Policy Think Tank, IMANI Africa has openly expressed disappointment at the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss an amicus brief filed at the apex court with three others.
They’d prayed the court to provide key information to the panel of Judges adjudicating the consolidated case in which the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and a Ghanaian citizen Mark Takyi Banson is challenging the Electoral Commission (EC)’s decision to exclude the existing voters ID card as a valid prove of identity for the registration of a new voters register.
Vice President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, in a series of facebook posts questioned the reasoning of the Apex court, presided over by Justice, Kwasi Anin Yeboah, who is also the Chief Justice.
In one of such protests, Mr Bentil, whose think tank has publicly challengd the EC’s justifications cutting across, procurement breaches, efficiency of the Biometric Verification Devices, EC’s data base among others over the past six months, said ”For the record, The Supreme Court Justices are the supervisors of this realm. No one may disrespect them, but they can be criticized.”
It further stated :”As a lawyer, a believer in democracy, I am prepared to give my life in obedience of Judges because they can guarantee my freedom to live free. They are the bulwark in defense of our freedoms. I will however respectfully disagree with them, they understand my right to do so.
IMANI Africa’s Vice President, who is also a Lawyer, a Business Strategy Lecturer and Consultant added ”On this occasion, the refusal of IMANI’s Amicus Brief, I disagree with my Lords and believe this decision will be scrutinized and held up as a particularly bad one jurisprudentially.
The CSOs – IMANI Africa, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation and Conservative Policy Research Center – had served notice to volunteer relevant information to the court.
But the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin Yeboah who presided over the hearing on Wednesday, in his ruling before dismissing the case said “The need for an amicus brief is not supported by law”
According to the bench, the amicus brief filed by the think tanks did not necessarily bring anything new to the case and previous utterances in the media landscape by the CSOs suggests that they are supportive of one party in the case and hence cannot be a neutral party.
The bench also wondered why the think tanks had not shown interest in the first writ regarding the NDC vs Attorney General and EC which also sought similar reliefs.
Reacting to the ruling on the high profile case which has generated high public interest, a Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law, Newark, Henry Kwasi Prempeh in a face book post also wrote: ”This is the first time in my life as a Constitutional Law Scholar and lawyer, trained in Anglo Americal legal tradition, that I am learning that in order to be allowed permission to file an amicus curiae, one must be ‘neutral’ or disinterested in the case in question’
Law Professor, H Kwasi Prempeh further stated…”this is the exact opposite of everything I know about amicus briefs’
He added, typically, one who is not otherwise a party to a case before an appellate or apex court must demonstrate a strong ‘interest’ in the matter in order to be allowed the opportunity to submit an amicus brief.
Lawyer Prempeh asked…Why would a person who is disinterested or neutral even bother to file an amicus brief?
“Anyway, this is Ghana, where we dance our own odd and insular beat in these matters. Me Lord’…he concluded.
The Supreme Court decision on the IMANI, ASEPA case has drawn mixed reaction on social media amidst undertainty about the much anticipated ruling on the substantive case between the NDC and the EC.
In response to trolls by NPP activists, a virtually worried Vice President and Deputy Director -Ghana at IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, wrote “And to the trolls, don’t waste your time! You have no idea the stuff we are dealing with”
He asked : ”Can anyone say IMANI’s Amicus Brief was less serious than Amekudji’s? Was Amekudji now favouring one side? So by what stretch of reason did they(Supreme Court in the Election petition Case) did they allow a quixotic effort but refused information from a groupof persons who had stayed with the issue longer than anyone in Ghana and had more information on it than any one or institution?”
Meanwhile, deputy Attorney General, Godfred Dame has stated why government backs the Supreme Court decision.
He wrote : ”An amicus is supposed to argue some new and important legal points of value. I have never seen an amicus brief as hollow as this one. An amicus brief which cites only 2 cases – the Abu Ramadan case and the Election Petition case, which have well been seriously examined in this matter, as well as internet publications from peacefmonline and Ghanaweb!
“How can such an amicus brief be admitted? There was nothing new and of serious value they were bringing on board. Simple!
We should get serious in this country. I like civil society but when such civil society organisations seek to foist their biased and ulterior motivated views on a court, same should be jettisoned.”
Mr Franklyn Cudjoe who spoke to the media shortly after the ruling said although they accept the court’s decision, he was surprised their application for amicus brief was dismissed.
Judgement on the substantive case has been set for tomorrow, Thursday, 25th June 2020.