The Supreme Court has set out five issues for determination in the presidential election petition filed by the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2020 elections, Mr John Dramani Mahama.
In addition, the apex court has set timelines to guide the hearing of the petition.
The issues include whether or not the petition discloses any cause of action; whether or not, based on the data contained in the declaration of the second respondent (President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo) as President-elect, no candidate obtained more than 50 per cent of the valid votes cast, as required by Article 63 (3) of the 1992 Constitution; whether or not the second respondent still met the Article 63(3) of the1992 Constitution threshold by the exclusion or inclusion of the Techiman South Constituency presidential election results.
The rest are whether or not the declaration by the first respondent (Electoral Commission) on December 9, 2020 of the results of the presidential election conducted on December 7, 2020, was in violation of Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution, and whether or not the alleged vote padding and other errors complained of by the petitioner affected the outcome of the presidential election results of 2020.
The determination of the five issues by the court will enable it to come to a conclusion as to whether or not the petition has any merit.
The former President is challenging the declaration of President Akufo-Addo as the winner of the 2020 presidential election at the apex court.
Yesterday, the seven-member panel of the court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, also set timelines to hear the petition and the mode of trial.
Other members of the panel are Justices Yaw Appau, Samuel K. Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher, Prof. Nii Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu and Gertrude Torkornoo.
When the case was called yesterday, the lead counsel for the petitioner, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, was not in the courtroom.
After counsel for the first respondent (Electoral Commission) and the second respondent (President Akufo-Addo) had announced their appearance, the Chief Justice enquired from the General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, who represented former President Mahama, why Mr Tsikata was absent.
Mr Nketia responded that Mr Tsikata was at the court registry.
Shortly, Mr Tsikata entered the courtroom and informed the justices that he had filed a review for the court’s ruling dismissing the application for interrogatories by the petitioner last Tuesday.
The application for interrogatories had sought to ask the court to grant leave for the EC to answer 12 questions regarding the declaration of the presidential election results.
Hearing of the review was fixed for January 28, 2021, and the implication is that two additional justices of the Supreme Court would have to be empanelled to hear the review.
After taking a recess, which lasted about an hour, the court came up with the five issues for determination, timelines and the mode of trial.
The timelines, as outlined by the panel, are as follows: the petitioner and witnesses shall file witness statements with exhibits, if any, by noon of Thursday, January 21, 2020; the witness statement shall be served on counsel for the respondents by the close of Thursday, January 21; the respondents and their witnesses, if any, shall file their witness statements with exhibits, if any, by the close of the day on Friday, January 22, 2021; the first and second respondents shall file submissions on the preliminary objections raised to the petition by 12 noon of Friday, while the registrar of the court shall ensure service of submission by close of the same day.
In addition, the petitioner shall file any response to the submission of the preliminary objection by Monday, January 25, while the registrar shall also ensure service of the petitioner’s response by close of Monday, January 25.
The court also said its ruling on the preliminary objection would be incorporated into the final judgment of the court.
Just after the Chief Justice had finished with his delivery, Mr Tsikata rose on his feet to express displeasure at the timelines.
He explained that the timelines could have consequences on the motion for a review of the court’s ruling on the application for interrogatories, among other outstanding issues.
However, a member of the panel, Justice Prof. Kotey, said the court was operating under the strict timelines of C.I. 99.
The hearing continues on Tuesday, January, 26.
Mr Mahama posits in his petition that no candidate won the 2020 presidential election and, therefore, the declaration of President Akufo-Addo as the winner of the election by the Chairperson of the EC was “null, void, unconstitutional and of no legal effect”.
He argued that as per the results announced by Mrs Jean Mensa on December 9, 2020, no candidate garnered more than 50 per cent of the total valid votes cast, as required by Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution.
The petitioner is, therefore, asking the Supreme Court to order the EC to organise a second election (run-off) between him and President Akufo-Addo because, in his estimation, no candidate won the 2020 presidential election.
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