Some NDC folks have begun predicting the outcome of their party’s petition, currently pending at the Supreme Court. They could totally be wrong with the prediction though.
But their faint hope seems to be premised on a disturbing news emanating from their MP for Bongo in the Upper East Region—Hon. Edward Bawa.
According to Hon Bawa, a top Supreme Court Judge tried to persuade a new Member of Parliament from the NDC side to vote for Prof. Mike Oquaye, the NPP’s pick for the Speaker of the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic.
This was when it became obvious that the NPP and the NDC were in no mood to agree on a compromised candidate for the Speakership position.
While the NPP’s pick was the immediate past Speaker, Prof. Mike Oquaye; Hon. A.K.S Bagbin, the longest serving MP in the 4th Republic, was NDC’s choice for the revered position.
As the contest went into a vote, Hon. Bagbin beat Prof Oquaye by 138 votes to 136 with one spoilt ballot. With both NDC and NPP MP representation pegged at 137 each, the contention is that an NPP MP voted for the NDC candidate, with another NPP MP deliberately destroying his/her ballot.
Hon. Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, the NDC Chief Whip and MP for Asawase in the Ashanti Region confirmed the allegation on Joynews Sunday, January 10th, 2020. He disclosed that the said SC Judge even attached to his/her offer some juicy pegs.
The anonymous judge’s conditional proposal included fuel for all vehicles of the said MP for her four-year tenure in Parliament; and also pay for the school fees of her children within the four-year period.
But why is Hon. Bawa refusing to expose the name of the SC Judge? NDC insiders have hinted that they are keeping the name of the accused judge under wraps because there is the possibility the party (NDC) may use the recorded telephone conversation as evidence to compel the Chief Justice from empaneling the said Judge in NDC’s election petition case at the Supreme Court.
NDC’s fear about pre-judicial outcome of election petition
It’s been long five days before the Chief Justice came calling on Hon. Muntaka to assist the judiciary to identify who the said judge is. However, the Asawase MP has made it clear that he will only corporate with a commission of enquiry set up by the Chief Justice to look into the bribery allegation.
The delay in the response is causing a lot of suspicion and seems to stoke the belief within some NDC quarters that as a highly political case, the NDC’s petition at the Supreme Court could suffer a fate similar to how adjudication on such similar cases in the past have been influenced by partisan considerations than the law.
The logical question then becomes: What would be the interest of a Supreme Court judge in a purely legislative issue? The behaviour of the said judge, albeit wrongly or rightly, is being linked to NDC’s election petition case with some observers wondering whether the case will suffer a political adjudication rather than legal as we’ve witnessed in some political cases in the past.
So for the first time in Ghana’s 4th Republican Parliament, the selection of a Speaker of Parliament was committed into voting. All seven Speakers of the 4th Republic have been picked or selected by the ruling party with majority in Parliament.
These were Justice Daniel Francis Annan NDC, 1993 to 2001; Peter Ala Adjetey NPP, 2001-2005 and Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi-Huges NPP, 2005-2009. The rest are Justice Joyce Bamford Addo NDC, 2009-2013; Hon Doe Adjaho NDC, 2013 to 2017 and Prof Mike Aaron Oquaye 2017-2021.
The current political dispensation has churned out some interesting developments within the very pillars of our governance structure; that is the executive, legislature and the judiciary. Except the legislature, which the constitution permits the President—the head of the executive, to appoint ministers of state from, the executive and particularly, the judiciary are expected to be strictly independent.
But is the judiciary that independent? There were times that the US Embassy in Ghana in its annual report on Ghana labelled the Ghanaian judiciary as being in the pocket of the executive. Former Director of Ghana School of Law on politicization of the Judiciary
Recently, a former Director of Ghana School of Law, Mr. Kwaku Ansa-Asare disclosed that some cases that appear before the country’s Supreme Court are so political that judges treat them as such; implying that political premium on such cases are given more consideration than which the law defines.
He was commenting on the landmark case between the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) where the Supreme Court upheld the EC’s position that a birth certificate cannot be used to determine a Ghanaian nationality.
According to the SC ruling, the two valid documents to determine who a Ghanaian is should be a valid Ghanaian passport and a National Identification Card.
The ruling caused major uproar among many Ghanaians for the following reasons: First, the ruling conferred erroneously on the EC, the authority to determine who a Ghanaian is; and in the process, usurped the powers of the National Identification Authority (NIA).
Again, the SC through its ruling, confirmed the EC’s position that a basic and fundamental document like the birth certificate cannot be used to authenticate a Ghanaian nationality.
The intriguing aspect of the ruling is the fact that one needs to get a valid birth certificate in order to access the so-called two legitimate—Nationality ID and Ghanaian Passport, mediums of nationality.
Politicization of the Judiciary
Mr. Ansa-Asare’s observation only came to confirm the long standing view/perception about how political cases in our judiciary set-up are often determined based on the political biases of some trail judges.
But gradually, the suspicion is transitioning from mere impression to somewhat a reality. The outcome of some of such political cases seem to offer credence how such politically-induced judgement are becoming alarming in the 4th Republic.
It therefore becomes quite easy predicting the judgement of many of such cases at the Supreme Court that the former Director of the Ghana School of Law described as political. Two of such cases illustrate the point about politics in our judicial system.
The Celebration of June 4th Uprising & 31st December Revolution
These were the declaration June 4th and December 31st as public holidays. The two events were celebrated under the 4th Republic during the tenure of former President Jerry John Rawlings. June 4th, 1979 and 31 December 1981 are two of the country’s calendar dates that many Ghanaians dread re-living because of the pain and hardships that the said dates brought to many Ghanaian individuals and their families.
But none, including some of the worst affected parties of the two military regimes, could challenge the declaration of the stated dates as statutory public holidays during the reign of Jerry Rawlings, the chief architect of the June 4th uprising and the 31st December revolution.
It was not much of a bother to many Ghanaians when Rawlings celebrated the two occasions during the military PNDC days; but were so hurtful when Rawlings and the NDC kept the two dates as national holidays in a civilian 4th Republic.
The overwhelming notion was that it would have been an effort in futility to challenge the celebration of June 4th and 31st December at the Supreme Court during Rawlings’ first civilian administration in the 4th Republic, with the assumption that impartial judgement cannot be guaranteed under the Rawlings’ packed Supreme Court at the time.
There is the popular belief that Kufuor managed to proscribe the celebration of the two military insurgencies because he managed to get majority of the justices at the Supreme Court changed.
Indeed, those were the times that the general public could easily predict the outcome of any political case at the Supreme Court depending on judges empaneled.
Still living with political cases and political Judgements?
The perception has lingered on from administration to administration. And the outcomes of some of these highly politicized cases over the period seem to confirm close to reality the perception that often political cases are dealt with, with jaundiced political biases than the law. To be fair to the judges, perhaps their judgement is based on strict interpretation of the law.
However, there is cause to worry, if consistently, their rulings on most of these political cases go in favour of sitting government or administration.
By Richmond Keelson