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    Supreme Court, Lawyer Amenuvor Aided Jean Mensa To Avoid Answering Questions


    File Photo: Former President John Mahama (left) and Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa (right)

     

    Former President John Mahama has accused the Supreme Court and lawyer of the Electoral Commission (EC), lawyer Justine Amenuvor, of aiding the Chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensa, from answering pertinent questions in the just-ended 2020 Election Petition Trial.

    “She was aided by her counsel and the court to avoid explaining to the good people of Ghana from her own testimony, under oath in a properly constituted court of law, the errors she herself admits to have committed in the declaration of the 2020 Presidential election results,” Mr Mahama said in his address to the nation on the evening of March 4, 2021, after the Supreme Court ruled against him in the Election Petition Trial.

    He expressed his disagreement with the process of trial and the ruling of the court, saying emphatically that “Much as I am aware that we are legally bound by the decision of the Supreme Court, I disagree with the process of trial and ruling of the court.”

     

    What happened?

    During the trial that lasted for about two months, Mr Mahama who was the  petitioner, called three witnesses namely Dr Michael Kpessa Whyte, Joseph Robert Mettle-Nunoo, both members of the National Democratic Congress, and Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of the Party.

    In his bid to have the Electoral Commission Chairperson, Mrs. Mensa, mount the witness box, Mr Mahama had his applications dismissed by the Supreme Court.

    His applications included the application for interrogatories, application for stay of proceedings, application for him to re-open his case and subpoena the EC Boss for cross examination, and application for review of the Court’s decisions.

    The two respondents declined to testify after Mr Mahama had closed his case, despite informing the Court earlier that the interrogatories being put before court during the pre-trial stage could be responded to during cross-examination.

    Akoto Ampaw, the Lead Counsel for the Second Respondent, incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo, informed the apex Court that: “We do not intend to call any witnesses to satisfy the burden of proof.”

    In the case of the EC, Mr. Amenuvor, the Lead Counsel for the Commission, held that there was sufficient evidence before the Court after the Petitioner had called in three witnesses and closed his case.

    Quoting the Court’s Rules and Constitutional Instrument (CI 87), Mr Amenuvour explained that: “We close our case. We are not calling any witnesses, we wish to rely on our witness statement filed by the first Respondent (EC).’’

    However, Lead Counsel for the Petitioner, Tsatsu Tsikata, observed that the EC could not evade cross examination, stating emphatically that the course it had taken did not form part of the case management during trials.

    Why the petition?

    Mr Mahama went to court on December 30, 2020, claiming that no candidate won the 2020 Presidential Election and, therefore, the declaration of President Akufo-Addo as the winner by the EC Chairperson was “null and void,” unconstitutional and of no legal effect.

    Mr Mahama argued that, per the results, no candidate obtained more than 50 per cent of the total valid votes cast as required by Article 63 (3) of the 1992 Constitution.

    According to him, Mrs Mensa announced the total valid votes cast as 13,434,574 minus the results of Techiman South, with President Akufo-Addo obtaining 6,730,413, representing 51.59 per cent, while he (Mahama) got 6,214,898 representing 47.366 per cent, adding that per the figures, the actual percentage for President Akufo-Addo minus Techiman South ought to be 50.098 per cent and not 51.595 per cent as announced by the EC Chair.

    Furthermore, Mr Mahama contended that his percentage minus Techiman South should be 46.26 per cent and not 47.366 per cent, saying Techiman South had a total voting population of 128,018 and if that was added to the total valid votes cast it would be 13,434,574 plus 128,018 (13,562,592).

    For him, it was grossly  erroneous for the EC to state that even if all the votes in Techiman South were added to the Petitioner’s votes, President Akufo-Addo’s votes would still remain the same at 6,730,413, now yielding 49.625 per cent whiles his (Petitioner) would increase to 6,324,907, now yielding 46,768 per cent.

    In her declaration on December 9, 2020, Mrs Mensa stated that adding all the 128,018 votes in Techiman South to the votes standing in the name of the Petitioner would not change the results was clearly wrong.

    Responses

    However, Mr Akufo-Addo and the Electoral Commission in their respective responses to the election petition, argued that the petition was incompetent, lacked merit and raised no reasonable cause of action.

    It was their argument that the petition did not meet the requirement of a Presidential Elections Petition as stated in Article 64 (1) of the 1992 Constitution and same was, therefore, incompetent.

    According to them, the petition made no allegations of infractions in the election at any of the 38,622 polling stations and 311 special voting centres, with the EC arguing further that the petition was incompetent because it did not contest “the lawfulness of votes,” obtained by any candidate at any polling station where the election was held.

    But the Commission admitted that Mrs Mensa inadvertently read the figure representing the total number of votes cast as the one representing the total number of valid votes cast and also gave the percentage of the votes garnered by President Akufo-Addo as 51.59 per cent instead of 51.295 per cent.

    However, the Commission reiterated that it corrected the errors on December 10, 2020, saying “the corrections and clarifications did not affect the overall results as declared.”

    According to the Commission, “Mr Mahama’s deliberate reliance on the figures declared on December 9,2020 to make a case that President Akufo-Addo did not obtain more than 50 per cent of the valid votes cast was misleading, untenable and misconceived.”

    Mr Akufo-Addo also argued that the corrections by the EC on December 9 were done within the powers of the EC and same did not breach any law or statute.

    Ruling

    The Supreme Court, the highest court of jurisdiction in Ghana, therefore ruled on Thursday, March 4, 2021, that indeed, Mr. Akufo-Addo won the December 7, 2020 Presidential Election.

    The Court further ruled that results declared on December 9, 2020 despite the initial inadvertent error reflected the will of the people of Ghana and therefore could not be overturned simply on the basis of the error made by the Electoral Commission (EC) during the declaration.

    In its live televised ruling monitored by African Entertainment, the Supreme Court dismissed the Petitioner, 2020 Presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama’s case ” as without merit.”

    Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anim Yeboah, who presided over the seven-member panel of justices, pronouncing the Court’s verdict in packed court, said petitioner failed to demonstrate that the errors made by the first respondent, the EC, changed the results of the elections.

    The Court in a unanimous decision, further held that, Mr Mahama cannot demand it (Court) to rely on the error of using total votes cast instead of total valid votes as a basis for calling for run-off election between him and President Nana Akufo-Addo.

    It was the ruling of the Supreme Court that it was established during the trial that the total valid votes of the election is 13,121,111.

    Going by the total valid votes as mentioned above, the Court said Mr Akufo-Addo obtained over 50% of the total valid votes as mandated by the Constitution, hence he was validly elected.

    Furthermore, it was the ruling of the Supreme Court that Mr. Mahama failed to substantiate his allegation of vote padding in favor of Mr Akufo-Addo.

    According to the Apex Court of Ghana, although vote padding is a serious issue, the alleged figures of 4,693 did not affect the outcome of the election.

    As a result, the Supreme Court ruled that it did not see the need to order a rerun as the petitioner, Mr. Mahama pleaded.

    The Court began proceedings at 10:00am on Thursday morning, March 4, in the national capital, Accra.

    The Supreme Court determined among other things, whether there was any legal grounds for the petition and whether or not President Akufo-Addo met the Article 63(3) threshold set out in the 1992 Constitution.

    Article 63(3) stipulates that a presidential candidate must obtain 50 per cent of the total valid votes cast plus one vote before the candidate is declared president elect.

    The Supreme Court also determined whether or not the declaration by the EC on December 9, 2020 was in violation of Article 63(3) and also whether or not the alleged vote padding and other errors complained about by the Petitioner affected the outcome of the presidential election results of December 9, 2020.

     

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