The election petition filed by the Petitioner Mr. John Mahama is taking an interesting turn if events unfolding at the supreme court is anything to go by.
The petitoner filed a new processes in court seeking the leave of the court to reopen his case and then subpoena Madam Jean Mensah to testify in a new –page document filed at the supreme court moments after the court overruled its objection against the decision of the EC chairperson not to testify.
The lawyers for the petitioner says they believed Jean Mensah would be testifying on oath until she decided otherwise, earlier the supreme court in a unanimous decision upheld the application by the first and second respondents not to call any witnesses in the ongoing election petition hearing.
The decision by the apex court follows oral arguments made by the lawyers for the electoral commission and president Akufo Addo that their clients cannot be compelled to testify after the petitioner closed their case in court.
Lawyers for the EC to the surprise of many announced that madam Jean Mensah will not testify and that they also closing their case prompting an objection from lawyers from Mr Mahama.
According to Mr Kwadwo Oppong Nkrumah minister for information designate and a spoke person for the second respondent legal team, here’s what happened in court the supreme court in its ruling framed the issue before it for determination as whether or not respondents can be compelled to give evidence.
The court held that witness statements do not constitute evidence until the witness enters the box and takes the oath to indicate reliance on it. This is against the background that Mr Tsatsu had argued that by filing a witness statement the EC chairperson had elected to give testimony, moreover the supreme court in it’s unanimous ruling asserts that the law is settled, that the positions in affidavits filed in court does not constitute evidence before the court.
EC in its affidavit in opposition to an earlier demand by the petitioner to serve interrogatories stated that those questions could be asked during cross-examination.
The law is therefore settled that the party will not be compared to enter the witness box and testify in support of her case, even though she has submitted evidence, which the court explained that, that was a requirement by the court for her to submit evidence to plead her case, that does not amount to she electing to adduce evidence in court and she can so choose not to.
The court further ruled that “ an election petition also deals with witnesses who have served witness statements and have decided not to give evidence to be cross-examined we are minded to state that our jurisdiction as invoked in this election petition is a limited jurisdiction.
Clearly circumscribed by law we do not intend to extend our mandate beyond what the law requires us. If a petition is brought challenging the validity of the election of a president we expect the line of arguments and evidence to be provided, simply put we are not convinced and will not yield to the invitation being extended by counsel for the petitioner to order the respondent to enter the witness box. Accordingly we hereby overruled the obvious objection by counsel for the petitioner against the decision of the respondents, declining to induce evidence in this petition.
According to the court, the petitioner's case should stand or fail based on the strength of his case and not on the weakness of the respondents case.
The petitioner's lawyers Mr Tsatsu and Mr Tony lithur have served notice that they will be filing for a review of the case.
They will be filing an application to subpoena the chairperson of the electoral commission to answer some questions, they have been at pain to explain that they are not trying to shift the burden of proof onto the electoral commission but they are saying that as the constitutionally mandated body to organize the election and the chairperson being the returning officer of the election it is important that she takes the box to answer certain pertinent questions concerning the December 2020 general elections.
We wait to see how the new twist to the court proceedings pan out.
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