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ELECTION 2020 PETITION: Threshold required to invoke jurisdiction of Supreme Court not met, says Akufo-Addo

The Supreme Court is expected to give its judgement on Thursday 4 March 2021 to bring finality to Election 2020 petition hearing

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 2nd respondent in the ongoing election 2020 petition at the Supreme Court, says the petition filed by John Dramani Mahama, did not meet the threshold established by law for the invocation of the special jurisdiction of the Apex Court of the land with regard to an election petition.

In his 102 page closing address to the Supreme Court filed by his lawyers on the 17 February 2021, President Akufo-Addo submitted that after a careful analysis of the petition and the evidence adduced by the three witnesses of the petitioner namely; Johnson Aseidu Nketia, General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and two other leading members of the party, Michael Kpessa Whyte and Joseph Robert Mettle Nunoo, the case before the Supreme Court fails the test to qualify as a petition.

“We wish to highlight a very important issue that we addressed in the preliminary objection but has become even more pronounced from the trial and goes to the root of the instant suit, it relates to the jurisdiction of this Court to determine the instant petition.

“It is crystal clear, My Lords, that the instant matter does not meet the threshold established by law for the invocation of the special jurisdiction of the Court to entertain an election petition” the 2nd respondent stated at page 22 of his closing address.

“Clearly my Lords, an election petition properly so called, is one which, in all shape and form, relates to an attack on the processes for the conduct of the presidential election itself, as stated. In this matter however, petitioner is only fixated on the final declaration by 1st respondent.

“This Honourable Court in Mettle-Nunoo v. Electoral Commission [2007-2008] 2 SCGLR 1250 at 1258 emphasised this point. In that case, the Plaintiff sought to challenge the declaration of President Kufour as winner of the 2004 Presidential Election on the grounds that the declaration did not include the details of the total valid votes cast in favour of all the candidates from each constituency” the 2nd respondent further stated.

“This Court at page 1258 per Date-Bah JSC said as follows:

“If the plaintiffs were to succeed in their contention on the first issue, although it would result in a declaration which in effect will mean that no president had been declared elected, it will not mean that the election itself of the president was invalid. The underlying election results could still be perfectly valid and the defendant’s (EC) responsibility will be to declare them in the proper form.

“The declaration would mean merely that a President had not yet been properly declared elected, without prejudice to the validity of the substantive election result themselves. In our view therefore the Plaintiffs’ action is not an election petition,” lawyers of President Akufo-Addo added.

The 2nd respondent also indicated that in the instant matter, “it is very clear on the face of the petition and indeed the evidence of Asiedu Nketiah in particular that petitioner is not in court to challenge the validity of the election but rather that the case concerns the performance of the functions of 1st respondent and its chairperson pertaining to the declaration of the presidential elections of December 2020 shows that the petition is not an election petition properly so called”.

The 2nd respondent added, “In fact, from the reliefs of petitioner, he does not contest the propriety of the conduct of the elections hence his call for another election to be held between him and the 2nd respondent as in his view the 2nd respondent did not obtain more than 50% of the total number of valid votes cast as required by article 63 of the Constitution 1992” lawyers of the 2nd Respondent observed in their submission.

“​It is our further submission therefore that the instant petition properly belongs to the class of actions which can best be described as ‘suits challenging the declaration’ rather than the validity of the election itself. A close scrutiny of the facts relied on by petitioner make this more than apparent. Paragraphs 1 through to 30 of the petition merely recount allegations of arithmetical errors contained in parts of the declaration of 2nd respondent as President and the subsequent correction by the 1st respondent on 10/12/20.

“There is no challenge mounted by petitioner about the conduct of the election at the 38,622 polling stations and 311 special voting centres in the country. The Court is invited to hold that no challenge of the conduct of the election is stated from paragraphs 1 through to 30 of petitioner’s petition” the 2nd respondent argued.

The Supreme Court has so far made 17 sittings which began on 14 January 2021 with an application by the petitioner to amend portions of his petition and ended with a ruling on the 22 February 2021 which dismissed a review application by the Petitioner seeking to reopen his case,

The seven-member Supreme Court panel presided over by Chief Justice Anin Yeboah is set to deliver it final judgment on 4 March 2021.

The other Justices who make up the panel are Justices Yaw Appaw, Samuel Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher, Professor Nii Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu and Gertrude Torkonoo.

Wilberforce Asare

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