General NewsLatest

Election petition review: What you don’t see from your TV screen

Why Jean Mensa keeps changing her seat?

In the game of football, the referee is the man or woman at the centre of the action and with the Election Petition, the picture is the same.

The EC Chairperson and her two deputies have been allotted seats in the middle of the courtroom, to reflect the role they are supposed to play in election matters as they go about discharging their constitutional duties.

Following the declaration of the 2020 Presidential Election, former President John Dramani Mahama has rejected the result and is currently challenging the declaration at the Supreme Court, the Highest Court of the land.

Since hearing started, by way of pre-trial hearings and subsequently, the hearing of the petition, one thing is clear. The sitting arrangements of the parties.

There are three rows and each row has five seats. Jean Mensa, the EC Chairperson sit in the middle of the chairs in the middle row and is always flanked by her two deputies Mr. Samuel Tettey and Dr. Eric Asare Bossman to her right and left respectively.

The Petitioner John Mahama, (being represented), his running mate Prof Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang, legal team members, leadership of the National Democratic Congress occupy the left-hand side of the bench while Peter Mac Manu – representing Nana Akufo-Addo, leadership of the New Patriotic Party, legal team members take the right hand side of the bench.

The sitting place of the EC Chairperson in the courtroom always attracts attention as she has always been present except on few occasions where she was late and had to be represented by Madam Sylvia Annor.

Unlike the 2012 hearing where the Supreme Courtroom was full to capacity, the 2020 hearing is different with less than 100 occupants excluding the bench and court staff allowed into the courtroom, all because of the social distancing protocol.

With Covid-19 pandemic, the judiciary like other institutions has put in place social distancing protocol to curtail Covid-19 spread.

But why is EC Chairperson keep changing her chair? Before hearing commences, staff of the judicial service and persons who have been assigned to ensure the seats are ready for use, perform their roles.

Mrs Jean Mensa, before taking her seat in the courtroom, will always ensure that, the chair she sat on previously is replaced with the next seat beside it.

She will then have it sanitised with her own sanitizer from her bag. This has been how the EC Chairperson constantly ensure that, beyond the courtroom measures, she also protects herself from the deadly pandemic.

The irony here is that one of the reasons the Petitioner is in court is because of how the EC Chairperson had to be changing figures of the 2020 Election.

But as to whether the different figures te EC used had any material effect on the results as declared, the apex court will determine that.

Parties involved

With the Petitioner John Dramani Mahama- Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia has been representing him, while Jean Adukwei Mensa represents the EC (1st Respondent) except on an occasion where she turned up late and was represented by Sylvia Annor.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had Mr Peter Mac Manu representing him with a power of Attorney.

8 Legal brains

With regards to legal representation, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata and Tony Lithur are for the John Mahama (Petitioner). Justin Amenuvor and AA Somoah Asamoah represent the EC (1st Respondent).

The 2nd Respondent Nana Akufo-Addo has four lawyers and they are Mr Akoto Ampaw, Lead Counsel and had support from Mr Frank Davies, Kweku Asirifi and Yaw Oppong.

Summary from last week’s hearing

On the week that commenced February 1, 2021, there was a continuation and conclusion of cross-examination of John Mahama’s first witness, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah. His cross-examination started on January 29.

His cross-examination was concluded by Akoto Ampaw, lead counsel for the 2nd Respondent, Nana Akufo-Addo putting questions to the witness and requesting answers aimed at discrediting the witness’ own statement.

Before hearing started, Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah cautioned Frank Davies, one of the lawyers representing Nana Akufo-Addo against granting media interviews at the end of sittings.

The CJ said the court was “uncomfortable” with Mr. Davies’ interviews because it was unethical and goes against the Legal Professional conduct and Ethical Rules of 2020.

“Mr. Frank Davies, we respectfully want to draw your attention to the Legal Professional Conduct and Ethical Rules of 2020. If you look at rule 38, the court is not comfortable with the post-trial interviews that you grant outside,” he said.

To buttress his point, the CJ while quoting from the rules, said, “A lawyer who is practising or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter that is still pending before a court shall not make an out-of-court statement or grant an interview to the media on the matter.”

The caution, the CJ said applies to all lawyers introduced in court as being involved with the case.

Inspection of documents

Following the discharge of Mr Asiedu Nketia, the petitioner indicated they would be calling the next witness on Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

But, before that, the petitioner, John Mahama, through his lawyers filed an application for inspection of documents from the EC for the original constituency presidential election result collation forms for all constituencies, constituency presidential election results summary sheet, regional presidential election summary sheets for all regions and the declaration of the presidential results form.

Dr. Michael Kpessa-Whyte, Mr. Mahama’s second witness mounted the witness box on Tuesday, February 2 and was subjected to vigorous cross-examination largely by Justin Amenuvor, lawyer for EC.

The highlight of Mr. Kpessa-Whyte cross-examination was centred on his insistence that the EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa instructed him and Mr Rojo Mettle-Nunoo to go and confer with Mr. Mahama on issues about some irregularities.

According to him, they realised 10 minutes after leaving the premises that the EC Chairperson had deceived them into declaring the Election in their absence.

Mr. Kpessa-Whyte, however, conceded that he did not speak directly with Jean Mensa.

On Wednesday, February 3, 2021, seven-member panel unanimously dismissed Mr John Mahama’s application to inspect the EC’s documents.

Potential 3rd witness

On that same day, the Petitioner’s lawyers sought leave from the court to present a potential third witness who was later revealed to be Rojo Mettle Nunoo.

Their request included the fact that the witness, due to a health situation could not be physically present in court.

The court did not sit on Thursday.

But, on Friday, February 5, 2021, the court administered the oath of a witness to Rojo Mettle-Nunoo who joined proceedings via online video conferencing and had the Registrar of the Supreme Court Matthew Antianye by his side, upon request from Akoto Ampaw with Mr Tsikata not in opposition.

23 objection, five upheld

On the 10th sitting of the court last Friday, February 5, Akoto Ampaw objected to 23 paragraphs out of 32 of Mettle-Nunoo’s statement.

After one six hours of argument for and against the objection, the court struck out five of the paragraphs.

They included paragraphs 4, 5, 6, 7 and 18.

The expectation for Monday hearing

The seven-member panel; Justice Yaw Appau, Justice Samuel Marful-Sau, Nene Amegarycher, Justice Prof Nii Ashie Kotey, Justice Mariama Owusu and Justice Gertrude Torkornoo adjourned the case to Monday, for Rojo Mettle-Nunoo to be subjected to cross-examination.

 

Please send us your articles for publication via editor@reportghana.com

Loading...

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button