Mahama faces Supreme Court today for pre-trial of election petition

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John Mahama

The Supreme Court will today, Tuesday January 19, 2021, commence the pre-trial of the election petition filed by the 2020 presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress, John Dramani Mahama, challenging the declaration of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

The case was on Thursday, January 14, adjourned to today. Mr Mahama, who is the petitioner, is expected to begin giving his evidence-in-chief from today.

This is expected to be followed by cross-examination from the counsels of President Akufo-Addo and the Electoral Commission.

The court has 42 working days from today to issue a decision.

Petition

President Mahama is challenging the declaration of President Akufo-Addo as the validly elected President in the 2020 general elections.

The court case follows weeks of street protests over alleged voter fraud and irregularities in the polls.

He makes claims of “serious violations of the 1992 Constitution by the Electoral Commission and its Chairperson and Returning Officer for the Presidential Election, Mrs. Jean Adukwei Mensa in the conduct of their constitutional and legal responsibility.”

The petition seeks, among others, a declaration by the Supreme Court to the effect that “the purported declaration of the results of the 2020 Presidential Election on the 9th day of December 2020 is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

Responses

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in his response, is asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition on grounds that it lacks substance, and is rather a “face saving gimmick” by the former President.

In a 12-page response, President Akufo-Addo argues that the petition does not disclose any attack on the validity of the elections held in the 38,622 polling stations and 311 special voting centres, adding that the petition is borne out of “unfounded imagination”.

“The instant action is a ruse and face-saving gimmick by the petitioner, after the petitioner and many senior members of the NDC party had prematurely claimed outright victory in the election, only to be badly exposed by results of the 1st respondent (EC), corroborated by all media houses of note in the country as well as many independent local and international observers,” President Akufo-Addo argues.

The second respondent in the petition further prays the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition brought before it by Mr Mahama because it was not based on Article 64(1) of the Constitution, which makes “the validity” of an election the basis of a presidential election petition.

The Electoral Commission, for its part, has also asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition, describing it as ‘incompetent’.

“The 1st respondent prays that the petition and all the grounds in support thereof be summarily dismissed by this Honorable Court for not disclosing any reasonable cause of action,” the EC stated in its response.

In a preliminary objection to the petition, the EC said the petition is incompetent as it does not meet the requirement of Article 64(1) of the Constitution and Rule 68(1) of the supreme Court rules 1996 (C I 16) as amended, used in challenging the validity of the presidential election conducted by the first respondent (EC) on December 7, 2020.

The EC added that the petitioner failed to indicate the exact number of votes and percentages that he or other candidates ought to have obtained in comparison to the number of votes and percentages declared by the first respondent.

Correction

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, gave Mr Mahama the opportunity to amend some errors in his petition.

The petition had interchanged the Electoral Commission and President Akufo-Addo in one of the reliefs being sought.

The court, in granting the motion for amendment, during its first sitting, said the typographical errors sought to be corrected did not materially affect the substance of the case.

Meanwhile, the court had indicated that arrangement for a live telecast of the case had been agreed on.

NDC’s unhappiness

Unlike the 2012 election petition hearing, the Supreme Court has empanelled a seven-member panel, comprising two females and five males to sit on the case.

The Chief Justice, Justice Anin-Yeboah, is also among the seven-member panel to hear the case, unlike in 2012 where Chief Justice Mrs Georgina Woode did not join the panel.

All members on the panel, but the Chief Justice, are new members who were not part of the 2012 petition panel.

Other members of the panel include Justice Yaw Apau, Justice Samuel Marfu-Sau, Justice Nene Amegatcher, Justice Nii Ashie Kotei, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo and Justice Mariama Owusu.

The NDC legal team is advocating a change in the composition of the panel.

According to the Director of Legal Affairs of the NDC, Abraham Amaliba, the exercise of the discretion by the Chief Justice to put together a 7-member panel was exercised wrongly.

“There are some experienced judges who should have been part of this team. Justice Dotse, Justice Baffoe Bonnie should have been part of this because they were part of the 2012 election petition and their experiences would be key to the determination of this matter,” he has said.

 

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