President John Dramani Mahama’s application to the Supreme Court seeking clarification on specific issues to be determined in Nana Akufo-Addo’s contestation of the legitimacy of the former’s presidency, shockingly demonstrates a pathetic lack of appreciation for electoral democracy.
It also, more than anything else, underscores the desperate struggle of the former Atta-Mills lieutenant to saving his blighted and heavily damaged political career (See “Election Petition: Mahama Applies for Issues for Determination” Daily Graphic/ Ghanaweb.com 3/14/13).
In the main, the former National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for Gonja-West Constituency is seeking a ruling that patently and illegally undermines the peremptory authority of polling station presiding officers vis-a-vis ballot certification, by transferring the constitutional authority vested in these presiding officers to “polling and/or counting agents [representing the various] presidential candidates.”
No such application for determination could be more absurd. For starters, the first respondent in the Akufo-Addo/New Patriotic Party Supreme Court petition does not explain why a remarkable percentage of polling station presiding officers flatly and adamantly refused to append their “definitive” signatures to ballot-declaration forms. Indeed, as the chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, stated recently in the Volta regional capital of Ho, at a post-election confabulation, polling station presiding officers have been constitutionally invested with the right of refusal to signing off on ballot-declaration forms, if any of these officers feel strongly inclined to doing so.
And so the question that counsel for Mr. Mahama ought to be discussing is: Why did these highest-ranked polling station officers flatly refuse to append their signatures to the ballot-declaration forms? The answer to the foregoing question lies squarely at the heart of whether Election 2012 was irreparably flawed and/or rigged as Nana Akufo-Addo and the main opposition New Patriotic Party maintain.
The first respondent also wants the Supreme Court to order “the petitioners to state the precise number of polling stations where voting took place without biometric verification[;] and [also] whether or not ballots cast without prior biometric verification were allegedly taken into account by the Electoral Commission.”
On the latter count, also, Dr. Afari-Gyan appears to have a forensically sustainable answer. Needless to say, at the same post-electoral review confab alluded to the above, the Electoral Commissioner announced the shocking discovery of evidence clearly pointing to the fact that huge sums of money made available for the training of seasonally contracted polling agents and officers ended up in the pockets and wallets of salaried employees of the Electoral Commission.
Dr. Afari-Gyan’s publicly announced decision to have the EC officials involved in the aforementioned case of criminal embezzlement prosecuted to the fullest extent permitted by law, ought to give the Atuguba Court prime grist for deliberation and a landmark ruling in favor of the petitioners. More so because the preceding is clearly not an isolated incident or a minor human, managerial, error; it clearly appears to be too prevalent and widespread to be envisaged as such.
Furthermore, the fact that Dr. Afari-Gyan has been conducting the country’s general elections for the past two decades, without any such widespread reported incidents of deliberately orchestrated attempts at poll rigging of the magnitude being discussed, here is evidence enough that Election 2012 was inescapably more of an exception than the norm.
Interestingly, however, it ought to be also promptly pointed out that Mr. Mahama, himself, is the most credible and forensically sustainable witness to the fact that, indeed, the EC had allowed ballots to be cast and counted as part of the official results, at the express and public suggestion of the then-Transitional President John Dramani Mahama. And on this count must also be promptly recalled the fact that shortly after casting his vote in his own home district of Gonja-West, Bole-Bamboi, to be exact, Mr. Mahama was widely reported, both in the print and electronic media, to have urged the Electoral Commission to allow people whose voter’s eligibility particulars could not be readily identified and validated by the biometric voting machines to go right ahead and cast their ballots.
Needless to say, in the latter instance, it would also be interesting to hear what the Atuguba Court has to say, vis-a-vis Mr. Mahama’s flagrant breaching of Ghana’s Fourth-Republican Constitution, in willfully and deliberately usurping the legitimate and constitutionally stipulated powers of the Electoral Commissioner. As of whether, indeed, Dr. Afari-Gyan was indisputably complicit in this patent act of treasonable criminality could also be explored by the Atuguba Court, of course.
What is rather risible in President Mahama’s petition is the latter’s attempt to blatantly nullify the very concept of electoral legitimacy. Not only does such move unpardonably insult the intelligence of both the Atuguba Court and any Ghanaian citizen who cast her/his ballot in Election 2012, paradoxically, it also underscores the fact of Mr. Mahama’s being clearly aware of the fact that he could not have won the 2012 presidential Election in any way, shape or form.
This is how the Daily Graphic, Ghana’s flagship government newspaper reported it: “President Mahama, who through his lawyer, Mr. Tony Lithur, filed the application for directions on issues to be set out for trial on March 31, 2013 at the registry of the Supreme Court, ‘is also praying the court to strike out allegations that the total [number] of votes cast exceeded the number of ballot papers issued to voters at polling stations'” [Internal quotations added].
If the preceding is not redolent of a patently criminal case of contempt of court, the infamous trademark of the key operatives of the National Democratic Congress, then, dear reader, your guess is as good as mine. Here again, what needs to be unreservedly emphasized is that unless counsel for Mr. Mahama is in possession of forensic evidence sustainably contradictory of any evidence that Nana Akufo-Addo may have, clearly indicating that, indeed, a glaring case of over-voting had occurred in Election 2012, then what we have here is nothing more than a preemptively guilty party desperately pleading “No Contest” with the temerity of a schoolyard bully. This brazen behavior ought not to be tolerated in the Ghana that I know, and the country in which I was born and raised.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
March 26, 2013