The Supreme Court Of Ghana Dismisses John Mahama’s Application Which Sought 12 Answers From The Electoral Commission
The Supreme Court has dismissed the application by the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2020 election petition, which sought to ask it to grant leave for the Electoral Commission to answer 12 questions regarding the declaration of the presidential election results. Former President John Dramani Mahama, had filedtwolegalprocessesattheSupremeCourt on Monday but at the court’s sitting Tuesday, the application for 12 interrogatories was dismissed. The application which was filed Monday Jan 18, 2021 was moved by counsel for Mr Mahama, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata at the Supreme Court Tuesday morning. The court had initially planned to move into the pre-trial issues of case management in the petition so as to determine the common grounds for the case to proceed. But that was overtaken by the application which was to be determined. Mr. Tsikata while moving the motion on Tuesday argued that the objective of the application was to “narrow down” the issues for the trial. However, a 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 an application for interrogatories was granted by the Supreme 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 directs 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 [court] 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 had earlier planned to move into the case management stage of the petition Tuesday morning [Jan 19] before the new application came about and so after the ruling, the court wanted to move into that matter. But when the court asked to hear from the parties on their consensus on issues to be set out so that the court can give consequential orders to move into the trial stage, counsel for the petitioner, Mr Tsikata rose to his feet and demanded a certified true copy of the ruling to inform the petitioner on the next line of action to take. Mr Tsikata insisted: “My Lord before we get into that, I may say that we will urgently require a certified true copy of the ruling that you have just given so that we can advise ourselves in respect of that. And if we can have it by the end of the day, that will assist in the further processes that will take place. Secondly my Lord, as I indicated in the beginning, we have sought to admit a request to admit facts… and a request to inspect documents.” Also, Mr Tsikata said with the request to admit facts, which comes under a process of discovery under C.I. 47, the petitioner has a clear understanding that will take about three days to admit facts, which he acknowledged is not an application before the court, however he said that will affect whatever other steps being taken in respect of the case and that will also guide the petitioner in his recommendations for the case management. He also added that there was need to “as fairly normal, we are quite happy to set down the issues that are arising from the petition and the respective answers and put that forward so that it is considered by counsel. I do not think that it is a process that is easily done just on one sit in a courtroom to try to determine what the issues are. I think a normal process is perhaps for us, as petitioners to put forward issues and we are happy to undertake that with as much expedition as is consistent with the interest of justice.”
The Lead Counsel for the 2nd respondent (Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo), Mr Akoto Ampaw prayed the court to move on with the case management stage arguing that counsel (Mr Tsikata) ought to have been prepared for that. According to him, “Today was set up for case management and all lawyers know that case management involves determining the issues for trial and all of us should have been prepared for that. It is not acceptable that any counsel may suggest that when a date has been fixed for case management, especially in the circumstances of this proceedings where expedition is very paramount,”But the court said the case management plan was overtaken by events with the application which had to be determined. The court adjourned the case to Wednesday Jan 20, 2021 for the parties to file the issues by 9:30am on Wednesday for the case to proceed on a common ground.
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