Atuguba’s Mind Was Made Up Before Election Petition Trial - Lawyer Ampaw

Lawyer and President of the Legal Advocacy Foundation, Maurice Ampaw, says the 48-paged judgement of the President of the panel that heard the 2012 Presidential Election Petition reveals that he had already made up his mind even before the trial began and so could not be bothered about the evidence adduced at the trial. Dr Ampaw stated this at a symposium organised by the Danquah Institute to review and critique the 588-paged judgement handed down by the Supreme Court. The lawyer explained that the judgement had disappointed the hopes and aspirations of Ghanaians, adding that he was baffled by statements made by Justice Atuguba, which also represented the majority decision of the court. Dr Ampaw quoted from page 40 of Justice Atuguba’s judgement which states that: “For starters I would state that the Judiciary in Ghana, like its counter parts in other jurisdictions, does not readily invalidate a public election but often strives in the public interest, to sustain it.” This, according to Dr Ampaw, was a very unfortunate statement which should not have come from a Supreme Court Judge. Justice Atuguba’s statement, Dr Ampaw explained, could only mean that regardless of the evidence one may have on illegalities, irregularities, omissions, commissions, violations or malpractices that affected the conduct of an election, Justice Atuguba would have none of it because “he does not readily invalidate a public election but often strives in the public interest, to sustain it.” Dr Ampaw further added that this statement by Justice Atuguba had sent out wrong signals to the Ghanaian public, adding that if one feels aggrieved by the outcome of an election and has evidence to back it up, the Supreme Court will throw out his case because the court “does not readily invalidate a public election but often strives in the public interest, to sustain it.” The lawyer further added that such utterances by Judges elsewhere across the globe had reduced the confidence of the citizenry in the Judiciary because of the feeling that justice cannot be obtained in the courts but through other means. It is recalled that the Let My Vote Count Alliance in a statement on the 28th of June educated Ghanaians on the need to understand why Kenya’s opposition ignored the legal option in January 2008. According to the statement, Raila Odinga made it clear that he did not trust the judges to handle the petition justly. Technicalities and delays had frustrated all previous attempts to seek redress in disputed elections in Kenya. Before Odinga, the only two presidential petitions in Kenya’s history had fallen on the double-edged sword of technicalities and delay. Kenya’s first election petition case, Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba vs Daniel arap Moi, was from the 1992 contest, which many believed was rigged in favour of the incumbent, Moi. After long delays, the case was struck out because the petitioner, who became physically incapacitated at the time, gave his wife power of attorney to sign the petition papers on his behalf. So the court finally threw the case out because of form and not substance. The Matiba case in Kenya was followed five years later by the case of Mwai Kibaki vs Daniel arap Moi. This case spent two years in the courtroom before it was thrown out on a technicality that President Moi was not personally served with the petition. For Kenyans, loss of confidence in the judiciary over election petitions led to 1,300 dead and 600,000 others displaced from their homes.