Full trial of the 2020 election petition filed by former President John Dramani Mahama is set to commence today as the Supreme Court has cleared all applications by the petitioner that tended to hinder the speedy trial of the case.
This followed yesterday’s unanimous ruling by a nine-member panel of Judges of Ghana’s highest court that Tsatsu Tsikata, the lead lawyer for Mr Mahama failed to meet the threshold set to warrant the grant of their review application.
The panel, chaired by Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, had Justices Yaw Appau, Samuel Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher, Prof Nii Ashie Kotey, Gertrude Torkornoo, Mariama Owusu, Amadu Tanko and Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu as other members.
Mr Tsatsu had sought leave to file “an additional ground of review” to the review application on the interrogatories that were dismissed by the apex court and to “replace paragraph 28 of their original statement of case”, which was a supplement to their statement of case requesting for the review.
He prayed the apex court to grant their request, outlining series of cases where the court allowed for supplementary statement of cases in both review and appeal applications.
However, the Supreme Court Justices in throwing out the supplementary application explained that, “we find that our inherent jurisdiction cannot be invoked under the circumstances of the case when the rules of the court have made clear provisions in the exercise of our jurisdiction in this matter. We accordingly dismiss the application”.
This was after lawyers for the 1st and 2nd Respondents, Electoral Commission (EC) and President Nana Akufo-Addo respectively, opposed the request on the basis that the review jurisdiction of the court did not allow what the applicants were seeking.
Supreme Court ruling
In their ruling, the Justices of the Supreme Court stated that “We have considered the submissions canvassed for and in opposition for this application. We notice that this application before this court is brought under the inherent jurisdiction of the court to file additional grounds of review and replace paragraph 28 of the original statement of the case and to file a supplement to the statement of the case. The application which was argued before us is not sanctioned by any provisions in C.I. 16, specifically from rules 54 to 60 of the Supreme Court rule C.I. 16 of 1996.
“In law and by the settled practice of this court, it should be noted that, review and appeals are conceptually different and the rules governing the application in either of them are very distinct and this court has in several cases exhibited remarkable consistency. All the other cases referred by the counsel for the applicant are based on original jurisdictions and civil appeals.
“The Tamakloe case does not in any way discuss the grant of an application for the reliefs sought before us. In civil appeals and original jurisdiction matters before this court, there are express provisions to grant the reliefs sought in this application and the court may in appropriate cases grant such applications in the interest of delivering justice under rule 15 of sub-rule 11 and 51 of C.I.16, 1996. To grant this application would be tantamount to expanding the scope of jurisdiction of review which jurisdiction is not provided under this court by the rules. We find that our inherent jurisdiction cannot be invoked under the circumstances of the case when the rules of the court have made clear provisions in the exercise of our jurisdiction in this matter. We accordingly dismiss the application.”
The apex court first dismissed an application by the petitioner’s lawyers in which they sought leave to file “an additional ground of review” to the review application on the interrogatories and to “replace paragraph 28 of their original statement of case”, which was a supplement to their statement of case requesting for the review.
Paragraph 28 of the petitioner’s initial review document stated among others that “there is no reference in rule 69(c) 4 of CI 99 to amendments. It is rather 69 A (6) which provides as follows.”
In the proposed new paragraph “it rather” quoted 68(7) instead of the 69A (6) as earlier quoted.
In dismissing the supplementary application, the Supreme Court also dismissed the main review application, which challenged the court’s refusal to allow the petitioner to serve EC’s Chairperson Jean Mensa some 12 interrogatories.
The 2020 presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress, Mr John Mahama who lost the elections to President Akufo-Addo filed the petition, seeking to have the results annulled.
He alleged that President Akufo-Addo benefited from vote padding and computational errors supervised and carried out by the EC.
According to him, nobody won the 2020 polls and therefore the Supreme Court should order a re-run between him and President Akufo-Addo.
Meanwhile, one of the two witnesses, Dr Michael Kpessa Whyte and NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia is set to open the case of the petitioner today.
Mr Mahama on Wednesday filed only two witness statements instead of the five they had earlier notified the court about.
This was after they had earlier on failed to file the statements as directed by the court last week.