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Supreme Court to Mahama: File witness statement else we’ll throw out election petition

The apex court has given John Mahama's lawyers up to Wednesday 27 January 2021 to file their witness statements else the election petition will be struck out

The Supreme Court has threatened to invoke its powers including throwing out the 2020 election petition by former President John Mahama if the petitioner’s lawyers fail to file their witness statements.

The seven-member panel hearing the election petition has given lawyers of the petitioner (Mahama) by close of Wednesday 27 January 2021 to file their witness statements else it will be compelled to invoke its powers.

Mahama’s lawyers failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s initial orders to file statements of five witnesses on 21 January 2021. Instead, he filed an application seeking to stay proceedings at the Supreme Court until his application for review of the Supreme Court’s decision on an earlier application for interrogatories has been heard.

The first respondent (the EC) filed one witness statement in support of its case. The witness is the EC chair, Jean Mensa. The second respondent, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, by a power of attorney dated 15 January 2021 appointing Peter Mac Manu to testify on his behalf, has also filed one witness statement.

On Tuesday (26 January) the Supreme Court did not take kindly to the petitioner’s disregard to its orders, serving notice it will be compelled to crack the whip if the petitioner returns to court on Thursday without filing his witness statement.

The rules

According to the Supreme Court, it relied solely on rule 69 (4B) of the Constitutional Instrument (C. I. 99) which states, “the Court may (a) dismiss the petition, where the petitioner fails to file the processes regarding the petition within the specified time; or (b) hear and determine the petition, where the respondents fail to file their answers or the processes regarding their answer within the specified time.”

To this end, the Presiding Judge, Chief Justice Anin Yeboah, cautioned the Petitioner and his lawyers that should they fail to comply with the second window of opportunity they had been given, the court would employ fully the dictates of rule 69 (4B), which will mean, their petition will be dismissed.

The case has been adjourned to Thursday 28 January 2021.

Background

The presidential candidate for the National Democratic Congress in the 2020 general election, John Dramani Mahama, officially filed a petition at the Supreme Court on 30 December 2020 to challenge the 7 December presidential election result.

A statement from the NDC after the filing said: “The National Democratic Congress wishes to inform the general public that at about 12pm this afternoon [sic], the leader and presidential candidate of the party, H E John Dramani Mahama, caused his lawyers to file a petition in the Supreme Court of Ghana to challenge the 2020 presidential election results declaration by the chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.”

It added: “The petition was filed pursuant to the party‘s audit of the 2020 presidential results and extensive consultations with the National Executive Committee and Council of Elders of the party.”

According to the NDC, the petition details grave violations of the 1992 constitution by the Electoral Commission and its chairperson/returning officer for the presidential election, Jean Adukwei Mensa, in carrying out their constitutional and legal responsibilities.

It seeks, among other things, a declaration from the Supreme Court to the effect that the purported declaration of the results of the 2020 presidential election on 9 December 2020 is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

On 9 December 2020 Jean Mensa declared President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo the president-elect, announcing that he had secured 51.3% of the valid votes cast. The result of the presidential election has since been gazetted. The NDC, however, says it cannot accept the result because it is “flawed”.

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