Timeline of 2020 election petition: A busy January for parties, apex court
Ghanaian voters queued on December 7, 2020, across the country to cast ballots in the general elections – parliamentary and presidential – to vote.
After a tense January 8, the Electoral Commission, EC, declared incumbent Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the winner of the presidential elections.
In this piece, Ghanaweb tracks key occurrences since former President John Dramani Mahama filed a petition seeking a rerun of the vote that gave Akufo-Addo his second and final term in office.
This article looks at a busy February for all the parties and the Supreme Court panel hearing the case. The month of January is in focus.
December 30, 2020 – Petition filed
The petitioner posted on his social media handles that his petition had been duly filed: “My lawyers this afternoon filed before the Supreme Court, a petition challenging the results of the 2020 Presidential Election declared by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.
“The Petition details serious violations of the 1992 Constitution by the EC & seeks among others, a declaration that the purported declaration of the 2020 Presidential Election results is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”
January 14, 2021 – Day One of the petition hearing
On day one, the seven-member panel of judges sitting on the case was officially announced. It was to be headed by the Chief Justice, Kwesi Aning Yeboah. The other members were Gertrude Torkornoo, Samuel Marful-Sau, Yaw Appau, Nii Ashie Kotey, Mariama Owusu, and Nene Abayateye Ofoe Amegatcher.
The first sitting was a short one, mainly with two issues in focus. The first was the application for live transmission of the court’s proceedings and the second, a motion filed by the petitioner, John Mahama, for an amendment of initial processes filed to the court.
The court said it had already activated processes for live transmission and also granted the petitioner leave to amend his application.
Mahama who was in court tweeted after the decision: “The Supreme Court this morning granted the motion for amendment of my petition challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election declared by the Electoral Commission.”
January 19, 2021 – Interrogatories motion thrown out
On the eve of this hearing (January 18), the petitioner filed a motion asking the chairperson of the first respondent, Mrs. Jean Adukwei Mensa to acknowledge that she made errors during her declaration of the election results.
Among other things, Mahama sought that the EC Chairperson admits that the figures and percentages announced during the December 7, 2020 declaration if summed up will come to 100.3% instead of 100%.
The court described the request as irrelevant ruling that the interrogatories were irrelevant to the case. They unanimously dismissed the petitioner’s application.
January 20, 2021 – Issues for trial announced plus other orders
Yet another motion from the petitioner, this time demanding original pink sheets from the EC. Mahama was among other things demanding: “Originals of the Constituency Presidential elections results from Collation forms (Form 9) for all constituency in Ghana.”
The court attended to the new motion and dismissed it before going on to announce timelines for the case to proceed. This, despite having ruled the previous day that parties should file their suggestions on how the case management should proceed.
The issues for the trial were (paraphrased):
a. Whether or not Petitioner’s petition discloses a reasonable cause of action?
b. Whether or not based on the statement of results by the EC, the 2nd Respondent crossed the threshold in article 63?
c. Whether or not the 2nd Respondent by the exclusion or inclusion of the votes in Techiman South Constituency crossed the threshold in article 63(1)?
d. Whether or not the alleged case of votes padding affected the results of the 2020 elections?
e. Whether or not the declaration of 9 December 2020 breached article 63 of the 1992 Constitution?
The court also announced the following timelines:
1. The petitioner and witnesses shall file witness statements with exhibits, if any, by the noon of Thursday, January 21, 2021.
2. The witness statements shall be served on the counsels for the respondents by the close of Thursday, January 21, 2021.
3. The respondents and the witnesses, if any, shall file their witness statements with exhibits, if any, by the close of the day on Friday, January 22, 2021.
4. a. The first and second respondents shall file submissions on the preliminary objections raised to the petition by 12 noon of January 22.
b. The registrar shall ensure service of the aforementioned submissions by close of Friday, January 22.
c. The petitioner shall file any response to the submission of the preliminary objections by Monday, Jan 25.
d. The registrar shall ensure service of the petitioner’s response by close of Monday, January 25.
e. Ruling on the preliminary objections will be incorporated in the final judgment of the court.
