That Ex-President John Dramani Mahama did not poll enough votes to win the Presidential Election held on December 7, is not in dispute. The petition he filed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday makes this abundantly clear.
Relief (b) on page six of the seven-page petition seeks: “A declaration that, based on the data contained in the declaration made by Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, Chairperson of 1st Respondent and the Returning Officer for the Presidential Elections held on 7th December 2020, no candidate satisfied the requirement of Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution to be declared President-elect.”
But this admission runs counter to Mr Mahama’s earlier comment that he won the Presidential election and his party had enough seats in Parliament to form the Majority. He had unequivocally declared that: “Despite all of the ruling party’s inducements, use of monetary enticements, and other such schemes on a scale never before seen in this country, the good people of this country understood what was at stake, and it was clear, as the result of the votes that were legally cast that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) won the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.”
Poring over his petition, it appears the ex-Ghanaian leader has jettisoned his previous stance in favour of a rerun of the Presidential poll. He alleged in his petition that “The claim that percentage of votes obtained by the 2nd Respondent [Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo] was 51.595% [6,730,413] of the total valid votes that she [Electoral Commissioner Jean Mensa] distinctly stated to have been 13,434,574 was a manifest error, as votes cast for 2nd Respondent would amount to 50.098% and not the 51.595% erroneously declared.”
Aside from the glaring shift in his earlier position, the petition is riddled with what I have termed as Mahama-tical errors. Mr Mahama roundly berated the Electoral Commission and the Returning Officer for the Presidential Election, Mrs Jean Mensa for various “manifest errors.”
The NDC Presidential Candidate claimed in paragraph 10 of his petition that: “From the total valid votes cast of 13,434,574, Petitioner’s percentage would be 46.260% and not the 47.366% erroneously declared.” He continued in paragraph 11 that “The percentages attributed to all but one of the other candidates by Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa were also incorrect.”
However, Mr Mahama’s petition was not consistent in maintaining who the 1stand 2ndRespondents are. He referred to the Electoral Commission as the 1stRespondent, and then in the same breath, he addressed the incumbent President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the 1stRespondent.
A classic case is relief (f) where Mr Mahama is asking the apex court to grant “An order of mandatory injunction directing the 1stRespondent [Electoral Commission] to proceed to conduct a second election with Petitioner [Mr Mahama] and 1stRespondent [Electoral Commission] as the candidates as required under Articles 63(4) and (5) of the 1992 Constitution.”
One would hope that considering the high-profile nature of the petition and the pedigree of the legal team the ex-President has assembled to execute his case, such clerical mistakes would be avoided but that was not the case.
My mother told me that “the man who labels his neighbour as a mad person for exhibiting a particular tendency should be ready to be described in the same fashion when he does a similar act.”
Already, some people are prognosticating that Mr Mahama would not be permitted to amend his petition, citing subrule (7) of Rule 68 of C.I.16 amended which states that “A petitioner shall not amend a petition so as to add unto or alter the grounds of the petition as stated in the filed petition.”
This argument has been rejected by NDC Member of Parliament (MP), Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor who is a lawyer. He has asked their party supporters to ignore the noisemakers. “We must not allow the NPP [New Patriotic Party] to set the tone. The errors being spoken about are not fatal and all practising lawyers know that we make these mistakes all the time. It is clerical and not fatal. It’s remediable even in open court. It’s inter-positional. So, let’s get to the substance,” he Twittered.
I will not wade into this matter except to say that ignorance is bliss. However, I am convinced the Ghanaian court will allow such “clerical errors” to be corrected in the interest of justice.
But can the same grace be extended to the Electoral Commission after making those egregious mistakes?
The author, A. Kwabena Brakopowers is a freelance journalist, development communications practitioner, essayist and a novelist whose works focus on communication, politics, gender, migration, international relations and development. He could be reached at Brakomen@outlook.com