An application for interrogatories filed by lawyers of the 2020 presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress, John Dramani Mahama, in respect of his election petition, was yesterday dismissed by the Supreme Court.
An interrogatory is a formal set of written questions propounded by one litigant and required to be answered by an adversary in order to clarify matters of fact and help to determine in advance what facts will be presented at any trial.
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.
Mr Mahama was asking the EC Chairperson to admit that she made errors during her declaration of the results of the 2020 general election.
Some of the information Mr Mahama’s legal team, led by Tsatsu Tsikata, was seeking for also included the manner in which the results were transmitted and the level of involvement of the National Communications Authority (NCA).
Mr Mahama also wanted the EC Chairperson to admit that she did declare the results on December 9, which was broadcast live on radio, television and online platforms; and further wanted the EC Chairperson to admit that the figures and percentages announced by her during this declaration, if collated will come to 100.3 per cent instead of 100 per cent.
Mr Mahama also wanted the EC Chairperson to admit that the subsequent correction of results in statements issued by the EC is different from what candidates obtained as captured in the summary of results sheets published by the EC.
According to Mr Tsikata, the objective of the application was to “narrow down” the issues for the trial.
However, counsels for both the Electoral Commission and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo objected to the application.
They argued that John Mahama and his legal team were using the “back door” to seek further information from the EC that were not captured in their petition.
Mr Akoto Ampaw, lead lawyer for President Akufo-Addo, described the application as a “fishing expedition”.
For his part, the EC’s lawyer, Justin Amenuvor, noted that most of the questions are not in contention and have either been answered by the EC or is information that John Mahama is well aware of because he deployed agents across the country.
The seven-member panel presided over by Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, after listening to arguments from the lawyers, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the application.
According to the court, the interrogatories were irrelevant to the case. The court said the crucial issues of relevance of the application had not been established by the petitioner.
The court explained that “reference was made to the 2013 [presidential election] petition in which an application for interlocutories was granted by the Supreme Court.
“However, subsequent to 2013, several statutory amendments have been made by C.I. 99 of 2016 which has restricted the practice and procedure of this court as regards Election Petition,” the court said.
“Indeed, Rule 69 of the Supreme Court amendment in C.I. 99 directs the expeditious disposal of petitions and sets timeliness for this court to dispose off the petition. It implies that even amendments brought here and granted as well as…, subsequent statutory amendments pointed out after the 2013 [presidential election petition] has provided us [court] with new procedural regime and strict timelines.”
“We are strictly bound to comply with C.I. 90 and therefore we will not apply Order 22 of C.I. 45 of 2004 in these circumstances,” the court added.
The court set today, Wednesday, January 20, 2021, for the case management to begin.
NDC supporters besiege court
Earlier in the morning, a group of supporters of the opposition party, calling itself “We Demand For Justice”, massed up at the forecourt of the Supreme Court ahead of the hearing of the case.
Clad in red, they said their presence outside the court was to drive home a message that their votes must count.
The convener for the group, Daniel Frimpong, said: “Because we want our votes to count, that’s why we are here to support JM in whatever he’s doing; because we demand for justice. Everybody knows that the voting went on peacefully, but the collation was the problem, so that’s why we are here; everybody’s vote should count. Whether NDC or NPP, we support that they do the right thing.”
When asked whether they had notified the police of their gathering, the group said they did no such thing.
“We’re law-abiding people, and we’re peaceful. As we stand here, nobody is even carrying a stick or a placard. This is a group of people standing somewhere; we’re not even moving around; we’re just standing. We’re law-abiding citizens; we’re here for peace; we’re not here for any violence; the only thing is we want our votes to count,” they said.