The petitioner in the ongoing Election 2020 petition at the Supreme Court, John Dramani Mahama, has filed an application at the court seeking to stop the hearing of the petition he filed himself 22 days ago on 30 December 2020.
The motion of notice for stay of proceedings was filed today (21 January 2021) and is expected to be moved on Tuesday (26 January). This is the same date the Supreme Court is to resume sitting of the substantive petition.
According to the motion, Mahama says his lawyers have advised him and believe that the application for review of the Supreme Court decision that dismissed their application for interlocutories is based on certain fundamental errors of law that the court made in its ruling, producing a miscarriage of justice.
The right to interrogatories: that is the question
“At the hearing of this application, counsel will crave the indulgence of the Court to refer to the statement of case in support of the Application for Review, particularly to show that there are indeed serious matters of law that are to be determined in this review application, and I am likely to succeed, as the ruling of the court is manifestly in error,” the application says.
“In the meantime, certain orders in respect of issues for trial and steps for the hearing of my petition have been made by the court on 20 January 2021, including orders that we file our witness statements by noon, 21 January 2021.”
Mahama further notes in his latest application that he has again been advised by his lawyers and believes that:
a. Discovery processes, such as interrogatories, are normal pre-trial processes to limit the scope of a trial, and the review application will seek to recognise the right to have recourse to them;
b. In this particular case, the use of the mechanism of interrogatories will ensure a speedier trial;
c. The denial of leave to counsel for the petitioner to serve interrogatories is a serious miscarriage of justice which Mr Mahama’s legal team expects to have remedied in the review;
d. For the hearing of the petition to proceed before the review is heard would cause irreparable harm to the conduct of the petitioner’s case as, he argues, he would have been denied the benefit of normal pre-trial.
Mahama concludes his application by indicating that “all the above constitute exceptional circumstances on the basis of which we respectfully seek orders of the court staying the proceedings in this case until the determination of the application for review. Not to stay proceedings would create the unfortunate impression that the review application has been predetermined.
“No prejudice will be caused to the respondents by the grant of such leave.”