Politics

Petitioner hints to file a review over the Court’s decision on witnesses

Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, the lead Counsel for the Petitioner in the ongoing Election 2020 Petition Trial, says he will file for a review over the Supreme Court’s decision against the cross-examination of Mrs Jean Mensa, the Electoral Commission’s Chairperson and Nana Akufo-Addo.

He gave the hint after the Court in a unanimous ruling, dismissed the application by the Petitioner in the Election 2020 Petition trial to compel the EC Boss and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to mount the witness box to be cross-examined.

Mr Tsikata allegedly said, the Petitioner would also seek the permission of the Court to re-open his case.

The lead Counsel also said the Petitioner would file for a subpoena of the EC Boss and that would be done formally through a motion.

The Supreme Court presided over by Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, said the Court was ready and could not prevent the Petitioner from filing anything before it.

Meanwhile, the Court has directed parties in the trial to file their respective addresses simultaneously by February 17.

It adjourned the matter to February 18, 2021, for lawyers in the case to make their respective legal arguments before the Court.

The Petitioner, Mr Mahama, after closing his case before the Court, wanted it to compel, Mrs. Mensa and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to mount the witness box to be cross-examined.

The Court, however, on Thursday held that in civil trial, it could not compel a party to mount the witness box.

According to the seven-member panel, the Court’s inherent jurisdiction did not require that it extended its powers beyond what the law had stated.

“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,” the Court ruled.

It, further, noted that although the EC Boss had been mandated to play a constitutionally mandated duty, a new set of rules of Court could not be set for her.

Lawyers for the EC and President Akufo-Addo (first and second respondents) 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.”

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”.

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.

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 obligation to perform by declaring the election results.

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

Last Monday, February 8, this year, the Petitioner closed his case after calling three witnesses.

The witnesses were; Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the NDC General Secretary, Dr Michael Kpessa-Whyte and Mr Robert Joseph Mettle Nunoo, both members of the Party.

The EC Boss and President Akufo-Addo also closed their case, saying that, in view of the evidence adduced through the Petitioner’s witness, they would no longer call any witnesses because they believed that the petitioner has not discharged its burden of proof.

Mr Mahama is in Court challenging the validity of the EC’s declaration of the winner of Election 2020 polls. The Petitioner also accused the EC of vote padding but it had denied that assertion.

Source: GNA

RG Network/Cashmo

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