Lawyers for the first respondent, the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC), and the second respondent, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to the Election 2020 petition filed by the defeated presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, have filed witness statements as directed by the seven-member Supreme Court panel at its sitting on Wednesday 20 January 2021.
The petitioner, who was however directed to file the same for his suggested five witnesses by 12 noon on 21 January 2021, has, as of today (Saturday 23 January 2021) failed to do so. Instead, he has 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.
EC’s witness statement
In her witness statement, the EC chair, Jean Mensa, says: “I say also that in announcing the figures, the total number of votes cast, being 13,434,574, was inadvertently announced as the total valid votes.
“The total valid votes as captured on Form 13 was actually 13,121,111, which represents the total valid votes obtained by all the candidates. Indeed, a tabulation of all valid votes obtained by all 12 candidates as declared by the first respondent on 9 December 2020 and captured on Form 13 adds up to a total of 13,121,111.”
Click on the link to read the full witness statement by the Electoral Commission.
“I say also that Form 13 has the total number of votes cast as 13,434,574. Form 13 was signed by eight (8) agents of the candidates who were present at the time of the completion of the form.
“I say that the inadvertence, which did not affect the constitutional threshold of the candidates, was noticed the next day and corrected through a press release, which is one of the First Respondent’s mediums of communicating with the general public. The said press release was published on the official website and social media pages of the First Respondent and its authenticity has never been denied by First Respondent. Attached and marked Exhibit ‘5’ is a copy of the said press release.
“I say further that the declaration on 9 December 2020 was made without the results from the Techiman South constituency which had a total of 128,018 registered voters.
“This declaration was made on the basis that even if the total votes in the said constituency, being 128,018, were allocated to the candidate with the second highest votes (the Petitioner), it would not change the more than 50% of the valid votes obtained by the Second Respondent. The Second Respondent under that circumstance would have obtained 50.799% of the valid votes.”
According to the EC chairperson, as captured in her witness statement, “The Techiman South constituency presidential election results summary sheet has since been released prior to the institution of the action herein. The Petitioner obtained 52,034 valid votes and the Second Respondent obtained 46,379 valid votes. Attached and marked Exhibit ‘6’ is a copy of the Techiman South constituency presidential election results summary sheet (Form 10).
“I say that the presidential election results summary sheet from the Techiman South constituency has vindicated the mathematics based on which the result was declared on 9 December 2020. When the figures on Form 10 of the Techiman South constituency above are added to the existing votes obtained by the candidates, the Second Respondent obtained 6,776,792 votes while the Petitioner obtained 6,266,923 votes and [that] brings the total valid votes to 13,220,547.
“I say that with these actual figures, the Second Respondent obtained 51.260%, which meets the more than 50% threshold in Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution.”
Concluding her witness statement, Jean Mensa denies “that the First Respondent padded the votes in favour of the Second Respondent as alleged by the Petitioner. I say that the Petitioner is not entitled to the reliefs claimed.”
Peter Mac Manu’s witness statement
In his statement, the witness for the second respondent says: “Even though the Petitioner claims that no candidate obtained more than 50% of the total number of valid votes cast at the election, Petitioner does not state any factual basis for that unfounded claim.
“He does not state the number of valid votes or percentage thereof that he obtained in the election, or the number of votes or percentage thereof that Second Respondent obtained in the election; nor does he state the total number of valid votes cast to support the allegations and request for the so-called ‘second election with Petitioner and Second Respondent as the candidates’.”
Click on the link to read the full witness statement of the second respondent, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
“My Lords, the Petition is largely conjectural and borne out of Petitioner’s unfounded imagination, and also the material facts in the Petition do not support the reliefs sought. Further, Petitioner has mounted his attack on insignificant inaccuracies and slips in the ‘declaration of the results’ of the election, rather than the validity of the election and the actual results thereof. These slips and errors did not affect the outcome of the election, and I say that Second Respondent won the presidential election of 7 December 2020,” the statement argues.
“In sum, Petitioner’s deliberate failure or calculated refusal to recognise these simple, logical and self-evident matters has led Petitioner erroneously to seek a ‘second election’ based on insignificant errors and false and empty suppositions that neither Petitioner nor Second Respondent met the threshold of more than 50% of the total number of valid votes cast at the 2020 presidential election.
“My Lords, what is rather conspicuous and significant is that Petitioner has not been able to make any claim in his Petition in respect of the exact number of valid votes he obtained and the total number of valid votes cast in favour of Second Respondent,” the witness statement from Peter Mac Manu says.
In conclusion, the witness for the second respondent says: “The Petitioner’s conduct and that of other leading members of the NDC in proclaiming outright victory with an alleged percentage of over 51%, only to now come to this Honourable Court and pray for ‘a second election with Petitioner and Second Respondent as the candidates’, was contrived to mislead the people of Ghana, and shows that from the outset, Petitioner and his party leaders knew that they had lost the presidential election. I accordingly pray the court to dismiss entirely all the reliefs sought by Petitioner.”
Possible developments in court
With the inability of the petitioner to file his witness statements as directed by the Supreme Court even though he is on record to have met with members of the diplomatic community in the country to show them evidence of the basis for filing his petition, the non-compliance may lead counsel for the respondents to invoke Rule 79 of CI 16.
This would bar the petitioner from proceeding.
Rule 79 of CI 16 states: “… where a party to the proceedings before the court fails to comply with a provision of these rules or with the term of an order or a direction given or with a rule of practice or procedure directed or determined by the court, the failure to comply is a bar to further prosecution of proceedings unless the court considers that the non-compliance should be waived”.
In the event that the Supreme Court decides to apply Rule 79 of CI 16 strictly, the petition by the former president would be thrown out on the grounds of non-compliance when the court reconvenes on Tuesday 26 January 2021.
Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio