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Election Petition: Court orders parties to file closing addresses by Feb 17

BY: Kweku Zurek
 Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah
Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah

The Supreme Court has ordered the parties involved in the 2020 presidential election petition filed by former President John Dramani Mahama to file their respective closing addresses by Wednesday, February 17, 2021.

The Court after overruling an objection by the lawyers for the petitioner (Former President John Dramani Mahama), urging the court to compel the respondents (EC and President Akufo-Addo) to call their witnesses to testify said it deems the respective cases of the first and second respondents closed.

The Court also adjourned the hearing of the petition to February 18, 2021.

However, the Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah said the court will hear any filings concerning a review, stay of execution or an application to re-open the case only when they are filed.

Justice Anin Yeboah made this known when the counsel for the petitioner, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata asked the court to allow him to file an application to re-open its case and subpoena the EC Chair to be cross-examined as a witness.

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The petitioner also intends to apply for a review of the decision of the court to overrule its objection urging the court to compel the respondents (EC and President Akufo-Addo) to call their witnesses to testify.

He prayed the court to take his intentions into account before making a decision.

"...We do not think that it will be appropriate for us to have to be bringing applications for stay of proceedings and all that, I mean we can do that but it may be better to avoid going through all those different processes if your Lordships will allow us the opportunity to file and have those processes determined," Mr Tsikata said.

Responding to the counsel for the petitioner, Justice Anin Yeboah said the court cannot prevent a party from filing any processes but will hear any filings.

"By court, by the rulings just read, the respective cases of the first and second respondents are deemed closed. This court hereby orders that the parties herein should simultaneously file their respective closing addresses on or before Wednesday, February 17, 2021.

"The petition is hereby adjourned to February 18, 2021, for counsel in this petition to highlight on the written addresses on submission so far for the petition to be adjourned for judgement".

Petitioner’s case

In his petition, former President Mahama contended that no candidate won the 2020 presidential election and, therefore, the declaration of President Akufo-Addo as the winner of the election by Mrs Mensa was “null, void, unconstitutional and of no legal effect”.

He argued that as per the results announced by Mrs Mensa on December 9, 2020, no candidate garnered more than 50 per cent of the total valid votes cast, as required by Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution.

Former President Mahama, therefore, wants the Supreme Court to declare the declaration on December 9, 2020 as null and void and also order the EC to conduct a run-off between him and President Akufo-Addo.

Respondents’ answers

In their answers, President Akufo-Addo and the EC argued that the petition was incompetent, lacked merit and raised no reasonable cause of action.

It is their contention that the petition did not even meet the requirement of a presidential election petition, as stipulated in Article 64 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, and was, therefore, incompetent.

That, they argued, was because the petition made no allegation of infractions in the election at any of the 38,622 polling stations and 311 special voting centres.