Election Petition: Ghana’s Supreme Court Upholds Akufo-Addo’s Win

 

Ghana’s Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by the opposition to annul President Akufo-Addo’s victory in last year’s disputed election.

Former President John Dramani Mahama on December 30, 2021, filed a petition at the Supreme Court seeking an annulment of the Presidential election results and the re-run of the election between him and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

John Mahama’s case

Mr. Mahama claims none of the candidates who contested the polls obtained more than 50% of the votes cast. He alleges that the person said to have won the polls benefitted from vote padding.

He also claims the candidate benefitted from arithmetic and computational errors. He concludes that the EC’s declaration of Nana Akufo-Addo is unconstitutional since he did not obtain more than 50% of the valid votes cast.

Electoral Commission’s response

But the EC says the petition is incompetent. It admits that it’s Chairperson Jean Mensa inadvertently read out the figure representing the total number of votes cast as the total number of valid votes and the percentage of Mr. Akufo-Addo as 51.59% instead of 51.295%. It says the allegation of vote padding is untrue. It however admits that minor discrepancies may have occurred as a result of computational and mathematical errors in the course of collation. These errors the commission insists did not affect the outcome of the results as declared by the EC.

Nana Akufo-Addo’s response to petition

On his part, President Akufo-Addo says the petition does not disclose any attack on the validity of the election held in 38,622 polling stations. He says the allegation of vote padding involving some 6,622 votes is empty and insignificant to materially affect the outcome of the election.
He further contends that the petition does not state how many votes John Mahama should have obtained except pointing out that none of the candidates got more than 50% of the votes cast.

Issues for determination

The court before trial commenced set the following issues for determination

  1. Whether or not the petition discloses any reasonable cause of action
  2. Whether or not based on the data contained in the declaration of the 1st Respondent (EC), no candidate obtained more than 50% of the valid votes cast as required by Article 63 (3) of the 1992 constitution
  3. Whether or not the 2nd Respondent still met the article 63 (3) of the 1992 constitution threshold by the exclusion or inclusion of the Techiman South constituency Presidential Election Results of 2020
  4. Whether or not the declaration by the 1st Respondent dated the 9th of December was in violation of Article 63 (3) of the 1992 constitution.
  5. 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.

Final verdict by the Apex Court

On Issue 1, the Chief Justice, Anin Yeboah said the court is convinced that the petitioner raised a reasonable cause of action. He said the argument by the 1st and 2nd Respondents that the petitioner had a weak case is not enough grounds for the petition to be dismissed.

On Issue 2, the Chief Justice said there is no doubt that the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission made a mistake by announcing 13,434,74 instead of 13,121,111 to be total valid votes cast.

According to him, the threshold to declare a president should be based on the total valid votes cast and not the total vote cast, and since that was rectified by the Chairperson, it is wrong for the petitioner to hold the EC to the error made.

He said the apex court is of the opinion that the Chairperson had a right to correct the mistake when it was noticed.

In view of this, the 2nd Respondent had more than 50% of the valid votes cast.

In conclusion, the petitioner’s submission on that did not find favor before the court.

On Issue 3, Chief Justice Anin Yeboah said, at the time the petition was filed, the results of the Techiman South Constitution election had been added and therefore was known to the petitioner.

According to him, the cross-examination of the NDC’s Asiedu Nketia established that the 2nd Respondent had more than the 50% plus one vote threshold.

Again, even if all registered voters in Techiman South of 128,018 were added to the petitioner, the second respondent will still make the more than 50% threshold (50.79%).

The apex court therefore established that President Nana Akufo-Addo crossed the 50%+1 vote requirement even without the results from Techiman South constituency prior to the declaration of the presidential results on December 9, 2020.

On Issue 4, the Chief Justice said  it is the opinion of the apex court that the error made by the EC Chair did not affect the result and was not in violation of Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution.

According to him, there is no denying the fact that the EC Chairperson made an error, however, based on available evidence it was corrected..

He said to hold otherwise will mean that errors made in statements and figures are enough to nullify an election result.

Again, the court was of the view that the petition also failed to back his claim that the declaration by the EC Chairperson was wrong.

On Issue 5, the Chief Justice said although the court finds the accusation of vote padding very serious it observed that this allegation was not proven by the petitioner.

According to him, the judges are therefore settled in their minds that even if there was vote padding, it did not in any way affect the outcome of the election results.

“The Petitioner did not adduce cogent evidence to back this claim. The court expected the pink sheets to be exhibited to prove the claims. Allegations of wrong aggregations of votes were not proved. Even if the vote padding was accepted, it will not impact the validity of the votes of Nana Akufo-Addo,” Justice Anin Yeboah read.

Conclusion

To summarise the verdict, the Chief Justice said the apex court therefore finds no reason to order a re-run of the 2020 elections.

Justice Anin Yeboah explained that the petition is being dismissed because it also holds no merit.

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