Source: The Weekend Globe
After eight months of an all-out battle at the Supreme Court, a verdict was finally reached on who was legitimately elected as president of the Republic of Ghana in the December 2012 general elections.
The nine-member panel dismissed the petition filed by 2012 NPP Flag bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and two others contesting the legitimacy of John Mahama’s presidency. The Weekend Globe brings you a breakdown of how the various judges ruled on the six issues the court determined.
Voting without biometric verification
The justices ruled 5:4 to dismiss the petitioners’ claims to voting without biometric verification. Justices William Atuguba, Sophia Adinyira, Jones Dotse, Sule Gbadegbe and Vida Akoto Bamfo dismissed the claims of the petitioners.
Justice Atuguba held that the available evidence establishes that the 2012 election started on 7/12/2012 and due to difficulties with the biometric verification machines, continued on 8/12/2012. He said the evidence also shows that form 1C which was meant for those voters, who had biometric voter ID cards but their names were not on the register, was not taken to the polling stations due to opposition from the political parties. He said the plaint about voting without biometric verification cannot therefore hold in the absence of some other contrary evidence. Justice Adinyira found the reasons given by Dr Afari-Gyan plausible to the effect that elections were postponed to the next day due to failure of the BVD machines attest to the fact that all who voted went through biometric verification. She said the Petitioners have not discharged the burden of proof.
Justice Dotse, for his part noted and observed that, so important is this issue of biometric verification that Regulation 34 (1) of C.I. 75 states several reasons some of which are “force majeure” or the breakdown of biometric equipment as some of the reasons to adjourn polling at a station to the next day.
He held that there is ample proof that, the petitioner’s themselves recognise and admit the use of the verification machine to establish the tallies of the election results. Justice Sule Gbadegbe in dismissing the claim held that there is evidence that the disputed elections were postponed to a second day, 8 December 2012 at polling stations where the verification machines had broken down.
A legitimate inference to be made from this unchallenged fact, he maintained is that voting at all polling stations took place after biometric verification of those entitled to vote. Justice Vida Akoto Bamfo in summarizing her ruling to dismiss the claim of voting without biometric verification stated that it is a notorious fact that the poll was adjourned in some areas and therefore there were two days of voting. If persons were allowed to vote without verification would there have been any need for the adjournment, she quizzed.
She ruled that she would prefer the pieces of evidence of the respondent’s on this issue to the bare assertions of the petitioners based on the face of the pink sheets.
In granting the petitioners’ claim Justice Baffoe-Bonnie insisted that in spite of the agreement on the No Verification No Vote (NVNV), and despite CI 75, some people were allowed to vote without verification. He said viewed against the backdrop that some people were actually prevented from voting because they could not be verified, to have allowed voting in some polling stations was discriminatory and should lead to cancellation of their votes. He therefore upheld the petitioners’ claim on this ground only to the extent that those voters that have their votes cancelled should have the chance to recast their votes lest they be disenfranchised.
In granting the petitioners’ claim, Justice Julius Ansah concluded that on the issue of voting without biometric dispensation that where power is conferred, it ought to be exercised in terms of the enabling statute. She said anything done outside the power stands the risk of being affixed with the ultra vires stamp and declared null and void. He subsequently declared that all votes cast at the 2012 presidential elections which were affected by this irregularity of voting without prior biometric verification are nullified. Justice Rose Owusu in her ruling observed that The Biometric verification process was a mandatory component of the 2012 presidential election saying it was unfortunate that the 2nd Respondent sought to introduce the element of discretion into the NO VERIFICATION NO VOTE mantra.
She said voting without biometric verification is an illegality and called for the annulment of votes in all polling stations where the violation occurred. Justice Anin Yeboah in his ruling held the petitioners have proved that the entries show conclusively that voters were not verified biometrically.
He said having found that clear regulations have been flouted by the second respondent the claim of the petitioners on this category ought to be granted, hence the need to proceed to annul votes cast without the biometric verification as required by law.