Mahama urges Supreme Court to halt petition hearing
Former President John Dramani Mahama has filed an application urging the Supreme Court to put on hold his petition in connection with the 2020 presidential election.
Mr Mahama wants the court to halt the proceedings until it makes a determination on a review application challenging the court’s refusal to compel the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, to testify in the petition.
It is the contention of the petitioner that the review application was likely to succeed, and, therefore, failure to halt the trial would cause him an “irreplaceable harm”.
Per the application to stay proceedings, Mr Mahama wants the court to suspend its orders for the parties (Mr Mahama, the EC and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo) to file their legal addresses by today.
“For us to have to file closing addresses when there is a pending issue to be determined in the review application about whether or not my lawyers will cross-examine the Chairperson of the first respondent would cause irreplaceable harm to the conduct of my case,” he said.
Former President Mahama filed the application for review and the one for stay of proceedings yesterday, barely an hour after the Supreme Court dismissed his application seeking permission to re-open his case in order to subpoena Mrs Mensa to testify.
The court is expected to hear the application for stay of proceedings and review tomorrow.
On February 11, this year, the apex court overruled an objection by lead counsel for the petitioner, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, challenging the decision of the respondents not to call any witnesses to adduce evidence.
In the unanimous ruling, the seven-member panel held that the rules of court and decided cases did not clothe it with the powers to compel a party to adduce evidence if the party opted not to do that.
“The law is, therefore, settled that a party will not be compelled to enter the witness box and testify in support of his or her own case,” the court ruled.
However, in his review application, Mr Mahama attacked the ruling, describing it as one that had occasioned a “grave miscarriage of justice”.
He premised his review on the grounds that the decision of the court not to call the Chairperson of the EC to testify violated Section 26 of the Evidence Act and Articles 19(13) and 296 of the Constitution, and that the court failed to appreciate the crucial constitutional role of Mrs Mensa as the Chairperson of the EC and hence the need for her to testify.
“The court fundamentally erred in putting forward positions which were not what counsel for respondents had put before the Court in respect of their case,” he argued.
Interest of justice
The petitioner urged the court to uphold his review application on the basis that it met the exceptional circumstance threshold as required for review applications to succeed.
Mr Mahama further invited the court to rule in his favour in the interest of justice.
“In our respectful submission, each of the grounds of our application for review has been established. We are, therefore, inviting the Lordships respectfully to acknowledge the exceptional circumstances herein and review their ruling of February 11, 2021.
“It is undoubtedly in the interest of justice that the Chairperson of first Respondent (EC) testifies in these proceedings,” Mr Mahama stated.