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Finally: Supreme Court to decide destiny of Zanetor Rawlings

The decision by the highest court of the land is likely to open the floodgates for accused persons to file for bail

The Supreme Court of Ghana on Thursday May 19, 2016 shall determine the political destiny of beleaguered NDC Klottey Korle parliamentary candidate elect Dr. Zanetor Rawlings in a widely anticipated ruling in the protracted legal case of Ashietey Vs Zanetor Rawlings/NDC.

The panel of eminent Supreme Court judges sitting on the case, according to sources, are headed by William Atuguba JSC but also includes Anim Yeboah JSC, Gabriel Pwamang JSC, Yaw Apau JSC, and Anthony Benin JSC. The chief justice empanelled the Supreme Court to sit on the case after Zanetor Rawlings, daughter of NDC founder and former President Jerry John Rawlings brought an action to the Supreme Court seeking to prohibit, Justice kweku T. Ackaah-Boafo from hearing the case and his two previous rulings on Zanetor’s applications to the high court quashed.

In her two previously dismissed applications to the high court, Zanetor Rawlings, whose qualification to run as an NDC parliamentary candidate in last November’s primaries as a non-registered voter, is being challenged by incumbent MP Nii Armah Ashietey, asked the court to dismiss the case outright for lack of merit. However, presiding high court judge Ackah-Boafo dismissed Zanetor’s applications on both occasions, stating that Zanetor Rawlings has a case to answer in court and therefore asked her to file her defence.

Justice Ackaah-Boafo had described the instant application by lawyers for Zanetor Rawlings to have the case against her dismissed out of court as ‘unmeritorious, vexatious and a clear abuse of the court process’. He went on to impose a cost of gh2500 on her for wasting the court’s time.

A date was subsequently set for the hearing of the substantive case in the high court.

But even before that date, lawyers for Zanetor Rawlings in a surprise move, filed another application at the supreme court praying for the quashing of the previous rulings of the high court judge and to prohibit Justice kweku T. Ackaah-Boafo from continuing to sit on the case on the bases that the high court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case because the proper procedure was not adopted by the plaintiff to invoke the court’s jurisdiction as this is an ‘election petition’ and that the high court judge ‘erred in law’ in his rulings against Zanetor Rawlings.

The incumbent Member of Parliament of the Klottey Klottey constituency initiated the high court action against Zanetor Rawlings on January 19 2016 challenging her eligibility to contest the primaries on the ticket of the NDC.
Recent media comments made by general secretary of the NDC Mr. Johnson AsieduNketiah in support of Dr.Zanetor Rawlings as well as public gimmicks by the first lady Mrs. Lordina Mahama has created a public perception that the NDC leadership are going at all length to ensure that Zanetor Rawlings goes through to win the court case at all cost.
Three (3) out of the five (5) Supreme Court Judges empanelled by the chief Justice to sit on this case were appointed by President John Dramani Mahama whiles one each was appointed by both former President Jerry John Rawlings and former President John Agyekum Kufuor.

The writ issued by Hon. Nii Armah Ashietey seeks the following reliefs from the high court:

a. A declaration that the decision by the NDC to allow Dr.Zanetor Rawlings to contest the parliamentary primaries in the KlotteyKorle constituency on its ticket when she was not a registered voter within the meaning of Article 94(1)(a) of the 1992 constitution AT THE TIME OF THE SAID CONTEST violates the constitution and the internal regulations governing the conduct of parliamentary primaries of the NDC and same is illegal and of no effect.

b. A declaration that Dr.Zanetor Rawlings’ election as a parliamentary candidate elect for the Klottey Korle constituency is null and void and is of no effect as same violates the constitution of the NDC and the rules governing the conduct of the 2015 parliamentary primaries.

c. An order of the court directed at the NDC for the re-run of the parliamentary primaries in the Klottey Korle constituency between the plaintiffs in accordance with its constitution and the regulations governing the conduct of the 2015 parliamentary primaries within one week of the annulment of Dr. Zanetor’s election

d. Any other Order(s) as the court may deem it

e. Cost including legal fees.

On April 29 2016, Zanetor Rawlings who had previously denied the claim in court that she was not a registered voter, and who had been contradicted by statements from the Electoral Commission confirming the absence of her name in the 2012 voters register, displayed her newly acquired VOTER ID CARD on social media after taking advantage of the EC’s ten-day limited registration exercise.

A ruling by the Supreme Court will either end the case by granting the reliefs sought by Dr.Zanetor Rawlings or allow the substantive case in the high court to continue by throwing out the instant application filed by the beleaguered parliamentary candidate – elect. If Zanetor’s application is dismissed by the Supreme Court in a majority decision, it may as well be the end of the political road in 2016 for the daughter of the former President in her quest to enter parliament.

General Views on Panel of Judges Sitting on Case

There is seems to be a general anxiety as to which direction the supreme Court is likely to tilt in this protracted legal matter. It is very difficult to see how a justice of the high court will be deemed to have ‘erred in law’ by the Superior Court even though it is possible especially in an unprecedented case such as this one.

WILLIAM ATUGUBA JSC
He was appointed by former President Rawlings and father of Zanetor Rawlings to the Supreme Court before May 1998. Issues of election disputes are not new to him. He was the President of the eminent panel of Supreme Court judges who sat on the famous election petition of 2012 in Ghana between the NPP vrs EC/President John Mahama. Depending on where one sits, he is both praised and criticised for his rulings on these matters. It will therefore be interesting to know where he stands with the law in this case.

ANIN YEBOAH JSC
He was appointed by former President J.A Kufuor since June 2008. He was also part of the eminent panel who sat on the 2012 election petition in Ghana. His famous stands on the pink sheets saga in the election petition of 2012 have been severally quoted thus, ‘I am of the opinion that no matter the number of votes involved that may constitute over-voting; it is a clear illegality and should not be endorsed by a court of law, more so by the highest court of the land. I will therefore proceed to annul all votes which were proved by the petitioners to be so’. Surely he is a principled man versed with the electoral laws of Ghana. Where will he stand on this particular case?

ANTHONY BENIN JSC
He was appointed justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana by President John Dramani Mahama in November 2012. His rulings on electoral matters are not well known. However, he has presided in cases of the ECOWAS court. It is therefore unclear how he thinks about our electoral laws. It will therefore be interesting to read his ruling on this case.

GABRIEL PWAMANG JSC
He was appointed by President John DramaniMahama to the Supreme Court in May 2015. Before that he was in private legal practice. He was also once the general secretary of the Peoples National Convention (PNC) party. This makes him very practically conversant with how parliamentary primaries are run and the laws and guidelines that enable such political party primaries. It will therefore be interesting to know what views he holds on this particular case and which side of the law he will take.

YAW APAU JSC

Prior to Justice Yaw Apau’s appointment to the Supreme Court by President Mahama in May 2015, he was the Sole Commissioner of the Judgment Debt Commission.President Mahama on October 8, 2012 swore in Justice Appau to thoroughly investigate the judgment debts, procedures for negotiations, contracts, and execution, monitoring and resolve disputes as well.
He was expected to make recommendations to prevent unnecessary judgement debt payments to individuals and companies which cost the country millions of Ghana Cedis. Since his views on electoral matters are unknown, his stands on this case will be keenly followed.

 
Source: Mac-Jordan Agbovi
[email protected]

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