INSIDE THE SUPREME COURT: A Blow-By-Blow Account Of What NDC & NPP Lawyers Said

There were fireworks at the Supreme Court on Wednesday as the motion for joinder filed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to be part of the petition challenging the declaration of John Dramani Mahama as President was moved. The NDC was due to move the motion on January 10 when the New Patriotic Party (NPP), whose candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and two others have petitioned the court over the validity of the Electoral Commission's (EC) declaration of Mr. Mahama as president objected to the composition of the panel. As a result, the nine-member panel presided over by Justice William Atuguba ordered the NPP legal team to officially file a motion challenging the composition of the court, but the NPP later wrote to the court that it was no longer interested in pursuing the matter, paving the way for the motion for joinder to be moved yesterday. NDC MOTION Moving the motion, Tsatsu Tsikata, lead counsel for the NDC, gave a break-down of the applicant's affidavit in support before going into the legal basis for the joinder application. He said the NDC registered and sponsored the first respondent (President Mahama) in the 2012 presidential election and therefore the party should be allowed to be an interested party to the petition. He said, "There is a particular reason why a party such as the NDC is a necessary party to this petition as Article 55 (1), (2), 3) clearly states." ROLE OF POLITICAL PARTIES Apart from the constitutional provision that makes the NDC an interested party, Mr. Tsikata cited Sections 5 and 6 of Political Parties Act, 2000 (Act 574) as a legislative provision that acknowledges the role of political parties under the 1992 Constitution. "There are numerous references in the Constitutional Instruments regarding public elections and the role played by political parties," he argued. Using C.I. 75 (Public Election Regulation 2012) Regulation 12 (1), the NDC argued that "President Mahama was not an independent candidate but he was sponsored by a political party which is the NDC." He said the definition of Act 574 Section 33 was relevant to the application and added that it was not in doubt that the applicant played a role in respect of the nomination of the 1st respondent to stand on the ticket of the applicant. "The petition does not actually mention that the 1st respondent was the President of the Republic," he argued and added that "we seek to join this application in the interest of justice because the President was nominated, selected and to stand on the platform of the party." CASES Mr. Tsikata cited several cases that bordered on joinders, particularly the case in which Kwame Painim was prevented by Rosemary Ekwam from contesting presidential primary of the NPP in 1996 to buttress the NDC's case. He said the NPP had applied to join that application adding that the NPP applied to join when it suited them but they were seeking to prevent NDC from joining when it did not suit them. "In this petition, we have not waited to be invited to be heard. We have taken steps timeously to be joined as respondent." He said the President was in the process of forming a government of the NDC and joining the suit as we seek to do would advance the interest of justice, adding, "All we are asking for is eminently supported by the precedents." NANA's OPPOSITION Touching on an affidavit in opposition filed by the NPP, Mr. Tsikata said the petition was replete with references to the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and its deliberations and the applicant was an entity that participated in the IPAC deliberations and therefore had a stake in the matter. He said President Mahama, in law, was the symbol of the NDC in the election and for that matter the party could not be sidelined in the petition. "Our application is not brought in bad faith and with the sole purpose of causing undue delay. You know that we filed this application on 31st December 2012 after the petition has been filed on the 28th of December 2012. "We stood ready to move this motion on the due date and I believe you know why we could not move this motion. It cannot be appropriate that we be accused of bad faith." He said that for the petitioners to aver that the NDC was not a citizen of Ghana and did not participate in the election 'defies my imagination'. JAKE, BAWUMIA FACTOR He asked why it was appropriate for the petition of the 3rd petitioner (Jake Obestebi-Lamptey) be regarded as necessary while the applicant whose candidate stood in the election should not be accepted by the court. He also argued that the 2nd respondent, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia was not on the ballot but had filed a petition. "We are seeking to join precisely because it is the validity of the election of 1st respondent that is being challenged and that is why the party on whose platform he stood should be joined. "It is important we join to protect our interest as a political party that actively participated in election." THE WORD 'INCLUDE' He said the word 'include' in C. I. 74 should not be interpreted to mean 'exclusion' as the NPP is seeking to do saying "they interpreted it to exclude the NDC”. "In the definition of C.I. 74, the word 'include' does not exclude the NDC. The word 'include' should be interpreted having regard to the principles articulated by the court."