Mahama Wants Petition Hearing Halted

John Mahama

Former President John Dramani Mahama has filed fresh application before the Supreme Court seeking to put on hold the hearing of his petition challenging the results of the 2020 Presidential Election which he lost.

The application filed by his lawyers was asking the highest court not to proceed with the hearing until the determination of another application which was seeking the same court to review its decision that dismissed his application for leave to serve some 12 questions on the Electoral Commission (EC).

Mr. Mahama’s application for stay of proceedings is alleging that the continuation of the hearing of the petition before the review application is heard “will cause irreparable harm to the conduct of our case, since I will have been denied the benefit of normal pre-trial processes.”

Mahama Interrogatories

The former President is challenging the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, alleging that none of the candidate who contested got more than 50 per cent of the total valid votes cast to be declared winner.

Both the EC and President Akufo-Addo (declared as winner of the December 7 election by the EC), who are respondents in the case, have denied Mr. Mahama’s allegations, stating that the former President has not provided any evidence challenging the validity of the election across 38,622 polling stations and 311 special voting centres nationwide but rather an error made by the Chairperson of the EC when she declared the results.

During the pre-trial, his lawyers filed an application for interrogatories seeking the leave of the court to serve some 12 question on the EC for answers.

He wanted the EC to answer among others questions relating to the processes involved in the transmission of results from the constituencies to the regional offices of the EC.

Basis For Application

The application, according to the former President, was necessitated by the paragraph five of the EC’s response to the election petition where the election regulatory body maintained that it followed the laid down procedures for collating the results of presidential elections.

The application raised issues about how the results of the presidential election were transferred from the constituencies to the regional offices of the EC.

The application wanted the EC to answer questions as to whether the National Communication Authority (NCA) in any way facilitated the transmission of results to the Headquarters of the EC as it determined the credibility of the results that were transmitted to the EC.

Error Claifications

The application also sought clarifications on errors made by the Chairperson of the EC on December 9, 2020 when she declared the results of the Presidential election.

The application for interrogatories was seeking to know when the EC boss, Jean Adukwei Mensa, who was the Returning Officer of the presidential election, first realised there were errors in the results she declared and how she got to know about those errors.

But a seven-member panel of the court presided over by the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, and assisted by Justices Yaw Appau, Samuel Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher, Prof. Nii Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu and Getrude Torkornoo in a unanimous decision, dismissed the application as not establishing relevance for the grant of such application.

Filing Review

Not satisfied with the decision of the court, the former President filed an application for review, seeking the court to reconsider its decision.

His lead counsel, Tsatsu Tsikata, informed the court on Wednesday about the filing of the application after the court had set out issues to determine in the election petition.

Following Orders

On January 20, 2021, the Supreme Court made certain orders regarding the filing of witness statements and exhibits with strict timelines.

Mr. Mahama was to file his witness statement by noon yesterday and serve them on the respondents by the close of day.

But his lawyers were not happy with the orders of the court, complaining among others about the short time within which to file the witness statements and exhibits.

Mr. Tsikata informed the court that he had filed the review application which had consequences on their next line of action and also told the court that there were outstanding issues that were not discussed.

But the court reminded him that the filing of a review application did not operate as a stay of proceedings.

Stay of Proceedings

The former President has now filed another application before the court, this time praying it to halt the hearing of the petition until the determination of the review application which is scheduled for January 28, 2021.

In an affidavit deposed to by Mr. Mahama, he claimed that the application for review is based on certain fundamental errors of law made by the court in its ruling, leading to miscarriage of justice.

“At the hearing of this application (stay), 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, I am likely to succeed as the ruling of the court is manifestly in error,” he argues.

“The denial to us of leave to serve interrogatories is a serious miscarriage of justice, which we expect to have remedied in the review,” he added.

Case Timelines

The former President also raised issues about the court’s orders and timelines for the filing of witness statements and exhibits.

He stated that discovery processes such as interrogatories were normal pre-trial to limit the scope of a trial and the review application would seek to recognize the right to have recourse to them.

“In this particular case, the use of mechanism of interrogatories will ensure a speedy trial,” the application for stay of proceedings avers.

Again, the former President has also raised issues about a request to admit facts which plays a crucial role in their witness statements, which has been served on the EC but has not yet been responded to.

“The request to admit facts is necessary for the finalization of our witness statements. Yet the order made by the court on January 20, 2021 required us to file witness statements by noon of January 21, 2021,” he stated.

Mr. Mahama added that not staying proceedings would create the unfortunate impression that the review application had been pre-determined.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak


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