January 24, 2021 – Mahama files stay of proceedings
Mahama’s lawyers also filed a stay of proceedings arguing that the court needed to hear their application on interrogatories review before proceeding with the hearing. Both respondents opposed the motion calling it baseless and lacking merit. The court moved the hearing on the motion to a later date.
January 25, 2021 – Mahama applies to replace portions of the original statement
The petitioner filed another application, a day to the next hearing. Mahama was seeking leave to review among other things and to replace portions of his original statement of the petition.
He also wanted to file a supplement to his statement of the case. His legal team said at the time that the Court will be provided further information if the application was granted.
The new application sought to replace paragraph 28 of the original statement of the case and file a supplement to the statement of the case. Paragraph 28 of the petitioners’ initial review document stated among others that “there is no reference in rule 69(c) 4 of CI 99 to amendments. It is rather 69 A (6) which provides as follows.”
January 26, 2021 – Court warns Mahama’s lawyers
The petitioner’s lawyers received censure from the panel has failed to obey the court’s directive to submit their witness statements by January 22.
The court on January 21 whiles giving directions ordered all the parties to file their witness statements to pave way for the hearing of the substantive case.
Mahama’s team rather filed a stay of proceedings pending the review of the court ruling on their interrogatories. Most of the justices expressed stern views.
Chief Justice Anin Yeboah dismissed all explanations by the petitioner’s lawyers stressing that they had opted to file different motions instead of obeying the court.
January 27, 2021 – Witnesses known as parties file witness statements
A senior lecturer at the University of Ghana and a leading member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Michael Kpessa-Whyte and the party’s general secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, are the two witnesses testifying for John Mahama in the 2020 election petition.
Meeting the Supreme Court’s deadline to file his witness statements today, 27 January 2021, Mahama limited his witnesses to two instead of the five his lawyers had initially indicated while filing the petition.
Mahama’s lawyers failed to comply with the apex court’s orders to file the statements by 21 January and instead filed an application seeking to stay proceedings at the Supreme Court until his application for review of the Supreme Court’s decision on an earlier application for interrogatories has been heard.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will be forced to apply the rules including throwing out the 2020 election petition by former President John Mahama if he fails to comply.
The first respondent, the Electoral Commission, filed one witness statement in support of its case, is Jean Mensa. The second respondent, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, by a power of attorney dated 15 January 2021 appointing Peter Mac Manu to testify on his behalf, has also filed one witness statement.
January 28, 2021 – Petitioner dismissed twice, date set for the first witness
The petitioner suffered yet another dismissal when the court refused him leave to file “an additional – ground of review” to the review application on the interrogatories.
The second dismissal was in respect of a review application for the ruling against the interrogatory questions presented in court by lead Counsel, Lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata. Both lawyers of Jean Mensa and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo opposed the motion.
A week after the petitioner filed for a stay of proceedings, his counsel moved for the withdrawal of the application they filed on January 21, 2021. The court accepted the withdrawal with the reason that once the petitioner had submitted his witness statements, the application was no longer relevant.
The court announced that the first witness of the petitioner was due in the witness box for cross-examination during the next sitting which was slated for January 29.
January 29, 2021 – Asiedu Nketia mounts witness box
The 7-member panel started hearing the substantive case with cross-examination of witness statements by the petitioner’s first witness.
The witness, Johnson Asiedu Nketia had earlier accused Electoral Commissioner, Jean Mensa of biases on the basis that she had a familial relationship with the first lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo.
Whiles in the box, 10 paragraphs of Nketia’s witness statements were objected to by the lawyer for the second respondent, Akoto Ampaw.
According to him, the statements by Mahama’s witness in these paragraphs (6, 7, 21, 25, 26, 28, 30, 32, 33, and 37), were scandalous, prejudicial, and not relevant on the pleadings of the petition. The court allowed three portions to stand but expunged the remaining seven.
The hearing was subsequently adjourned to February 1, 2021.
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