Out of 23 paragraphs objected to by Akufo-Addo’s lawyers against Rojo Mettle-Nunoo’s witness statement, the Supreme Court upheld five
The Supreme Court has expunged five out of the 32-paragraphed witness statement of Joseph Robert Mettle-Nunoo, third witness of the petitioner (John Dramani Mahama) in the ongoing election 2020 petition.
At the commencement of the 11th hearing since the petition was filed at the apex court on 30 December 2020, lawyer for the petitioner, Tsatsu Tsikata, led Mettle-Nunoo to present his witness statement as evidence before the court.
This paved way for lawyers of the 1st and 2nd Respondents to cross-examine the witness. However, before cross-examination could start, lawyer for the 2nd Respondent, Akoto Ampaw, raised issue with 23 paragraphs of the witness statement of the third witness of the petitioner. He argued that the said paragraphs were not in the pleadings of the petitioner and that his witness could not be seen introducing the claims he had made in his witness statement before the court.
Contended portions of witness statement
The paragraphs identified by the 2nd Respondent for purposes of praying the court to strike same out were a total of 23, namely; parts of paragraph four (4), five (5), six (6), Seven (7), eight (8), nine (9), ten (10), eleven (11), twelve (12), parts of paragraph fifteen (15), sixteen (16); parts of paragraph seventeen (17), eighteen (18), nineteen (19), twenty (20), twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four (24), twenty-five (25), twenty-six (26), twenty-nine (29), thirty (30), and thirty-one (31).7
Lead counsel for the petitioner, Tsatsu Tsikata opposed the submissions of the lawyers of the Respondents. He argued in part that the witness statement of the petitioner’s third witness is in answer to the pleadings of the 1st Respondent in its answer to the petition and for that matter, the claim that the witness statement was not pleaded by the petitioner himself was totally immaterial to the validity of the witness statement of Mettle-Nunoo.
Ruling of the court
The Supreme Court panel of seven, presided over by Chief Justice Anin Yeboah, which also included Justices Yaw Appau, Samuel Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher Kotey, Mariama Owusu and Gertrude Torkonoo struck out five paragraphs out of the 23 sought by the 2nd Respondent.
The court indicated in its ruling that paragraphs four (4), five (5), six (6), seven (7) and eighteen (18) of Mettle-Nunoo‘s witness statement did not have any foundation in the pleadings of the petitioner and could not remain in the witness statement. The court added that the remaining 18 paragraphs the 2nd Respondent challenged ought to remain because they were pleaded by the petitioner.
Paragraphs struck out
The five (5) paragraphs that were struck out of the witness statement of Mettle-Nunoo were;
“It is my understanding also that the specific role of the Chairperson of the EC as the sole Returning Officer is provided for in the Constitution and in the same Regulations. Prior to her so-called declaration on 9 December 2020, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission did not perform the duties she was supposed to perform in order to be able to declare a winner of the election as she attempted to do. In the entire period after the election on 7th December 2020 she made a couple of very brief visits to the strong room”.
“The EC had a video documentary person recording events in the strong room and I have no doubt that, if that documentary is available in its authentic version, it will confirm what I am saying in this witness statement about things that occurred in the strong room.”
“Dedicated fax machines, printers and computers were provided for the strong room that were to receive faxes from fax machines at the regional collation centres in full view of agents of candidates and, then, projected on an overhead projector in the strong room, as the results were received. EC Officials manned the fax machines. On 9th December 2021, for many hours, the fax machines in the strong room were not working. One could see the frustration on the faces of many of the dedicated fax machine EC personnel. The fax transmission was also slow”.
“Instead of that pre-arranged transmission system for the regional collation sheets to be transmitted to the head office of the Electoral Commission, what happened part of the time was that one of the Deputy Director of the EC, Dr. Sereboe Quaicoe, would, from time to time, bring into the strong room what was claimed to be a regional collation sheet. How he got that sheet was not disclosed.”
“In respect of the Northern Region, we observed two regional results summary sheets were brought into the National Collation Centre strongroom, one was without signatures of the agents for the candidates and the second has no signature of the NDC agent for the region, but had signatures for NPP, GUM, CPP and PPP. Only by getting the originals of these documents can there be clarity on exactly which is the genuine form from the region”.
Next court hearing
Subsequently, the Supreme Court adjourned sitting to Monday 8 February 2021 for the cross-examination of Mettle-Nunoo, who for health reasons, was to be cross-examined via Zoom meeting platform.