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Election petition: Mahama files witness statements

BY: Justice Agbenorsi
Former President Mahama — Petitioner

The petitioner in the 2020 presidential election petition, former President John Dramani Mahama, yesterday filed his witness statements at the Supreme Court.

Mr Mahama, who was the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2020 elections, also filed an opposition to the preliminary legal objections filed by both respondents.

That was after the Supreme Court had given him the last opportunity to file his witness statements in the petition by the close of yesterday, January 27, 2021.

 The witnesses are a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr Micheal Kpessa-Whyte, and the General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia.

While Dr Kpessa-Whyte, who described himself in the statement as a representative of former President Mahama’s strong room, said he noticed many material irregularities during the entire process of the December 7 presidential election, while Mr Asiedu Nketia, in his statement, alleged that certain officials of the Electoral Commission (first respondent) padded the votes of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Kpessa-Whyte

In his statement, Dr Kpessa-Whyte said he and his colleague representative in the strong room, Mr Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo, drew the attention of former President Mahama and the NDC to the material irregularities he had noticed in the strong room.

He said, subsequently, the NDC immediately caused a letter to be written to the EC, which detailed some of former President Mahama and the NDC’s concerns.

He again said based on the discovery, he, together with his colleague representative, did not certify the summary sheets of the results from some of the regions.

“We immediately brought same to the attention of the Chairperson of the EC and Returning Officer for the presidential election, Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa,” he added.

Dr Kpessa-Whyte said Mrs Mensa told them to "go and consult with former President Mahama and return”.

Assurance

The witness indicated  that Mrs Mensa assured them that she was holding on with any declaration of the results until their concerns and all other concerns with the collation of the votes had been addressed.

“She added that she would send a dispatch rider to accompany us back to the strong room to relay the feedback from petitioner before she declared the results,” he said.

Dr Kpessa-Whyte said based on the assurances, they left the strong room, adding: “Immediately we left the strong room, and as heard by us on the radio as we arrived at former President Mahama’s home and on television as we entered his home, Mrs Mensa, hurriedly and on our blind side, declared President Akufo-Addo President-elect in the presidential election held on 7th December, 2020.”

Again, he said, the declaration by Mrs Mensa was manifestly wrong, as the results declared were based on a wrong collation of votes arising from some of the self-same errors that they had discovered in the strong room.

Corrections

Dr Kpessa-Whyte said after declaring the results, Mrs Mensa and the EC purported to have made many corrections, notably on December 10, 2020, to what she had originally declared,

“All these subsequent corrections were manifestly wrong, as same were based on the very wrong collation of votes we, as representatives of the petitioner, had brought to her attention,” he said

The witness said although Mrs Mensa had earlier promised to provide feedback for them, they never received any feedback from her on the concerns they had raised with her earlier, adding: “I am aware that neither the petitioner nor the NDC has received any feedback from Mrs Mensa on the issues raised in the NDC's letter to her.”

“As one of two representatives of the petitioner in the strong room, I am still waiting for Mrs Mensa to acknowledge her unconstitutional conduct on December 9, 2020 and embark on a course to correct that conduct by engaging in the necessary and standard consultations with all the representatives of the presidential candidates for that election, including those of the petitioner, to ensure she does the right thing to reflect the true will of the Ghanaian people,” he added.

Asiedu Nketia

 For his part, Mr Asiedu Nketia said he had been informed by lawyers for Mr Mahama that the EC had not responded to a request to admit facts, as such the response or lack of it was likely to require a further witness statement from him.

Again, he said, because the court had dismissed the application for interrogatories and an application for review of the said decision was pending, the questions, if allowed by the court and subsequently answered by the EC, might also be relevant evidence which might require a further witness statement from him. 

He said on  December 9, 2020, Mrs Mensa held a conference at which she purported to declare President Akufo-Addo President-elect.

The declaration, he said, was broadcast live on radio, television and other electronic media. 

Mr Asiedu Nketia said Mrs Mensa, in purporting to declare the results, declared that the total valid votes cast was 13,434,574, representing 79 per cent of the total registered voters.

He said Mrs Mensa again declared that President Akufo-Addo had obtained 6,730,413 votes, which represented 51.595 per cent of the total valid votes cast.

Per Mr Asiedu Nketia’s calculations, the claim that President Akufo-Addo had obtained 6,730,413 was a manifest error, as votes cast for President Akufo-Addo would rather amount to 50.098 per cent and not the 51.595 per cent Mrs Mensa had declared.

Techiman South Constituency

Mr Asiedu Nketia said the Techiman South Constituency had a total registered voter population of 128,018, and if added to the total valid votes of 13,434,574, as announced by Mrs Mensa, the resultant figure would be 13,562,592.

Consequently, he said,  if all the votes of Techiman South Constituency were added to the petitioner's votes, President Akufo-Addo votes would remain the same at 6,730,413, now yielding 49.625 per cent, while the votes of former President Mahama would increase to 6,342,907, now yielding 46.768 per cent.

“When the percentages of valid votes cast and standing to the names of each of the presidential candidates and as purportedly declared by Mrs Mensa on 9th December, 2020 are summed up, they would yield a total of one hundred point three per cent, a mathematical and statistical impossibility,” he added.

These mathematical anomalies, he said, were in violation of Article 63(3) of the 1992 Constitution.

Again, Mr Asiedu Nketia said, in the declaration of the corrections made by Mrs Mensa regarding the votes, no officer of the EC engaged in any consultative process involving former President Mahama or his accredited agents, nor did Mrs Mensa.

That, he said, was clearly contrary to the responsibilities of the Chairperson of the EC.

Mr Asiedu Nketia, in his statement, further urged the court to set aside “the error-ridden and unconstitutional declaration made on 9th December, 2020 by the EC Chairperson”.

Objection

The  (EC) and President  Akufo-Addo, in their preliminary legal objection to the petition, had urged the court to dismiss the petition filed by former President Mahama.

While the EC, in its legal argument, said the former President’s legal action was based on extreme speculations which amounted to a waste of the court’s time, President Akufo-Addo, on his part, described the petition as incompetent and disclosed no reasonable cause of action in terms of Article 64(1) and ought to be dismissed.

However, Mr Mahama, in his response to the preliminary legal objections filed by the respondents, urged the court to dismiss the preliminary legal objections and proceed to order the respondents to open their defence and be subjected to the accountability requirements and standards of public office.