Election 2020 is over, but the legal battles surrounding the parliamentary election have just begun. The two major political parties — the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) — have crossed swords in courtrooms across the country in a bid to increase their seats in Parliament.
So far, 16 parliamentary election petitions have been filed at various High courts — eight against elected NPP MPs and eight against NDC MPs. The NDC constituencies in dispute are Buem, Kintampo North, Savelugu, Pusiga, Jomoro, Assin North, Banda and Krachi West.
With regard to the NPP, the seats in contention are Techiman South, Hohoe, Tano South, Tarkwa Nsuaem, Essikado Ketan, Tema West, Zabzugu and Sefwi Wiawso. Twelve of the petitions — Techiman South, Savelugu, Pusiga, Banda, Jomoro, Krachi West, Tano South, Tarkwa Nsuaem, Essikado Ketan, Tema West, Zabzugu and Sefwi Wiawso — are on alleged electoral malpractices.
Two — Kintampo North and Assin North — relate to the eligibility of the elected MPs, while the remaining two — Hohoe and Buem — have to do with a decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) not to allow the people of Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe and Lolobi (SALL) to vote in the parliamentary election.
The NDC MP for Kintampo North, Mr Joseph Kwame Kumah, secured 33,460 votes to defeat the NPP candidate, Mr Michael Sarkodie Baffoe, who got 16,499 votes. In a petition filed at the Sunyani High Court on January 11, 2021, Mr Baffoe contended that Mr Kumah was not eligible to be MP.
He accused the MP of being part of the “Ghost name” scandal that rocked the National Service Scheme (NSS) in 2015. According to the petitioner, Mr Kumah was a District Director of the NSS in Nanumba North who was sacked after allegedly defrauding the state of GH₵95,413.20 as part of the “Ghost name” scandal.
The petitioner further contended that as a result of the scandal, in 2015 a committee of enquiry found Mr Kumah ‘incompetent’ to hold public office. It was the case of Mr Baffoe that the adverse findings by the committee had not been set aside by any court and, therefore, Mr Kumah was not eligible to be a legislator, as stipulated in Article 94 (2) (d) of the 1992 Constitution.
Also, he argued that as a result of the adverse findings, Mr Kumah was barred for 10 years from becoming an MP, as stipulated in Article 94 (5) of the Constitution.
“The net effect of the second respondent (Mr Kumah) filing and contesting the parliamentary election when he was not disqualified by the supreme law of Ghana is that he was not a candidate at all, and by virtue of that his election is null and void and of no effect,” Mr Baffoe argued.
The NPP candidate, therefore, wants the court to declare Mr Kumah as not the validly elected MP for Kintampo North by virtue of his alleged ineligibility.
The petition challenging the election of the NPP MP for Techiman South, Mr Martin Kwaku Adjei-Mensah Korsah, was filed by the NDC candidate for the constituency, Mr Christopher Beyere Baasongti, at the Wenchi High Court. Mr Baasongti argued that per the votes counted at all the polling stations in Techiman South, he (Baasongti) should have been declared the MP-elect.
“That per the pink sheets the petitioner got from his polling agents at each of the 267 polling stations, the petitioner (Baasongti) garnered 50,306 votes in the parliamentary election, while the first respondent (Korsah) got 50,013 votes,” he argued.
The NDC candidate contended that apart from getting the highest number of votes, there was no collation of the results, as required by Regulation 43 of the Public Elections Regulations, 2020 (C.I. 127), but the EC’s returning officer ended up declaring Mr Korsah the winner.
“Up to the date of the filling of the instant election petition, neither the petitioner nor any of his representatives has been invited by the second respondent (EC) or its agents for the collation of the parliamentary results of the Techiman South Constituency,” Mr Baasongti argued.
Among other reliefs, the petitioner is seeking an order from the court directed at the EC to collate the results of all the polling stations in Techiman South and also for the EC to publicly declare him as the winner of the 2020 parliamentary election in the constituency.
Hohoe is in the Volta Region and Buem is in the Oti Region, but the petitions challenging the parliamentary election in the two constituencies are intrinsically linked. This is also against the backdrop that the elected MP for Hohoe is NPP’s Mr John-Peter Amewu, while that for Buem is the NDC’s Mr Kofi Adams.
The common theme running through the two petitions has to do with the decision of the EC not to allow the people of SALL, which used to be part of the Hohoe Constituency but is now in the Oti Region, to vote in the 2020 parliamentary election.
The petition challenging Mr Amewu’s election was filed at the Ho High Court by five persons, who include the NDC candidate for Hohoe, Prof. Margaret Kweku. It was the case of the applicants that Prof. Kweku had strong support from the SALL areas and, therefore, the decision by the EC not to allow the people of SALL to vote was taken in “bad faith”.
“The said decision of first respondent (EC), which was implemented in the conduct of the parliamentary election on December 7, 2020, was designed to be to the benefit of the 2nd respondent (Amewu), who has his stronghold in other areas of the constituency,” the petition stated.
Among other reliefs, the petitioners want the court to set aside the results of the Hohoe parliamentary election and order the EC to conduct another election to include the people of SALL.
With regard to the petition against Mr Adams, the 13 petitioners, who are also from the SALL area, argued that SALL should have been part of Buem and, therefore, the EC’s decision not to allow the people of SALL to vote in the parliamentary election rendered the parliamentary election in Buem null and void.
They are, therefore, seeking a declaration from the court cancelling the parliamentary election in Buem and an order directed at the EC to conduct another election, which should include the people of SALL.
The Savelugu election petition was filed by the NPP candidate, Mr Muhammed Abdul-Samed Gunu, against the NDC MP for the constituency, Mr Abdulai Jacob Iddriss, and the EC. Mr Gunu garnered 19,478 votes, while Mr Iddriss got 19,577. The petitioner argued that the election was marred by “gross and widespread electoral malpractices”, such as over-voting and ballot stuffing.
“The results, as declared and recorded by the first respondent (EC), contained widespread incidents where total votes cast at several polling stations exceeded the total number of ballots issued to voters at the polling stations,” he said.
It is the contention of the NPP candidate that had it not been for the alleged malpractices, he would have won the election. He is, therefore, seeking an order from the Tamale High Court that Mr Iddriss is not the validly elected MP for Savelugu, and that he (Mr Gunu) is rather the validly elected MP.
In Assin North, the NDC MP, Mr James Gyakye Quayson, polled 17,498 votes, against 14,793 by the NPP’s Ms Abena Durowaa Mensah. On December 30, 2020, Mr Michael Ankomah-Nimfah, a resident of Assin Bereku in the Assin North Constituency, filed the petition at the Cape Coast High Court.
He contended that Mr Quayson was not eligible to be an MP on the basis that at the time he filed his nomination to contest as a parliamentary candidate, he was still a citizen of Canada. Such an act, he argued, was against the express provision of Article 94 (2) (a) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 9(2) of the Representation of the People Act 1992 (PNDCL 284).
Among other reliefs, the petitioner is seeking an order restraining Mr Quayson from holding himself as the MP-elect for Assin North and another order cancelling the parliamentary election that took place in Assin North on December 7, 2020.