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Election petition: I’m not ready to file my issues, Tsatsu tells Supreme Court

John Mahama’s lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata says he is not ready to file his issues, which will essentially serve as a guide to the court

Tsatsu Tsikata, the lead lawyer for John Dramani Mahama in his 2020 election petition, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that he was not ready to file his issues.

The filing of issues essentially serves as a guide to the court on what is on the table for adjudication in a case.

Addressing the seven-member Supreme Court panel, presided over by Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, Tsikata said that he will require a careful look at the ruling by the Supreme Court with regard to his earlier application, argued before the court today (Tuesday 19 January).

In this application, Tsikata sought an order of the court to direct the chair of the Electoral Commission, Jean Mensa, to provide answers to some ten questions Mahama’s lawyers have identified. Tsikata said he would have to reflect on the court’s response so that he can advise himself appropriately.

Motion for interlocutories

When proceedings started in court today, the former president’s lawyer moved a motion praying the court for leave to serve certain questions on the Electoral Commission (an application for interlocutories). He argued that these questions, if answered, would narrow down the issues before the court.

Mahama, who is challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election, wanted the EC to answer among other things, questions relating to processes involved in the transmission of results from polling station level to constituency level, then to EC regional offices, and subsequently to the returning officer for the presidential election, Jean Mensa.

He is also seeking 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 EC’s national headquarters.

EC opposes application

Responding through its lawyer, Justin Amenuvor, the Electoral Commission opposed the application.

It urged the court not to grant the application because, counsel for the EC argued, it does not raise any relevant issues that are in contention.

Amenuvor argued that the answers being sought for are already contained in the petition and the responses of the respondents.

Ruling

The court ruled that the petitioner’s application for interlocutories was not grounded in law.

The judges said that the application contravened the rules governing adjudication of the election petition, which is the main issue before the court.

“The application is hereby dismissed,” the Chief Justice ruled.

Filing of issues

After the ruling by the court, the judges proceeded to question the lawyers of all three parties in the case as to the approach they wish to use to present the matters that are to be presented for determination.

Tsatsu, for his part, prayed the court to permit his side to file its issues on Thursday 21 January 2021, instead of the suggested date and time (9am on Wednesday 20 January 2021). Amenuvor, as lead lawyer for the EC (the first respondent in the case), told the court that he was ready to go by its direction.

Akoto Ampaw, the lead counsel for Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (the second respondent), expressed surprise at the request by the petitioner’s lawyer for more time to file his issues. He noted that during the 2012/2013 petition, the parties set down the issues for determination orally in court and said that he is ready to do same in the current case.

After hearing the lawyers for all three sides, the court ruled that they should file their issues at the Supreme Court Registry by 9am on 20 January 2021. The court further ruled that it will then reconstitute the same day for the case to take its natural course.

Wilberforce Asare

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