Election Petition case: Tsatsu’s wizardry on display today at the Supreme Court

Another historic chapter in the annals of the country’s political journey is about to unfold beginning today January 15th, 2021. And the setting again is the country’s apex court, the Supreme Court.

On 30th December, 2020, the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) presented to the Supreme Court a petition, which he claims contains evidence of irregularities that compromised the sanctity and the true expression of the will of the Ghanaian people in the December 7th, general elections.

Candidate Mahama had maintained in the immediate aftermath of the elections that the collated results as posted by the Jean Mensah-led Electoral Commission (EC), were skewed to favour incumbent President, Nana Akufo Addo, who also dabbled as the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

On December 9th 2020, Jean Mensah, the Electoral Commissioner declared the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP), Nana Akufo Addo as the winner of the 2020 presidential elections.

According to the EC boss, the total registered voters were 17, 027,941; with 13, 432857 being the total votes cast, with the total valid votes cast standing at 13,119,460.

Out of the number, Nana Akufo Addo, according to Jean Mensah had 6,730,587 (51.3 %); and John Dramani Mahama obtaining 6,213,182, representing (47.3%).

These results were after the EC had amended its earlier declaration on Dec. 9th, 2020, claiming it inadvertently used the total votes cast instead of total valid votes cast to make her earlier declaration. The EC, however clarified in a statement on December 10th thus: “This does not change the percentages slated for each of the candidates and the declaration made by the Chairperson”.

The declaration was strongly objected to by candidate Maham and the NDC, accusing the Electoral Commission of refusing to deal with some infractions relating to the conduct of the entire elections.

Mr. John Mahama accused the EC of over-voting; padding, swapping of votes and under-voting which he claimed, all went against his candidature. The NDC also contend there were similar flawed collations in some of the parliamentary counts that went against some NDC Parliamentary Candidate and were therefore seeking to over-turn nine seats that went to erroneously went to the NDC at some proxy high courts where those mistakes were identified.

The EC has on countless occasions made several clerical errors and that solidifies NDC’s claim of a flawed election. Therefore, for the second time, Ghana will be on the edge, waiting with bated breath the outcome of the Mahama/NDC electoral petition at the Supreme Court.

Preliminary hearing today

The Supreme Court will however hear John Mahama’s submission to be granted the permission to amend aspects of his petition today. The hearing for the substantive case will however commence on January 22, 2021.

It’s today’ sitting that Ghanaians will know which nine out of the 19 Supreme Court judges will be empaneled by the Chief Justice to sit on the petition. It will also be of significant interest if the Chief Justice himself will be part of the panel.

News emanating from the Judicial Service secretariat is that the proceedings from the petition hearing will be telecast live as requested by the NDC.

The first ever election petition was presented to the Supreme Court by the NPP after the 2012 election. The hearing however, started in 2013 and run for almost eight months before it was dismissed by a 6-3 majority decision by the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court has given every indication that any such petition will be dealt with within 42 days of the submission at the apex court.

It’s therefore the hope that the Mahama petition would not travel that far, as was in the case of the NPP/Akufo Addo petition against then Electoral Commissioner, Kwadwo Afari Djan and the Electoral Commission.

Tsatsu Tsikata leads Mahama/NDC again; Who leads the NPP?

Life has a way of throwing up trajectories that mirror our past image and identity. Then NPP presidential candidate, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo was the petitioner in the 2013 petition case; with John Mahama, Afari-Djan and the EC as respondents.

In the 2013 petition, the EC was led in counsel by Quarshie Idun with Tadeaus Sory as support counsel. The NDC with its presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama however joined the suit as an interested party and were led in counsel by the Law Luminary, Tsatsu Tsikata.

Today, John Mahama is playing the petitioner plaintiff; with the Electoral Commissioner and President Akufo being the respondents. The Supreme Court in anticipation of possible petitions after the elections, gave a directive before the 2020 elections that the Courts, including the Supreme Court, will not entertain any third party interest like it did in the 2013 petition.

Many believe then candidate John Mahama won the Supreme Court petition case because of the legal wizardry of Tsatsu Tsikata, whose client–the NDC, only joined the petition as a party with vested interest. Such third party arrangement will not be applicable in this year’s petition.

Team Akufo-Addo/NPP was led by then little known, Lawyer Addison, whose status in the law profession soared after the 2013 petition case.

