Supreme Court judges set out five issues for 2020 election petition trial

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Chief Justice Anin Yeboah

The Supreme Court has ordered the flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2020 general election, John Dramani Mahama, to file his witness statement with exhibits, if any, by the noon of today, Thursday, January 21, 2020.

The witness statement, the court says, shall be served on the counsel for the respondents by the close of same day.

This is to help the court expedite the processes in the ongoing election petition trial in which Mr Mahama is challenging the declaration of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-addo as the validly elected President in the December 7, 2020 general election.

Per timelines set by the court, the respondents and their witnesses, if any, are also to file their witness statements with exhibits, if any, by the close of day tomorrow, Friday January 22, 2020.

Subsequent to the filing of the statements, the court has asked the first and second respondents to file submissions on the preliminary objections raised to the petition by 12 noon tomorrow.

“The registrar shall ensure service of submission by close of Friday, January 22. The petitioner shall file any response to the submission of the preliminary objection by Monday, Jan 25,” the court directed.

Disagreement

The timelines have been set in order to ensure that the court meets its 42-day timeline set for the determination of the presidential election petition.

However, lead counsel for the petitioner, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, has objected to the timelines, saying “justice must not be sacrificed for expedition.”

He argued that the timelines could have consequences on the motion for review of the court’s ruling on the application for interrogatories, among other outstanding issues.

His disagreement was quickly shut down by Justice Professor Nii Ashie Kotey, who said the court was operating under the strict timelines of C.I. 99.

Issues

At its sitting yesterday, the court set out five issues for determination of the petition.

It arrived at the decision after counsels for the petitioner and the first and second respondents had filed their memoranda of issues.

Among the issues to be determined by the court include:  whether or not the petition discloses any cause of action – that is if there is any legal grounds for the petition; whether or not the second respondent (Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo) met the Article 63 (3) threshold of the 1992 Constitution, which states that a presidential candidate must obtain more than 50 per cent of the total valid votes cast to be declared as President-elect; and whether or not the second respondent (Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo) still met the Article 63(3) of the 1992 threshold by the exclusion or inclusion of the Techiman South constituency presidential election results.

The other issues are: whether or not the declaration by the first respondent (EC) on December 9 of the presidential election conducted on December 7 was in violation of Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution; and whether or not the alleged vote padding and other errors complained of by the petitioner affected the outcome of the presidential election results of 2020 declared.

Review

Meanwhile, lawyers for former President Mahama have filed an application asking the Supreme Court to review its decision on Tuesday that disallowed them from asking the Electoral Commission (EC) 12 questions in the petition.

The court on Tuesday dismissed an application for interrogatories filed by lawyers of Mr Mahama.

Mr Mahama sought to ask the court to grant leave for the Electoral Commission (1st respondent) to answer 12 questions regarding the declaration of the presidential election results.

The court has set January 28, 2020 as the return date for the review.

 

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