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Supreme Court hears three issues today

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Supreme Court hears three issues today
Supreme Court hears three issues today

The 2020 presidential election petition continues today, with three main items on the bill — an application for stay of proceedings, a review application and the closing submissions of lawyers for the parties.

At its sitting last Thursday, the court had also announced that it would fix a date for judgment of the petition today.

However, this will depend on how it deals with the review application and the application for stay of proceedings filed by the petitioner, former President John Dramani Mahama.

The two applications were filed last Tuesday.

Review

The review application is challenging the ruling of the court, dated February 11, this year, which overruled an objection by the lawyer for the petitioner, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, against the decision of the Electoral Commission (EC) not to adduce evidence.

The apex court held that it could not compel the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, to enter the witness box and testify because a party to a case had the right not to adduce evidence.

With regard to the application for stay of proceedings, the petitioner is urging the court to put the petition on hold until the final determination of the review application.

Stay of proceedings

By filing the application for stay of proceedings, former President Mahama wants the court to suspend its order for lawyers for the parties (Mr Mahama, the EC and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo) to file their closing submissions.

Per the order, the lawyers were to simultaneously file their written addresses on or before yesterday and address the court on the highlights of the addresses today.

Former President Mahama, however, argues in his stay of proceedings application that he would suffer greatly if the petition, including the order to file closing addresses, is not put on hold until his review application is determined.

“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 will cause irreplaceable harm to the conduct of my case,” he argued.

A private legal practitioner, Mr Martin Kpebu, told the Daily Graphic that per decisions of the Supreme Court, an application for stay of proceedings did not automatically put court proceedings on hold.

He said the Supreme Court order for the parties to file their closing addresses stood, irrespective of the application of stay of proceedings filed by the petitioner.

He cited the Supreme Court decision in the case: The Republic vrs High Court (Comm Division) Tamale, Ex parte: Dakpem Zobogunaa Henry Kaleem, delivered on June 4, 2015.

In the said decision, the court held that “the fact that an application for stay of proceedings has been filed does not operate as an automatic stay”.

“The petitioner must comply with the order of the court to file his closing address. That order cannot be arrested by the filing of an application for stay of proceedings,” Mr Kpebu explained.

Petitioner’s case

In his petition, former President Mahama contended that no candidate won the 2020 presidential election and, therefore, the declaration of President Nana Addo Dankwa 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.

He has also accused the EC of engaging in vote padding by deducting some of his votes and adding them to President Akufo-Addo’s.

Respondents’ answers

In their answers, President Nana 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.

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