The action in the courtrooms has been quite exciting today. In fact, it seemed like a football match. And so far, the NPP and the NDC have scored one apiece.
First to concede a ‘goal’ was the NPP. An Accra High Court ruled that the party’s MP for Bawku Central, Adamu Dramani, is not qualified to occupy the seat. The case was brought against the MP by a cattle herdsman – who speaks very good English and seems to know his rights quite well.
The herdsman argued in court that at the time he filed his nomination papers to contest the Bawku Central seat, Mr. Dramani was holding dual British and Ghanaian citizenship and therefore he should not have been allowed to run. The court agreed with him and ruled that Mr. Dramani is disqualified to be MP.
The news must gladden the heart of presidential spokesperson, Mahama Ayariga, from who Mr. Dramani wrestled the Bawku Central seat.
Ayariga seems to know quite a lot more about this case than he cares to admit publicly. When the herdsman initiated this case, it was Ayariga who distributed copies of the writ among some journalists. If he wasn’t away on official assignment in Egypt – attending the useless NAM summit with his boss – he might have issued a statement gleefully announcing the court’s verdict. Mr. Ayariga and the NDC must see this as a chance to recapture that seat and boost their parliamentary majority – even though Mr. Dramani has made it clear that he will appeal against the court’s ruling.
Moments after the high court’s decision on Bawku Central, the Supreme Court handed down what essentially is a legal victory, which might result in an electoral triumph for the NPP in Akwatia.
That constituency doesn’t have a representative in parliament because of the electoral dispute between Baba Jamal, deputy Eastern Regional Minister and Dr. Kofi Asare of the NPP. The dispute stems from the violent seizure of some parliamentary ballot boxes from six polling centres during the polls in December. The Electoral Commission has counted all the remaining boxes and the NPP seemed quite content and willing to go with the EC’s plans to re-run the polls in the six centres where there was trouble.
But Baba Jamal, quite unreasonably, disagreed, demanding the poll should be re-run in the entire constituency. A court in Koforidua ruled for in his favour but Dr. Asare filed for a challenge at the Supreme Court.
Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Dr. Asare (and the EC’s as well). So the Akwatia parliamentary polls will be re-run in six polling stations. Thereafter the ballots will be added to what has already been counted and a winner will be declared.
It’s very likely Baba Jamal will lose. The results from the six polling stations will make very little difference to the figures the EC already has. A constituency-wide re-run might have favoured Baba Jamal because his party is in power – and it’s easy for a ruling party to win such an election. Baba Jamal is not happy and he will be best advised to be content with his position as deputy regional minister. He can ‘chop’ there as well. The downside, though, is that he cannot get a 50,000-dollar loan.
The situation in Bawku Central is not as clear-cut. The sitting MP is determined to challenge the ruling that he’s not qualified to be an MP. It’s going to be a long legal battle – which might eventually end up at the Supreme Court – unless the herdsman gives up. But as long as Ayariga remains interested in that seat, he (the herdsman) will keep on keeping on. If the matter is resolved in good time and the MP loses his appeal, there will be a by-election in Bawku Central. Ayariga – who is already campaigning with the tractors he recently acquired – will most likely recapture the seat. By that time, Akwatia would have been decided. And the scores will most probably be as they are today: NPP-1, NDC-1.
That’s politics. That’s life. Win some, lose some! Cry a little, laugh a little.