Election petition: SC dismisses Mahama’s second attempt to grill Jean Mensa

The NDC Flagbearer John Dramani Mahama’s request to ask the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission some questions has been tossed out for the second time.

This was after the Supreme Court dismissed the review application on interrogatories, seeking to ask Mrs Jean Mensa 12 key questions.

The petitioners said the questions were critical in discovering the illegalities that characterised the 2020 polls.

In its ruling on Thursday, the nine-member panel said the arguments raised by the petitioner’s legal team does not merit a grant of their application.

Two additional justices, Justice Imoro Tanko and Justice Henrietta Mensah Bonsu had to be added to expand the panel.

The initial panel hearing the case were seven namely: Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah; Justice Yaw Apau; Justice Samuel Kofi Marful-Sau; Justice Prof. Nii Ashie Kotey; Justice Nene A. O. Amegatcher; Justice Gertrude Torkonoo and Justice Mariama Owusu.

The panel said the application submitted had not met the threshold to apply for review and subsequently dismissed it.

The court presided over by the Chief Justice noted that there was no new, important matter or evidence that the petitioners had raised in its review argument.

“We have read the processes and have listened to counsel, we are not satisfied that the applicant has met the statutory requirement of rule 54(a) of C.I. 16 in order to succeed in an application for review. The application fails and it is accordingly dismissed,” the Chief Justice read out a unanimous ruling.

In its review application, lawyers for the petitioner said the court should have exercised its discretionary powers in accordance with article 296 of the constitution.

“Article 296 requires an authority vested with discretionary power to be fair and candid. The court got it wrong yet again when it took the view that the current rules requiring expeditious trial mean even amendments are not allowed,” it argued.

The petitioner’s legal team further explained that the apex court was bound by its 2012/13 ruling when the then NPP presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo challenged the election results.

According to them, since the apex court granted Mr Akufo-Addo, the right to serve the respondents the interrogatories, same should have been done in this case.

“Nothing in the current rule C.I. 99 supports the view the court took that interrogatories are not permitted. The court should in the interest of justice allow for the interrogatories to be served,” Mahama’s lawyers argued.

Mr Mahama’s review application comes after the apex court dismissed an application that sought to order the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission to specifically respond to questions regarding anomalies that characterised the December 7, 2020, elections.

In a unanimous decision, on the preliminary issue, the apex court said the court rules had been amended with respect to interrogatories.

Interrogatories are a formal set of written questions propounded by one litigant and required to be answered by the opposing party or parties in order to clarify matters of fact and help to determine in advance what facts will be presented at any trial in the case.

The Chief Justice said the new regime did not afford the court the laxity of time to respond to allow such questions to be answered before the trial begins.

The court explained that “reference was made to the 2013 [presidential election] petition in which an application for interrogatories was granted by the Supreme Court.

“However, subsequent to 2013, several statutory amendments have been made by C.I. 99 of 2016 which has restricted the practice and procedure of this court as regards Election Petition.

“Indeed, Rule 69 of the Supreme Court amendment in C.I. 99 directs the expeditious disposal of petitions and sets timelines for this court to dispose off the petition. The amendments provide us [court] with the new procedural regime and strict timelines.

We are strictly bound to comply with C.I. 90 and therefore we will not apply Order 22 of C.I. 45 of 2004 in these circumstances. We, accordingly, refuse to grant the application and same is accordingly dismissed,” the court said.

It was the case of the apex court that the petitioners simply wanted to delay the process.

Meanwhile, the NDC Flagbearer has described the apex court’s ruling as a grave injustice.

The NDC Flagbearer, who is contesting the December 7, 2020, presidential elections, said the ruling is riddled with fundamental errors of law.

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