The petitioner in the just-ended election petition case, former President John Dramani Mahama sees the Supreme Court’s trial process that prevented the Electoral Commission (EC) chairperson, Jean Mensa from publicly accounting to Ghanaians as a dangerous precedence.
He simply describes it as an “embarrassing stain” to the country’s judicial and electoral systems as well as a major source of worry to well-meaning Ghanaians.
Commenting on the outcome of his petition, hours after the apex court’s judgment, Mr. Mahama told the public that the refusal of Madam Mensa to mount the witness box to clarify the error-ridden results she declared really leaves much to be desired.
“This is the clear stab in the heart of accountability to the sovereignty of the people of Ghana. Whatever the reasons for not allowing Mrs. Mensa to testify or answer questions, it leaves an embarrassing stain not only on our justice delivery system but also our nation’s electoral system”, a disturbed Mahama lamented.
More worrying to him was the fact that his legal team’s requests for interrogatories, inspection of documents and the admission of facts were all turned down by the judges.
He accused lawyers of the 1st Respondent [EC] of aiding the court and their client to avoid explaining to the good people of Ghana, “the errors that she herself committed in the declaration of the 2020 presidential results”.
“This 2020 petition will go into history for that profound moment when the chairman of the EC opted to evade public scrutiny. Everything was done in this trial to prevent the Commission from accounting to the people in whose name it holds”, he added.
While questioning the neutrality of the EC chair, Mr. Mahama said Ghanaians have been confounded because they were hoping to hear Mrs Mensa testify, alleging that she was “blocked time and again by a protective cordon and firewall.”
He noted that the situation was in sharp contrast to the readiness with which former EC boss, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Djan, willingly testified during the 2013 petition.
“Many are still baffled by the refusal of Mrs Jean Mensa to be held to account by testifying in this case unfortunately with the unanimous agreement of the justices of the Supreme Court.” he decried.
John Mahama further expressed his disagreement with the process of the trial and ruling of the Supreme Court.
Jean Mensa not testifying
On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, turned down Mr. Mahama’s request to have EC, Jean Mensa, cross-examined through a subpoena application.
This was after counsel for the EC had served notice of not opening up any defence.
Lead counsel for Mahama, Tsatsu Tsikata had earlier described Jean Mensa as a hostile witness for deciding not to testify in the election petition case.
Mr. Tsikata who had earlier closed his client’s case had wanted it reopened after the Supreme Court upheld the decision by the first and second respondents – the Electoral Commission and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo – not call any witness.
He also was seeking a decision from the court to subpoena Jean Mensa in case the application to reopen his client’s case was upheld.
How the court ruled
The justices of the Supreme Court explained that Jean Mensa cannot be tagged as a hostile witness because she had not yet mounted the witness box in the ongoing case.
The Supreme Court subsequently rejected Mr. Tsikata’s request for the case to be reopened and also to have Jean Mensa put in the witness box.
The justices of the apex court indicated that the petitioner failed to meet the threshold for which leave can be granted for a party to reopen their case to adduce further evidence.
“A witness who has not yet entered the witness box to testify cannot, therefore, be called an adverse or hostile witness under any circumstance. The petitioner has not demonstrated to us in any way that the decision of the respondents not to testify which was upheld by this court in its ruling on February 11, 2021, has occasioned any miscarriage of justice,” Chief Kwasi Anin-Yeboah read on behalf of the seven-member Supreme Court panel.