The Supreme Court rulings so far and what they mean

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Since the inception of the 2020 election petition at the Supreme Court of Ghana, a number of judgements have been made. Here a close look at them and their implications.

The seven-member panel of Judges, (Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah; Justices Yaw Appau, Marful Sau, Professor Ashie Kotei, Mariama Owusu, Nene Amegatcher, and Gertrude Tokonor) were called into action when former President John Mahama filled a motion seeking to amend his election petition which is challenging the declaration of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Former President Mahama wants to change what his lawyers called an ‘inadvertent’ error in one of his reliefs in which he refereed to the EC instead of President Akufo-Addo in his petition.

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Not withstanding the resistance by lawyers for President Akufo-Addo and the EC, the seven-member panel of the apex court, agreed with Mahama and held that the amendment does not affect the substance of the petition, and therefore was granted it. It was a unanimous decision.

Then when everyone thought the pre trial was about to begin, lawyers for John Mahama filled another motion. This time seeking permission to elicit answers to some 12 interrogatories from the Electoral Commission

Lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata, the lead counsel for the John Mahama moved the motion and told the Supreme Court that the objective of the application was to “narrow down” the issues for the trial

This time around, the Apex Court disagreed with the petitioner. Once again, in an unanimous decision, the court dismissed the motion.

Below is Certified True Copy of the rulling. What is however of interest in both rulings is that all the Judges of the Supreme Court seem to be giving the same interpretation of the law so far

The Ruling

“The Petitioner/Applicant has prayed this Court to grant the application to serve interrogatories. The basis for the application as argued by learned Counsel for the Petitioner/Applicant is to assist the Court to narrow issues for the trial of this petition.

Interrogatories under Common Law is discretionary, it should be granted or refused when all the circumstances are taken into consideration. It should be noted that the questions seek to elicit answers to the issues raised by and the reliefs sought in the petition. Interrogatories must be relevant to the issues and relate to the matter in controversy between the parties, in this case, the petitioner and the 1st Respondent.

The Court is of the opinion that the crucial issue of relevancy has not been established in this application. Reference was made to the 2013 Election Petition titled: NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO & 2 ORS VRS JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA & 2 ORS [2013] SCGLR 50, in which an application to serve interrogatories was granted by this 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 Petitions.

Indeed, Rule 69(c)(4) of the Supreme Court Amendment Rules C.I. 99 directs the expeditious disposal of the Petition and sets timelines for this Court to dispose of (sic) the Petition. It implies that even amendments ought not to be sought and granted as well as joinder of parties. Subsequent statutory amendments pointed out after 2013 have provided us with [a] new procedural regime and strict timelines.

We are strictly bound to comply with C.I. 99 and therefore we will not apply Order 22 of C.I. 47 of 2004 in this circumstance. We accordingly refuse to grant the application and same is accordingly dismissed.”

BY COURT

Let the issues for determination be filed by tomorrow before 9.30 am. Hearing of the petition is adjourned to 9.30 am on 20th January, 20121.”

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