Information Minister-designate and member of the respondents’ legal team in the ongoing 2020 election petition hearing, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has hinted that they may be compelled to subpoena former President John Dramani Mahama who happens to be the petitioner to the Supreme Court if his lawyers do the same to Electoral Commission chairperson Jean Mensa.
He said this while addressing a press conference outside the Supreme Court on Thursday, February 11, 2021.
This follows the petitioner’s lawyers who have indicated that they plan to reopen their cases in order to allow the EC Chair, Jean Mensa to respond to questions concerning the rejected declaration of the 2020 elections.
The Supreme Court had ruled that Jean Mensa could not be compelled to mount the witness box to be cross-examined by the petitioner’s lead counsel Tsatsu Tsikata.
The legal team of the petitioner concluded its case on Monday February 8, 2021 after the three witnesses had been interrogated by the lawyers of the respondent.
The lawyers of the respondents then told the court that they did not want to call a witness, urging the court to proceed.
In their opinion, after cross-examining the witnesses of the petitioner and taking into account the witness statements submitted to the court and the reliefs sought by the whole of the petition, they believed that the petitioner made no revolutionary argument justifying their call to witnesses.
The respondents’ lawyers’ submission triggered a debate in court before the bench adjourned the hearing to the next day, Wednesday, February 9, 2021.
When the hearing resumed the next day, the petitioner’s lead counsel spent hours trying to convince the court why it should compel the EC chairperson to be cross-examined, while the bench insisted that it would be a violation of her human right to force her to testify against her will.
However, Tsatsu Tsikata insisted that at the time the respondents’ lawyers made the oral submission to the court that they did not intend to call any witnesses, the first respondent’s chairperson had already “elected” to testify, so it was too late to change her mind.
Mr. Tsikata argued that by the constitutional duty imposed on the Electoral Commissioner as a public servant, she is required to render an account to Ghanaians as to how she executed her constitutional duty of declaring who duly won the 2020 presidential election.
He further argued that by the witness statement of the first respondent which its chairperson signed and, in several affidavits filed to the court in response to the petitioner’s refused application to serve interrogatories on her among others, she had indicated that she would be available to provide the answers being sought during cross-examination when she mounts the witness box.
After hearing all the legal arguments and citation of several precedents amidst disagreements between Mr. Tsikata and members of the bench, the apex court, on Thursday, February 11, 2021, ruled in favour of the respondents’ choice not to adduce evidence by calling any witnesses.
The court simply said that the EC chairperson cannot be compelled to testify against her will, adding it would be wrong in law. It cited several precedents to back its decision.
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