… As Supreme Court Rejects Their Petition To Cross-Examine Jean Mensah
The Supreme Court has thrown out John Dramani Mahama’s application to compel the first and second respondents, Jean Memsah and Peter Mac Manu in the ongoing election petition to mount the dock and be cross-examined.
According to the ruling of the Court yesterday, the EC Chair Jean Mensa and the governing New Patriotic Party’s Peter Mac Manu, respectively, cannot be forced to mount the dock.
The Bench noted that the arguments of the Petitioner’s lawyers to the contrary were not so convincing.
Reading the ruling, Chief Justice Anin Yeboah said, “We are minded to state that our jurisdiction invoked in this election petition is a limited jurisdiction clearly circumscribed by law.”
He added that, “We do not intend to extend our mandate beyond what the law requires of us in such petitions brought under Article 64 (1) challenging the validity of the election of a president. Simply put, we are not convinced, and we will not yield to the invitation being extended to us by counsel for the petitioner, to order the respondent to enter the witness box to be cross-examined”.
“Accordingly, we hereby overrule the objection raised by the counsel for the petitioner against the decision of the respondents declining to adduce evidence in this petition,” he noted.
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court set yesterday aside for the ruling after hearing arguments from lawyers for the petitioners and respondents on Tuesday, 9 February 2021.
Mr Justin Amenuvor, Counsel for the two respondents, the EC and Mr Akoto Ampaw for President Nana Akufo-Addo, had notified the court on Monday, 8 February 2021 that they had no intention of calling any witnesses.
Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, lead counsel for former President John Mahama, on Tuesday argued that: “What is being put before you now is not only an affront to justice but is not in accordance with the rules of this court, and we respectfully submit that it must not be countenanced by this court,”.
Mr Amenuvor, however, said: “It is my submission that the petitioner’s counsel cannot approbate and reprobate regarding Rule 3(e)”.
Addressing the court after cross-examining Mr Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo, the third witness of former President Mahama, Mr Amenuvor, said: “My Lords, with respect, it’s our submission that in view of the [pieces of] evidence led by the witnesses of the petitioner, and our cross-examination so far, speaking for the first respondent, I am of the view that there is sufficient evidence before the court for this petition to be determined and, therefore, my Lords, it is the first respondent’s case that we do not wish to lead any further evidence and, therefore, we are praying that this matter proceeds under Order 36 Rule 4(3) and C.I.87 Rule 3(e)(5) and, we hereby, on that basis, close our case”.
Asked by the Bench what that meant for the first respondent’s witness statement, Mr Amenuvor said: “My Lord, under C.I.87 Rule 3(e)(5): ‘If a party who has served a witness statement does not call the witness to give evidence at the trial or put the witness statement in as hearsay evidence, any other party may put that witness statement in as hearsay evidence’. So, My Lords, we are saying we are not calling any further witnesses. If [any party] decides to treat our witness statement as hearsay evidence, well, that side can treat it as such but we are not leading any further evidence”.
Mr Ampaw, who took a similar stance, also said: “My Lords, we do not intend to call any witness and my Lord, we do not intend to call any witness because, in our view, they have not satisfied the burden of proof. So, we can’t be forced to call any witness”.
However, Mr Tsikata said: “It is our respectful submission that counsel for the first respondent that not have it opened to him to take the course that he just proposed to this court. Order 36 Rule 4(3) that he referred to, specifically says: ‘Where the defendant elects not to adduce evidence’. In these proceedings, the defendant has put in a witness statement.”
In yesterday’s ruling the Supreme Court told the parties involved that the powers of the highest court of the land in electoral matters are limited.
To that end, the Court said it cannot compel any witness in the ongoing hearing to mount the witness box to testify.