The Supreme Court yesterday unanimously dismissed an application by former President John Dramani Mahama seeking to solicit some 12 answers from the Electoral Commission (EC) in the ongoing Presidential Election Petition following the disputed 2020 presidential election results.
The application for interrogatories was seeking leave of the highest court to serve certain questions on the EC which he claimed if answered would narrow down the issues before the court for determination.
Mr. Mahama, who is challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election after suing the EC and New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, wanted the EC to answer among others, questions relating to the processes involved in the transmission of results from the constituencies to the regional offices of the EC.
Laid Down Process
The application, according to the former President, was necessitated by paragraph five of the EC’s response to the election petition, where the election regulatory body maintained that it followed the laid down procedures for collating the results of presidential elections.
A seven-member panel of the court presided over by the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin Yeboah, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the application as not establishing relevance for the grant of such applications.
The former President is before the Supreme Court challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election, which he claims none of the candidates that contested on December 7 won more than 50 per cent of the votes to be declared President-elect as mandated by law.
Both the EC and President Akufo-Addo, who are respondents in the case, have denied the allegations, stating that the former President has not provided any evidence challenging the validity of the election across 38,622 polling stations and 311 special voting centres nationwide, but rather an error made by the Chairperson of the EC when she declared the results.
The court had set yesterday to begin pretrial which included case management to set down the modalities of the trial.
But lawyer for Mr. Mahama filed a last minute application for interrogatories posing 12 questions which it sought the EC to answer.
Moving the motion, Tsatsu Tsikata, who is lead counsel for the former President, said the application for the 12 questions was filed in accordance with C.I. 16 and C.I. 47 and made reference to precedent as contained in the Special Edition of the Supreme Court Ghana Law Report which deals with the 2012/2013 election petition.
He said all the 12 proposed interrogations in the application were designed precisely to narrow down the issues before the court regarding the petition.
Mr. Tsikata told the court that the application had questions regarding the practice in previous presidential elections relating to the collation of results from the constituencies and regions to the Strong Room of the EC and whether that process was followed.
The application raised issues about how the results of the Presidential Election were transferred from the constituencies to the regional offices of the EC.
The application wanted the EC to answer questions as to whether the National Communication Authority (NCA) in any way facilitated the transmission of results to the Headquarters of the EC as it determines the credibility of the results that were transmitted to the EC.
The application also sought clarifications on errors made by the Chairperson of the EC on December 9, 2020 when she declared the results of the presidential election.
The application for interrogatories was seeking to know when the EC boss, Jean Adukwei Mensa, who was the Returning Officer of the presidential election, first realised there were errors in the results she declared and how she got to know about those errors.
Again, the application wanted to know if prior to the corrections made by the EC after its declaration, there were any processes of comparing the results to the figures made available to the agents of the various candidates.
The application was also seeking to find out if the EC presented Form 13 to the party agents and whether or not the agents signed them.
Mr. Tsikata in his argument maintained that the questions posed by the application would help narrow down the issues before the court.
The application was opposed by Justin Amenuvor, counsel for the EC, who argued that the answers being sought by the application were already contained in Mr. Mahama’s petition as well the responses of the respondents.
He said C.I. 127 set out the processes for the EC to declare election results and the questions raised by the application were contained in the law which the commission followed.
He said the EC had already pleaded in its response to the petition that agents of Mr. Mahama had signed 13 of the 16 Form 13 and per the law, where an agent refuses to sign the form, the process must continue.
On the question seeking to clarify whether the NCA in any way facilitated the transmission of the results to the headquarters of the EC, Mr. Amenuvor argued that the petitioner was trying to use the backdoor to introduce new facts which were not contained in the petition.
He added that the matter for which the petitioner sought the interrogatories was well within his domain and should have been included in the petition, stating that “he cannot come through the back door to introduce these facts.”
Mr. Amenuvor, therefore prayed the court not to grant Mr. Mahama’s leave to serve the interrogatories as all the answers it sought are in the processes already filed before the court.
Points Of Law
Akoto Ampaw, lead counsel for President Akufo-Addo, although did not filed any affidavit in opposition, addressed the court on point of law and also urged the court not to grant the leave.
He said the interrogatories must relate to the issues between the parties, arguing that all the issues raised by Mr. Mahama’s application were not in contention.
He said those questions had been sufficiently answered and the petitioner would also have the opportunity to ask those questions during cross examination.
The seven-member panel of the court presided over by Justice Yeboah and assisted by Justices Yaw Appau, Samuel Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher, Prof. Nii Ashie Kotey, Getrude Torkornu and Mariama Owusu refused the application.
The court in its ruling held that such applications were purely discretionary and must be relevant as well as related to the issues of contention between the parties in a case.
It was the opinion of the court that the application, as filed by the petitioner made references to C.I. 47, which had been amended by C.I. 99, and as far as the application before the court was concerned, it did not establish any relevance and would be refused.
Issues For Determination
Meanwhile, the court has ordered the parties in the matter to file their issues for determination by 9:30am today as the hearing continues.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak