The second respondent (President Akufo-Addo) in the Election 2020 petition filed at the Supreme Court by the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Mahama, says the application by the petitioner (Mahama), seeking to stop proceedings pending the determination of his application for a review of the dismissal of his interrogatories application, is unmeritorious and clearly a tactic by the petitioner to get the court to breach CI 99.
In an affidavit in opposition, filed on Friday 22 January 2021 in response to the motion for stay of proceedings filed by lawyers of John Mahama on 21 January 2021, the second respondent says there is no merit whatsoever in the application for stay of proceedings.
Akufo-Addo argues that the interrogatories the petitioner sought to serve on the Electoral Commission of Ghana, the first respondent, are either totally irrelevant to the determination of the petition, or have no bearing on issues in dispute arising from the applicant’s (Mahama’s) own pleadings in the petition as filed.
“The interrogatories sought to be served on first respondent are ‘fishing interrogatories’ and the Supreme Court rightly dismissed same. The application for review has absolutely no chance of success and can therefore hardly be a basis for seeking to stay proceedings in this court pending the disposal of same,” says the affidavit in opposition deposed by Kwaku Asirifi, a member of President Akufo-Addo’s legal team.
Click on the link below to read the full text of the affidavit in opposition.
Affidavit in opposition
President Akufo-Addo’s affidavit in opposition further noted that if the petitioner were diligent and not indolent, he should have “filed his unmeritorious request to admit facts and to inspect documents as soon as he was served with Respondents’ answers on 9 January 2021”.
“If the Petitioner had acted as any diligent party would have done, the timelines set under CI 99 would not have been stampeded and pre-trial matters would have been completed latest by 16 January 2021, and even if the court were minded to grant an extra day, hearing of the petition should have commenced on 18 January 2021.
“It is untenable for Petitioner, having filed his petition as far back as 30 December 2020, to claim on 20 January 2021 that he is unable to file witness statements without First Respondent’s response to his request to admit facts, interrogatories and notice to inspect documents. Indeed, the substance of the Petitioner’s witness statements should have been known to him prior to filing the petition,” the second respondent’s affidavit further says.
“In the event, this Honourable Court ought to dismiss the application as unmeritorious and calculated to stall the hearing of a Petition that he himself has initiated,” the deponent of the affidavit concludes.
When proceedings started in court on 19 January 2020, the former president John Mahama’s leading lawyer, Tsatsu Tsikata, moved a motion praying the court for leave to serve certain questions on the Electoral Commission (the application for interrogatories). He claims that these questions, if answered, will narrow down the issues before the court.
In the application ex-president Mahama demanded that the EC answer, among other things, questions relating to processes involved in the transmission of results from the polling station level to the constituency level, from the constituencies to the regional offices of the EC, and subsequently to the returning officer for the presidential election, Jean Mensa, at the EC head office in Accra.
He also sought to solicit responses on whether or not the National Communications Authority in any way facilitated the transmission of results from the various centres to the national headquarters of the EC.
The EC, acting through its lead counsel, Justin Amenuvor, opposed the application, urging the court not to grant the application because it does not raise any relevant matters that are in contention. It was the EC’s case that the answers being sought by the petitioner are already contained in the petitioner’s own petition and the responses of the respondents.
The court, after going on recess for about 45 minutes, reconvened and ruled that the application for interrogatories by the petitioner were not grounded in law. The judges said that the application contravened the rules governing adjudication of the election petition (as laid out in CI 99), which is the main issue before the court.
“The application is hereby dismissed,” the Chief Justice ruled on 19 January 2021.
Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio