Ghana: 2020 Presidential Election Petition – The Journey So Far

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Tsatsu Tsikata
Tsatsu Tsikata

Former President John Dramani Mahama on December 30, 2021, filed a petition at the Supreme Court seeking an annulment of the Presidential election results and the re-run of the election between him and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The petition is also seeking a mandatory injunction directing the 1st Respondent, the Electoral Commission, to proceed to conduct a second election between the Petitioner and the 2nd Respondent( President Nana Akufo-Addo) as the candidates, under Articles 63 (4) and (5) of the 1992 constitutions.

On January 13, 2021, when the trial was called, the Petitioner, through his Counsel, told the Court he had filed a motion on leave to correct an error or “mistake” in the Petition.

The Court then fixed Thursday, January 14, 2021, to hear the motion praying for leave to amend the election petition.

The mistake, as stated in the motion was in relief (f) of the election petition.

The Apex Court granted former President John Dramani Mahama’s motion for leave to amend the Election Petition challenging the validity of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as the winner of the December Presidential election.

The seven-member panel chaired by Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, directed the respondents, namely, President Akufo-Addo and the Electoral Commission to file their responses by January 15, 2021.

On January 19, Mr Mahama again filed a motion asking the Electoral Commission to admit, it made errors in the declaration of the 2020 Presidential results, ahead of the pre-trial of the Election Petition.

The Apex Court on January 19, unanimously dismissed the application for leave to serve interrogatories on the Commission.

The Supreme Court held that the interrogatory application was discretional and same must raise relevance.

The Supreme Court on January 20, 2021, set January 26, 2021, for the commencement of the full trial of the 2020 Election Petition.

The seven-member panel decided on issues for the trial, which included whether or not the petition disclosed “any reasonable cause of action.”

Secondly, the Court will determine whether or not, no candidate obtained 50 percent plus one of the total valid votes cast.

Thirdly, it will ascertain whether or not the second Respondent (President Akufo-Addo), obtained more than 50 percent threshold with or without Techiman South.

Again, the Court will establish whether or not there were violations of law in the conduct and declaration of the 2020 Presidential Election.

Finally, the Court will find out whether or not allegations of vote padding affected the results of the 2020 Presidential elections.

The Court set timelines for the parties to file their witness statements – the Petitioner was to file witness statements by close of Thursday, January 21, while the respondents given close of Friday, January, 22, 2021.

The Petitioner, through his lead Counsel, Tsatsu Tsikata, filed an application asking the Court to review its dismissal of the motion for some 12 interrogatories to be served on the Electoral Commission.

The Court did not hear the review of the ruling on the application of the interrogatories and adjourned it to January 28.

The Electoral Commission opposed to a motion on notice for review in respect of a dismissed application for interrogatories.

Before then, the former President had filed an application requesting the Commission to produce specific documents for inspection and again filed a stay of proceedings.

The Court fixed January 28, 2021, to hear the application for stay of execution.

The Apex Court, for the second time, ordered the Petitioner to file his witness statements by close of Wednesday, January 27, 2021.

The seven-member panel said failure to file the witness statements would compel the Court to invoke sanctions of Rule 69 of CI 16, which had been amended by CI 99.

Under Rule 69, the Court has the power to dismiss the petition or impose punitive cost against the Petitioner.

The Petitioner filed his witness statements as ordered by the Supreme Court, on Tuesday, 26, 2021.

The Petitioner served notice that he would rely on Dr Michael Kpessa-Whyte, his representative in the Electoral Commission’s national collation centre (strong room) and Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, as his witnesses.

On January 29, the Supreme Court asked the Petitioner to produce one of his witnesses to testify for, which Mr Nketia mounted the witness box and testified as a witness in the 2020 Election Petition trial.
Before Mr Nketia testified, there were some objections to his witness statement from the Respondents for, with the Court striking out seven paragraphs of the statement.

The Court said Mr Nketia could not testify on them.

The Court said those paragraphs would have been admissible if the Petitioner (John Dramani Mahama) was testifying in court.

On February 2, 2021, Dr. Kpessa-Whyte, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana, mounted the witness box for the Petitioner.

The Counsel for the Petitioner filed a motion for an order compelling the Commission to produce for inspection some documents relating to the 2020 polls.

The Supreme Court on February 3, 2021, unanimously dismissed a motion of the Petitioner requesting for the inspection of election documents in the custody of the Electoral Commission (EC).

On February 4, the Petitioner filed another witness statement with Mr Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo, testifying for him.

The Petitioner, the Electoral Commission and President Akufo-Addo closed their cases at the Supreme Court on February 8.

The Supreme Court on February 11, 2021, dismissed an application by the Petitioner to compel Mrs Jean Mensa, the Electoral Commission Chairperson and President Akufo-Addo, to be cross examined.

The Court, in a unanimous decision, held that in civil trial, the Court could not compel a party to mount the witness box.

Here, Mr Tsikata, said, he would file for a review over the Supreme Court’s decision against the cross examination of Mrs Mensa and Nana Akufo-Addo.

The Court ordered lawyers in the trial to file their written addresses by February 17, 2021, after the Court had adjourned the matter to February 18, 2021, for the lawyers to make legal submissions before it.

On February 11, the Petitioner filed a motion on notice for leave to re-open his case to have Mrs Mensa testify. The hearing of the motion was fixed on Monday February 15, 2021.

The Apex Court, unanimously dismissed the Petitioner’s motion for leave to have his case reopened. The reopening of the case of the Petitioner was also to afford the Petitioner, the opportunity to subpoena Mrs Mensa, to testify as a “hostile” witness.

Mr. Tsikata again told the Court that he had filed two applications which were pending before the Supreme Court. They were applications for review of the Court’s decision on February 11, 2021 and also a stay of proceedings.
Once more, the Supreme Court affirmed its decisions not to compel Mrs Mensa to testify in the Election 2020 Petition trial.

On February 22, the Supreme Court, in a 9-0 decision, dismissed a review application by Mr Mahama, praying the Court to reopen his case and have Mrs Mensa subpoenaed to testify.

The nine-member panel, presided over by Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, held that the Petitioner’s application lacked merit in its entirety.

It was the third time the Petitioner’s review application had been thrown out.
The Court then fixed Thursday, March 4, 2021, to deliver its ruling on the 2020 Election Petition.

This follows the grant of leave to the Petitioner’s lawyers to file their closing addresses by Tuesday, February 23.

The Court is expected to announce its verdict on Thursday.

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