The Supreme Court, has by a unanimous decision, dismissed an application by lawyers for former President John Dramani Mahama for leave to serve interrogatories for certain answers from the Electoral Commission (EC) with regard to the presidential election petition.
Mr Mahama’s lawyers were seeking permission from the Supreme Court to allow him ask 12 questions that borders on how the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, arrived at the figures she used in declaring President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the winner of the 2020 presidential poll.
It was one of two legal processes the petitioner was expected to file on Monday. The second process was a request to admit facts, wherein the petitioner wants the EC to either admit or deny certain “facts” with regard to what ensued on December 9, 2020; the day Mrs Mensa, who is the returning officer for the presidential poll, declared Akufo-Addo as the President-elect.
Moving the motion, lead counsel for Mr Mahama, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata argued that the objective of the application was to “narrow down” the issues for the trial.
Dismissal of Application (Strictly Bound To Comply With C.I. 90)
But the seven-member panel of the court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah dismissed the application with the view that the crucial issues of relevance had not been established by the petitioner.
The court explained that “reference was made to the 2013 [presidential election] petition in which inter-locutories was granted by the Court.
“However, subsequent to 2013, several statutory amendments have been made by C.I. 99 of 2016 which has restricted the practice and procedure of this court as regards Election Petition.
“Indeed, Rule 69 of the Supreme Court amendment in C.I. 99 directed the expeditious disposal of petitions and sets timeliness for this court to dispose off the petition.”
“It implies that even amendments brought here and granted as well as…, subsequent statutory amendments pointed out after the 2013 [presidential election petition], has provided us with new procedural regime and strict timelines.”
“We are strictly bound to comply with C.I. 90 and therefore we will not apply Order 22 of C.I. 45 of 2004 in this circumstances.”
“We accordingly refuse to grant the application and same is accordingly dismissed,” the court said.
Not Ready To File Issues Yet
Minutes after that decision, the petitioner’s lead counsel requested to have a copy of the ruling to “advise appropriately”. He added that he was not ready to file his issues until that is done, since the court had earlier proceeded to ask the lawyers of all three parties on the approach they wanted to use in presenting the issues that are to be laid down for determination.
The filing of issues essentially serves as a guide to the court on what is up for adjudication in the case before the apex court.
Addressing the court, Tsikata indicated that he will require a careful look at the ruling of the Supreme Court with regard to his earlier application seeking an order of the court to direct the Electoral Commission chairperson, Jean Mensa, to provide answers to some 12 questions they have identified, in order to advise himself appropriately.
Exchange Bewtween Tsatsu & Judge Over Jean Mean
Prior to the apex court’s ruling on the application for leave to serve interrogatories, Lawyer Tsikata’s constant reference to the Chairperson of Electoral Commission rather than the office that conducted the polls, appeared not to have gone down well with one member of the panel; Justice Nene Amegatcher.
The Supreme court judge insisted that the questions should be directed to the office of the Chairperson and not come across as a personal attack on Jean Mensa.
Tsatsu Tsikata (TT): This is a question only one person in this world can answer
Justice Nene Amegatcher (JNA): Why wouldn’t you limit your references to the office rather than the personality. It seems to me that your attack is with the personality and not the office…We will be happy if you just limit it to the office and not the EC because in her absence any of her deputies could step in.
TT: Respectfully my lord, there is only one Returning Officer for the presidential election and that is the EC chairperson.
JNA: let’s leave it at that, chairperson of the Electoral Commission and not her person
TT: But my Lord, she is the Chairperson and she has a name, or I am not allowed to mention the name of the Chairperson
JNA: The question should be to the office
TT: I want to understand I am being prohibited from mentioning the name of the Chairperson, is that the issue?
JNA: Reading through your petition which makes constant emphasis on the name, what I am telling you is that we will be satisfied with the designation because in her absence any of her deputies could act in that position
TT: My Lord…
JNA: So, it is an election petition and you are challenging the election, it is sufficient that the institution charged with the conducting that election had done their work and the Chairperson who is the head represent that institution and not the personality
TT: With the greatest respect, I believe that the constitutional requirement regarding the returning officer and the particular circumstances do not make it possible step in for the Chairperson, it cannot be like you are envisaging.
JNA: The institution had done the work and not the personality
TT: The particular circumstances that we are dealing with in this case, do not make it possible to have the situation that you are envisaging where you have somebody else step in for the Chairperson.
The constitution makes the Chairperson and only that person the Returning Officer and in the circumstances of this case that Chairperson happens to be the person we referred to in the petition who undertook her responsibility in accordance with the constitution and legal situation that we have. I am not mentioning her name by targeting her individual…that is far from it. I do not target her when I mention her name as the person who declared the results, that is a fact.
JNA: Thank you, you may continue with your interrogatories.
The former President is currently at the Supreme court challenging the verdict of the 2020 elections which declared Nana Akufo-Addo as President.
The EC declared President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) the winner of the 2020 polls, however, Mr Mahama disagrees with the figures put out by the Chair of the Commission.
John Mahama, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Presidential Candidate is therefore seeking a rerun of the election because he believes no candidate won the polls.
The Supreme Court is expected to conduct a pre-trial conference for parties in the 2020 election petition case.
This is to assist the court and parties organize the proceedings in a manner that will be convenient and also set down the issues for the trial.
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