…As the 9-member panel Supreme Court Justices in the ongoing presidential election petition temporarily retire for the reconsideration of [counter] claims, evidence, the law and the policy
The crux of our sermon is taken from 2 Chronicles 19- Jehoshaphat Appoints Judges. Ever since Justice William Atuguba- the presiding judge of the ongoing presidential election petition, told Africa and the World that “the battle for evidence in this trial is over”, the 2012 pre-elections threats and uncertainties, appear to have resurfaced in Ghana, prompting yet another national “prayer summit” in search of peace as the democratic worlds await the efficacy and the reasonableness of the impending judicial rulings of the 9-member judges of the Supreme Court, sitting on the case.
The court hearing ended on Wednesday, 17th day of July 2012 with the direction that parties to the litigation must file their final addresses with the Supreme Court’s Registry, latest, by July 30, 2013. The court accordingly, adjourned the case to 31 July 2013 by which if an act of God does not fall, a final date- presumably, 15 days from that sitting, shall be scheduled for the long-awaited final cast.
But Justice Atuguba’s “At long last the battle of evidence has ended,” which captured hues and murmurs in the courtroom as Dr Afari-Gyan, is being led off-the-hook of the witness-box, following counsels’ declared foreclosures of the fierce legal tussles, which oscillated around “suspicions of criminality and distrusts”, appears to have sounded like a terrifying big bang.
True, Justice Atuguba seemed to have reemphasised the Holmesian theory of unpredictability of legal dispute- law in textbooks as against law in action or as practised in courtroom, by indicating to the star-witness and Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC)- Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, that telling people to go to court, go to court, in a period of conflict or dispute, as he probably did to the leadership of New Patriotic Party (NPP) just before the declaration of the presidential election verdict of 2012, is not all that simple. Dr Afari-Gyan’s professional and personal credibility and competence seem to have overwhelmingly, dominated the 46-day open-court hearing, initiated by NPP 2012 Presidential Candidate Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo Addo, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia- the NPP vice-presidential candidate and Jake Okanta Obetsebi Lamptey- the party’s national chairman.
In the opinion of JusticeGhana Group, the open-hearing of this petition under consideration ended with mixed-feelings from both sides of the legal-divide and here, in relation to the close-scrutiny of the [in]famous 17 pink sheets which as we saw it, nearly opened healed wounds of “relevance and admissibility”. It might have been against this backdrop that the National Peace Council, National House of Chiefs, Manhyia Palace, the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) and Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) swiftly initiated and yes, organised a summit dubbed: ‘Justice, Peace and Reforms will Strengthen Ghana’, so as to ensure a peaceful national cohesion after the final verdict?
In a speech read on his behalf by Spokesperson Frank Agyekum, Former President J.A. Kufour, who calls on all political parties to educate their supporters on the outcome of the petition, said: “True peace emanates from true justice. Peace will prevail if justice is seen to be manifestly upheld. It is in this vein that I ask all concerned to pray for the justices of the Supreme Court to have the clarity of mind and vision to be bold and fearless in the discharge of their duties which destiny has called upon them to do. This will be the bedrock for the peace that will prevail after the ruling.”
Former President Jerry John Rawlings- a strong believer of justice, probity and accountability, has this to say on the same platform: “At the end of the day our response to the ruling will indicate how mature we are as a people… We cannot afford to fail this test. We will of course also expect our judiciary to deliver a ruling that will inspire the confidence of both the winners and losers and further go to strengthen and protect our political process, national cohesion and self-belief. Justice is perhaps one of the most essential and intrinsic contributions to the internal equilibrium of the soul. There are serious battles ahead of us – corruption, economic battles, the burning down of our markets and crime. Let us get this one out of the way and take on the others. We need to move on.”
Ghana Prays for Truth, Justice and Peace?
Find below our research by Gina A.-Fordjour of the Samaritan Research Group, on what King Jehoshaphat said when he appointed judges for his fortified cities (2 Chronicles 19 v 1-11).
1When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, 2 Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love[a] those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is on you. 3 There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.”
Jehoshaphat Appoints Judges
4 Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim and turned them back to the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
5 He appointed judges in the land, in each of the fortified cities of Judah. 6 He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for mere mortals but for the Lord, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. 7 Now let the fear of the Lord be on you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”
8 In Jerusalem also, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites, priests and heads of Israelite families to administer the law of the Lord and to settle disputes. And they lived in Jerusalem.
9 He gave them these orders: “You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the Lord. 10 In every case that comes before you from your people who live in the cities- whether bloodshed or other concerns of the law, commands, decrees or regulations- you are to warn them not to sin against the Lord; otherwise his wrath will come on you and your people. Do this, and you will not sin.
11 “Amariah the chief priest will be over you in any matter concerning the Lord, and Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the leader of the tribe of Judah, will be over you in any matter concerning the king, and the Levites will serve as officials before you. Act with courage, and may the Lord be with those who do well.”(New International Version (NIV))
The names of the nine-member justices sitting on the ongoing petition and whose verdict we are waiting are as follows: Justices William Atuguba, Julius Ansah, Sophia Agyeibea Adinyira, Jones Dotse, Rose Owusu, Anin Yeboah, Baffoe Bonnie, Sulley Gbedegbe and Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
We at JusticeGhana believe that questions of justice are indeed questions about what people are due and in our contemporary societies, distinguished from religious beliefs or persuasions. But our Justices whom we address “My Lords”, might ponder over the words of King Jehoshaphat *6“Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for mere mortals but for the Lord, who is with you whenever you give a verdict.” So far, they have demonstrated their individual and/or collective independence and discretion and they shall surely search for the facts/issues and apply the relevant laws/rules accordingly, to give the enduring peace that the country years for.