The Supreme court has dismisssed the request by lawyers for the petitioner in the ongoing 2020 election petition to compel the Electoral Commission EC chairperson to mount the witness box.
It follows a careful examination of argument of the lawyer for the petitioner Tsatsu Tsikata and the first and second respondent.
Listen to the ruling of the Supreme Court
Former president John Dramani Mahama on Monday 8 February 2021 closed his case in the Election 2020 petition hearing after calling three witnesses in support of his petition.
His witnesses were Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Michael Kpessa-Whyte and Joseph Robert Mettle-Nunoo, his two representatives at the National Collation Centre of the Electoral Commission (EC) during the 7 December election.
It was expected that the first respondent in the case (Electoral Commission) after the petitioner closed his case, would call its witness, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Jean Mensa for her witness statement to be adopted for cross-examination by lawyers of the petitioner and the 2nd respondent to commence.
However, lawyer for the EC, Justin Amenuvor, announced in court that his client intends to come under Order 36, Rule 4(3) of CI 47, which states that; “Where the defendant elects not to adduce evidence, then, whether or not the defendant has in the course of cross-examination of a witness for the plaintiff or otherwise put in a document, the plaintiff may, after the evidence on behalf of the plaintiff has been given, close the plaintiff’s case and the defendant may then state the case of the defendant”, and will to this end not be calling any witnesses because the petitioner in the view of the EC, has not put up any evidence that has been challenged or defended by the 1st respondent (EC) in the case.
Lawyer for the second respondent, Akoto Ampaw, also indicated that they will also come under the same provision in C. I. 47, and will therefore not be calling their witness, Peter Mac Manu, any longer.
Listen to the Chief Justice ruling on the matter
Invoke provisions under RTI to question Jean Mensa
Meanwhile The petitioner in the Election 2020 petition hearing, John Mahama, has been advised to invoke provisions under the Right to Information law if he really wants to hold the chairperson of the Electoral Commission Jean Mensa accountable.
Speaking with Kojo Mensah on The Asaase Breakfast Show on Wednesday, Nana Adjoa Adobea Asante, spokesperson for the second respondent (Nana Akufo-Addo) said calls by the petitioner to get the EC chair to mount the witness box is not necessary.
“If the petitioner sought to seek for accountability simpliciter, then the Right to Information Act has been passed under the watch of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, they can invoke the provisions there under,” she said.
Asante added: “If he wants Parliament to also take up such a mantle to ensure that she is held accountable, then he can also invoke the provisions that allows for that, but we are in court, because you are saying that the election that took place was not validly done, so adduce evidence to challenge that, it is not about accountability… then her taking the witness box is not necessary.”
Asante maintains the accountability of the electoral commissioner is not a focal point for the determination of the case brought by the petitioner.
“In challenging the validity of an election, it is not about seeking for somebody to mount the witness box in order to be accountable to the people of Ghana, yes, Ghanaians are interested and we want to know if in actual fact no one crossed the 50 percent threshold,” she said.
“But the case at hand has five issues that need to be determined, those 5 issues do not include whether or not the electoral commission was accountable to the people of Ghana, so accountability simpliciter is not on the table for discussion,” she added.
Happy with proceedings
Asante said the second respondent is happy with the proceedings in court so far.
“With the way proceedings have gone on in court, we are happy with the way the matter has proceeded.
“There have been a lot of delays at the instance of the petitioner which is quite curious because they are the ones who brought the matter to court and they should rather be in a hurry for the final determination of the matter. We are happy that things are proceeding quite fast as compared to how it was in the beginning,” she said.
The Supreme Court will rule on Thursday (11 February 2021) whether Jean Mensa, the EC chair should testify or otherwise.