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa. 

According to the unanimous judgment of the seven-member panel that heard the case, “The petitioner did not demonstrate in any way how the errors committed by the EC affected the declaration of the election…We have therefore no reason to order a re-run of the polls. We accordingly dismiss the petition”.

The judgment was read by the President of the panel, Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah.

The petition

In his petition filed on December 30, 2020, Mr. Mahama sought five reliefs from the apex court.

He among things asked the Supreme Court to declare the EC’s declaration of President Nana Akufo-Addo as winner of the polls as unconstitutional, null and void.

The petitioner called three witnesses to make his case at the court–Johnson Asiedu Nketia, Dr. Michael Kpessa-Whyte and Joseph Rojo Mettle-Nunoo and they were cross-examined.

The 5 issues determined by the court:

Former President Mahama and his team in court

Whether or not the Petition discloses any reasonable cause of action

Allegations of vote padding and wrong aggregation of votes were raised as the reasonable cause of action in the case.

Though this was opposed, the court said it need not focus on the strength of the case to determine whether or not the court has jurisdiction in the matter.

Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah said the court, after critically examining the case so far was satisfied that the case discloses a cause of action and properly invoked the jurisdiction of the court.

Whether or not based on the data contained in the EC’s declaration of results, no candidate obtained more than 50% of the valid votes cast

The court acknowledged the mistakes the EC made in the declaration of the election results. The EC chairperson announced 13,434,574 instead of 13,121,111 to be the total valid votes cast.

The court also noted that Mr. Mahama accepted that the total valid votes cast were 13,121,111 in line with the correction by the EC.

It therefore said there was no legal basis for anyone to contend that the 13,434,574 should be used as total valid votes.

The Supreme Court also stated that it was wrong to hold the error made by the EC against the commission as the error was subsequently corrected.

Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah said Mahama’s legal team could also not provide any statute to the effect that the EC needed to consult stakeholders before effecting corrections.

Whether or not President Akufo-Addo got the required votes by the exclusion or inclusion of the Techiman South Constituency election results

On this issue, the court said it was established in court that President Nana Akufo-Addo crossed the 50 percent-plus one vote requirement even without the results from Techiman South constituency prior to the declaration of the presidential results on December 9, 2020.

The total valid votes with Techiman South inclusive will be 13,220,547.  The computation will show that President Akufo-Addo made the more-than-50-percent-plus-one threshold.

Even if all registered voters in Techiman South of 128,018 were added to the petitioner’s results, the second respondent will still make the more than 50 percent threshold (50.79%)

Whether or not the EC’s election results declaration was in violation of Article 63 (3) of 1992 Constitution.

The court said the error committed by the commissioner could not void the declaration. It noted that agreeing with Mr. Mahama’s petition will mean errors by the commission in a post will nullify the truth of the statement even if that is not the case.  The Commission did not act in violation of Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution. The court added that Mr. Mahama has not been able to prove that none of the candidates got more than 50% of the total votes cast.

Whether or not the alleged vote padding and other errors complained of by the petitioner affected the outcome of the Presidential Election Results of 2020

The court held that Mr. Mahama did not provide sufficient evidence to back this claim which is considered very serious because of the implications on the integrity of Ghana’s elections. The court said it expected the pink sheets to be exhibited to prove the claims. Allegations of wrong aggregations of votes were also not proven.

The court further said even if the claims of vote padding were accepted it would not impact President Akufo-Addo’s election victory.

Mr. Mahama in his closing address insisted that he discharged the burden of proof placed on by the constitution.