Now Tsatsu is the lead counsel for John Mahama and the conversation is being centred on whether another of the Tsatsu master-stroke could change the EC declared verdict in favour of the NDC presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama.

Others in the John Mahama team include Fui Tsikata, Abraham Amaliba, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamakpor, Baba Jamal and Dominic Ayeni.

The rest are Samuel Cudjoe, Dr. Bassit Bamba, Dr Rainer Akumperigya, Tony Lithur, Nana Ato Dadzie, Marrietta Brew Appiah-Oppng, Abraham Amaliba and Edudzi Kudzo.

It’s not clear whether the NPP whose candidate, Nana Akufo Addo benefited from the disputed elections will seek a review of the new Supreme Court directive that the petition should only involve the aggrieved party and the Electoral Commissioner, in order to be part of the suit.

Akufo Addo will also be represented by lead veteran counsel and his one-time professional associate, Akoto Ampaw.

Who’s Tsatsu Tsikata?

Tsatsu Tsikata is a 70-year-old Lawyer, born on October 1st 1950. He was the former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Authority (GNPC) and was educated at the University of Oxford, UK; University of Ghana, Legon.

In 1960, Tsatsu started his secondary education at the prestigious Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast, at age nine (9). After completing his five-year course, he gained admission into the University of Ghana to study Law, aged sixteen (16).

After two years at the Faculty of Law, Tsatsu obtained First Class in his LLB exams.

Some of his lecturers at the time included Professor Ofosu Armarh and Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah. Tsatsu then won a United African Company (UAC) scholarship for his post graduate scholarship education at the University of Oxford where he again obtained First Class Honours, in Bachelor of Civil Law.

This is an equivalent of a Master’s Degree at other British Universities. He then became a junior research fellow at the Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he also served as a lecturer.

Tsatsu attended the Additrom Preparatory School and later transferred to Mrs. Sam

Preparatory, a basic school, also attended by former president, Jerry John Rawlings. He would later move to the Accra Newtown Experimental School where he was jumped from class two (2) to class three (3) to catch up with his elder brother, Fui Tsikata.

Some of his Working Experiences

On his return to Ghana in 1974, Tsatsu was appointed a lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of Ghana. He taught some of the finest legal brains we have in the country today. They include Kwamena Ahwoi, Alban Bagbin and Freddy Blay.

He together with Akufo Addo fought attempts by the Limann administration to replace then Chief Justice Albert Apallo and also to replace Ms. Elizabeth Ohene as the editor of the Daily Graphic at the inception of the 3rd Republic in 1979.

Tsatsu was also the lead counsel for his cousin Captain Kojo Tsikata in the 1982 murder trail case involving some three High Court Judges and a retired Army Officer during the earlier heady days of the Provisional National Defence Council Military Junta.

Justices Sakordie Addo, Kwadwo Agyei Agyepong, Cecilia Koranteng Addo, all Justices of the High Court and Major Sam Acquah, a retired Personnel Manager of Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation (GIHOC), were abducted and murdered in cold blood by some serving military officers and a member of the PNDC, Joachim Amartey Kwei on June 30th, 1982.

It was during the trial that Captain Tsikata’s name came up as the possible master-brain behind the heinous act. It took Tsatsu’s dexterity and know how to save his cousin from what on the face-value seems an obvious involvement of Kojo Tsikata in the murderous act.

Amartey Kwei, Tetteh Djandu and Tekpor who were found guilty by the Special Trial Tribunal were however executed by firing squad. The 4th accused Lance Cpl. Amedeka fled the country and was sentenced to death in absentia.

Causing Financial Lost to the State

Tsatsu Tsikata was tried for causing Financial Loss to the State by an Accra Fast Track Tribunal which trial lasted for six years and was pronounced guilty on 18th June, 2008 by Mrs. Henrietta Mensah Abban.

He was granted unconditional pardon by President John Kufuor on his last day in office after the NPP lost the 2008 elections. His pardon came at a time that Tsatsu was on admission at the Korle-bu Teaching hospital under prison guard, following a `severe bout of asthma.

Tasatsu rejected the presidential pardon, and announced at a forum that the pardon was not done in good faith and that he would fight through the court system to restore his clean image and name.

In his petition at the Appeal Court, Tsatsu’s appeal was upheld on the grounds that the High Court unjustly jailed Tsatsu Tsikata and subsequently cleared him of any wrongdoing. That was on February 2nd 2016.

 

By Richmond Keelson

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