Mahama/NDC 1m Ballot Papers Dubious – AG

Godfred Yeboah Dame

The Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has described as ‘dubious’ the recent petition by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to the Ghana Police Service to investigate the party’s allegation of the printing of one million ballot papers by the Electoral Commission (EC) in the last general election.

According to him, the Supreme Court has already dealt with the issue of unfairness, bordering on allegations of wrong aggregation of votes and votes padding during the 2020 election and the opposition cannot reinvent the wheel.

He said “election results are not challenged at the police station, but at the Supreme Court. It shows they are not serious. They just want to throw dust into the eyes of their supporters.”

Blistering Attack

Former President John Mahama during one of his ‘Thank You’ tours recently attacked EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa, claiming the commission supervised the stealing of one million votes for the ruling NPP in the 2020 general election.

“More than one million extra ballot papers were printed, which the EC claimed happened by mistake but on the day of the elections, some of the more than one million extra ballot papers had already been secretly thumb-printed in favour of the NPP,” Mr. Mahama claimed even though when he got the opportunity to challenge the results declaration, he did not include such allegations in his petition.

His party, NDC, through its General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia then sent a petition to the Ghana Police Service to probe the one million votes claim after the EC had thrown an open invitation to the police to look into the former President’s claims.

Even at a time when his party is petitioning the police to probe the supposed incident, Mr. Mahama has turned around to say that he wanted the ECOWAS Commission to rather undertake the investigation and not the Ghana Police Service because he did not trust the police.

Speaking at the opening of the Commonwealth Election Professionals (CEP) Initiative’s Africa Region Training Workshop being held in Accra yesterday, Mr. Dame said Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) in 2020 “delivered an internationally affirmed free, fair and perhaps the most transparent election since the inception of the constitution in 1992.”

“Such was the credibility of the election that the complaint of unfairness made by a losing candidate in the Supreme Court, bordering on allegations of what they described as wrong aggregation of votes and votes padding, was dismissed.”

He continued, “Even though subsequently proven to be untrue, collectively involved a merger of 6,622 votes – an amount patently insignificant to materially affect the outcome of the election in which the winner won by way over 500,000 votes.

“I understand now that rather strangely they have petitioned the Ghana Police Service, claiming, many months after losing the election petition, that over one million votes are now involved in their allegations of wrong aggregation of votes, unaccounted for votes.

“The Supreme Court has dealt with this matter, and this latest allegation is baseless with dubious intention.”

Democratic Order

He stated that “what is fundamental to existence to any democratic order and preservation of rule of law was done by the EC, which is legally clothed with the sacred duty of organising elections, by holding elections even under trying conditions such as like COVID-19 pandemic.”

“I am happy to say that the Electoral Commission of Ghana clearly has a sound appreciation of this sacred constitutional responsibility it bears the people of Ghana. As the record reflects, it remains unshaken in its quest to give to the people of Ghana an opportunity to select their own leadership for the nation,” he noted.

He added, “When they had the chance to do so in the year 2020, it rose to the occasion and delivered an internationally affirmed free, fair and perhaps the most transparent election since the inception of the constitution in 1992.”

EC’s Mandate

Mr. Dame indicated that the centrality of relation to democracy and by necessary implication the rule of law implies that irrespective of the circumstance, the Electoral Commission in any nation must live up to its constitutional mandate of organising elections for the citizenry to express themselves, except unavoidable circumstances rendered it impossible.

The workshop, which was organised by the Commonwealth Election Professionals (CEP) initiative, was attended by 18 officials drawn from 15 Regional Election Management Bodies (REMB) in Commonwealth countries in Africa, including Nigeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Malawi.

It was held on the theme: “Credible and inclusive election in the era of COVID-19: Building Trust, Public Trust and Confidence throughout the Electoral Circle.”

Deputy Chairman of EC, Samuel Tettey said the CEP provides professional development opportunities to Commonwealth Election Officials through Regional Capacity Building events, which are organised in collaboration with the Election Management Body (EMB) of the host country, which in this instance is the Electoral Commission of Ghana.

He explained that the training programme for each Commonwealth Election Professionals (CCEP) capacity-building event is tailored to address regional needs and priorities and in addition to support Commonwealth Election Management Bodies (CEMBs) in delivering more credible, inclusive and transparent electoral processes and elections.

Mr. Tettey encouraged participants to share their national experiences and strategies developed to mitigate issues and challenges encountered.

He said the workshop would address the critical electoral issues, including how elections should be held in a COVID-19 environment, how EMBs ensure no one is left out, how to safeguard the integrity of the process to sustain the trust and confidence of electorates and stakeholders as well as how EMBs can ensure the integrity of the process and at the same time the health safety of voters and candidates, among others.

“In sum, the COVID-19 pandemic dislocated numerous election programmes in 2020 and 2021, and Ghana was not an exception as the 7th December, 2020 general election was held amid COVID-19 pandemic,” he indicated.

The Political Officer of Commonwealth Secretariat, Lindiwe Maleleka said Ghana is a trailblazer in the organisation of elections in trying conditions.

She also touted the 2020 general election as credible and transparent, while pointing to the report of international observers, intimating that the EC also protected the health and safety of voters and upheld the people’s democratic right.

By Ernest Kofi Adu