The Supreme Court has granted an application by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) seeking to join a petition contesting the declaration of President John Dramani Mahama as winner of the December 7, 2012 presidential poll.
The court by a 6-3 majority decision agreed to the argument raised by lawyers of the applicants and granted the application.
After lawyers for both the applicants (the NDC legal team), led by Tsatsu Tsikata and the respondents represented by Philip Addison ended their submissions at the last sitting (Jan 16), the court fixed today for ruling.
Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, who moved the motion for joinder, prayed the court to allow his client to join the petition as a respondent because the name and the symbol of the NDC were displayed against President Mahama’s photograph, adding that it would “advance the interest of justice” if the NDC was made to join the petition as respondents.
He denied assertions that the NDC’s application for joinder was intended to delay the petition and argued that the party filed its motion three days after the filing of the petition.
Counsel for the President, Mr Tony Lithur, associated himself with the NDC’s application for joinder and, accordingly, prayed the court to grant it.
The EC, for its part, declined to react to the application and left the matter to the discretion of the court.
Opposing the motion, the lead counsel for the petitioners (but in this case the respondents), Mr Philip Addison, said the motion for joinder would delay the trial and, therefore, draw back the purpose of the new Supreme Court rules aimed at expediting the hearing of petitions challenging results of presidential elections.
The nine-member panel, which heard the motion on whether or not the NDC should be allowed to join the petition, included Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Annin Yeboah, Mr P. Baffoe- Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
The motion had originally been billed to be moved by the NDC's legal team on Thursday, January 10, 2013, but was adjourned sine die after lawyers for the petitioners objected to the composition of the nine-member panel presided over by Mr Justice William Atuguba.
However, barely 24 hours after it had been raised in camera by lawyers for the petitioners, the NPP did a quick volte-face and withdrew the objection.
Following the withdrawal of the objection, the registrar of the Supreme Court, on Monday, January 14, 2013, served hearing notices on lawyers for the parties in the case.
Unlike in the past, when the Supreme Court was opened to the public, attendance at today's proceedings just as the two other sittings, was strictly by invitation and under very heavy security.
There was a large number of security personnel to maintain law and order from the streets through to the Supreme Court compound and the inner perimeter of the court building.
Scanners were placed at the lower and upper floors of the Supreme Court. People were thoroughly searched, while cellular phones and the use of other electronic gadgets was prohibited inside the courtroom.
Only accredited journalists, lawyers, party functionaries and members of the public were allowed entry into the courtroom.
Now with the court having determined that the NDC can be joined in the case in its capacity as a political party, the registrar of the Supreme Court is now expected to fix a date for the hearing of the substantive petition and communicate it to parties in the case.
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