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Election Petition: Supreme Court dismisses Mahama’s insistence to cross-examine EC Chair

The Supreme Court today, Thursday, February 11 has ruled that Mrs Jean A. Mensa, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission will not be cross-examined by the Petitioner’s lawyer in the Election 2020 Petition Trial.

The Apex Court ruled same for President Akufo Addo, who also decided not to call a witness in the trial after the Petitioner had closed his case.

“We are reminded to state that our jurisdiction invoked in this election petition is limited jurisdiction clearly circumscribed by law. We do not intend to extend our mandate beyond what the law requires of us in such petitions brought under article 67 clause 1. Simply put, We are not convinced and will not yield to the invitation being extended to us by the counsel for the petitioner to order the respondents to enter the witness box in order to be cross-examined.

“Accordingly, we hereby overrule the objection raised by the counsel for the petitioner against the decision of the respondents declining to adduce testimonies in this petition”, the Chief Justice Justice Anin Yeboah ruled.

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However, Lawyer for John Mahama, Tsatsu Tsikata is seeking to file a motion to subpoena the EC chair Jean Mensa to testify.

Lawyers for the EC and President Akufo-Addo had indicated that they were not calling any witnesses in the trial after the Petitioner had called three witnesses and closed his case, though they had filed witness statements.

Mr Justine Amenuvor, lead Counsel for the EC cited Order 36 Rule 43 and Constitutional Instrument (CI) 87 rule 3 (e) 5, Section 62 subsection (2) of the Evidence Act to support his position.

Mr Amenuvor said the EC would not require further evidence to determine the matter before the Court after the Petitioner had closed his case.

He argued that it was the Petitioner who brought them to court, led evidence, and closed his case after calling three witnesses.

“We don’t think we have anything to say. If he has a good case, he should go ahead and be happy dancing. We prayed the Court to uphold our application.”

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Mr Akoto Ampaw, lead Counsel for President Akufo-Addo, also associated himself with submissions made by the EC’s lawyer, arguing that the Petitioner’s Counsel’s arguments were “misconceived” and same did address the thrust of their position.

Mr Ampaw was of the opinion that the stands of President Akufo-Addo worked in favour of the Petitioner.

He said under the English Law, a party could raise or notify the court that “it does not intend to adduce evidence in a trial” and same should be done timeously.

Mr Ampaw said, “We are of the view that in the light of CI 37, we are entitled not to adduce evidence. The Petitioner could tender our witness statement as hearsay evidence.”

Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, lead Counsel for the Petitioner, Mr John Dramani Mahama, objected to the EC’s alleged “evasion of cross examination”, adding that Mrs Mensa who represented the EC, had made it known to the Court that she would be mounting the witness box to be cross examined.

Mr Tsikata said that the EC Chairperson explicitly stated that in her affidavit in opposition to the Petitioner’s stay of proceedings and the Petitioner’s application for interrogatories.

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Based on that, Mr Tsikata urged the Court to compel the EC Boss to mount the witness box to be cross examined.

He held that the EC Boss, known as the Returning Officer of the 2020 Presidential Election, had a constitutional obligations to perform by declaring the election results.

Mr Tsikata added that, “The EC Boss made representations to the Court and she cannot resign from those representations.”

The Counsel for the Petitioner argued that the EC Boss had carried out a particular responsibility of conducting election 2020 and she ought to render an account for that.

“Her account is to declare who won the mandate of the people and same is captured in issue two of the issues set out by the court to be determined.”

Mr Tsikata stated that the EC’s withdrawal was an “affront to justice” and same was not in accordance with the rules of the Court.