The Supreme Court yesterday gave strong warning that it will not hesitate to strike out John Dramani Mahama’s presidential election petition if his legal team continues to disobey the orders of the apex court.
This followed an explanation by lawyer for the Petitioner, Tony Lithur that they failed to file witness statements as ordered by the highest court of the land by close of January 21, 2021 due to pending applications they had earlier filed.
Former President Mahama, he argued, had filed a stay of proceedings along with an application for the apex court to review the dismissal of his permission to serve the Electoral Commission (EC) some 12 interrogatories.
“Filing processes while the application for stay of proceedings is pending will amount to taking a first step which may be used against us in determining the application”, Mr Lithur argued.
However, the seven-member panel of Judges hearing the petition namely Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah; Justices Yaw Appau, Samuel Marful-Sau, Professor Emmanuel Nii Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu, Nene Abayateye Ofoe Amegatcher, and Gertrude Torkornoo rebuked the petitioner’s lawyers for failing to abide by the orders of the court.
They stated that the witness statements should have been filed as ordered by the court since Mr. Mahama had earlier stated in his initial petition that he has five witnesses to back his case.
“You pick and choose which process you can file and which you cannot file.
“Why are you refusing to obey the orders of the court meanwhile you want us to hear your applications,” one of the Justices queried.
Consequently, the Justices ordered the petitioner’s lawyers to file their witness statements latest by close of today January 27, 2021 for hearing to begin tomorrow or have their petition dismissed.
Mr Mahama is in court challenging the declaration of President Akufo-Addo as the winner of the 2020 polls by the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa.
He claimed no candidate won the presidential election with more than 50% of the valid votes case as stipulated by Article 63 (3) of Ghana’s Constitution, praying that the Supreme Court orders a re-run between him and President Akufo-Addo.
This was after he told supporters of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that he won the election in the first round but that the verdict was being stolen.
His pre-court comments led to nationwide violent demonstrations by party supporters and burning of car tyres on the streets.
Issues to be determined
Yesterday’s hearing followed a January 20, 2021 ruling that five issues will be used to pass final judgment on the election petition and ensure that the 42-days timeline is also met.
The issues, according to the apex court, included whether or not the petition discloses any reasonable cause of action and whether or not per the data available any candidate obtained more than 50% of the votes cast.
Again, the Supreme Court will determine “whether or not the second respondent obtained more than 50% of the votes cast by the exclusion or inclusion of Techiman South Constituency results and whether or not declaration was in violation of the constitution.”
Finally, the court will consider “whether or not the alleged vote padding affected the results as declared.”
It was as a result of these issues that the Judges ordered the petitioner in the case, Mr Mahama, to file his witness statements by Thursday, January 21, 2021.
The 1st and 2nd Respondents, the Electoral Commission and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo respectively were to file same by Friday, January 22, 2021.
Furthermore, all lawyers involved in the case were to file their legal argument related to the initial objection by Monday, January 25, 2021.
Whilst the 1st and 2nd Respondents filed their witness statements, lawyers for the petitioner refused to obey the orders of the apex court.