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Election Petition: Tsatsu Tsikata to cross-examine Jean Mensa

The Election Petition has reached its height of seeing Jean Mensa, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, in the dock to be cross-examined by the counsel for Petitioner John Dramani Mahama.

The lawyers for the petitioner had always wanted this opportunity to examine the actions of Jean Mensa, the Returning Officer for the 2020 Presidential Election, whom the Supreme Court prevented from providing answers to 12 “interrogatories” regarding “what actually happened” during the declaration of the presidential election results, rather than the legally required steps as laid out in the Answer or Response from the EC.

When the legal processes were filed at the Supreme Court on Monday, January 18, 2021, under a procedure called “Discovery” with a specific subset called “Interrogatories” which sought to ask “12 questions” about the processes leading up to the declaration of results as explained in the EC’s own response to the petition, the Supreme Court dismissed the “Application” during its sitting on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

In their ruling, the seven-member panel of the court presided over by Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, the Chief Justice, dismissed the Application with the view that the crucial issues of relevancy had not been established by the petitioner.

Further, the court stated in their certified true copy of the ruling which Tsikata had requested for so that his team could advise itself that, “subsequent to 2013, several statutory amendments have been made by C.I. 99 of 2016 which has restricted the practice and procedure of this court as regards Election Petition”.

The court explained that even though “reference was made to the 2013 [presidential election] petition in which an application for interrogatories was granted by the Supreme Court, “Rule 69 of the Supreme Court amendment in C.I. 99 directs the expeditious disposal of petitions and set timelines for this court to dispose off the petition.”

The court continued in its unanimous decision: “It implies that even amendments brought here and granted as well as…, subsequent statutory amendments pointed out after the 2013 [presidential election petition], has provided us [ the court] with new procedural regime and strict timelines…..We are strictly bound to comply with C.I. 99 and therefore we will not apply Order 22 of C.I. 45 of 2004 in this circumstance…We accordingly refuse to grant the application and same is accordingly dismissed.”

The interrogatories by the Petitioner which was dismissed will find its way in the cross-examination of Jean Mensa, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, on Wednesday.

Before Jean Mensa mounts the witness box, however, counsels for the first and second respondents will oppose a motion by the counsels for the petitioner in a matter for a request to inspect documents.

That request has been pending for a while, but on Tuesday when Tsikata sought clarity, Justin Amenuvor told the court that the EC was unwilling to supply those documents.

The Chief Justice, therefore, directed both counsels to submit their objections by close of the day, Tuesday, to enable today’s arguments to be heard.

If the arguments take a long time, Jean Mensa may not mount the witness stand on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in the latest motion filed on Tuesday, February 2, the lawyers for the Petitioner are seeking an order to compel the Electoral Commission to produce for inspection, some documents relating to the 2020 polls.

The documents include original copies of the Constituency Presidential Election results Collation Forms (Form 9) for all Constituencies in Ghana and originals of Constituency Presidential Election Results Summary Sheets (Form 10) for all constituencies, of which all parties that took part in the December polls already have in their possession.

The Petitioner is also seeking the originals of the Regional Presidential Elections Results Collation Forms (Form 11) for all regions, originals of the Regional Presidential Election Results Summary Sheets (Form 12) for all regions, also expected to be in possession of the parties already.

Additionally, the petitioner is also seeking the original copies of the Declaration of the Presidential Results Form (Form 13) and the records of the alleged update to the purported declaration of Presidential Election Results on December 9, 2020, of four Constituencies in the Greater Accra Region.

Lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata is expected to move the motion before the Supreme Court today, February 3.

Lawyer Tsikata had indicated that the grant of the motion would determine whether or not to call another witness in the case.

The counsels for the EC and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo are expected to oppose this new motion with the reason that the Petitioner already should have his copies from his party agents from the various regions.

Find below the 12 “Interrogatories” which may be repackaged for Jean Mensa, the EC Chair, as part of her cross-examination:

  1. Was there a practice in previous Presidential Elections in the 4th Republic of collated figures from constituencies being received in “the strong room” at the Headquarters of 1st Respondent in the presence of agents of the candidates?
  2. Was that practice described in paragraph 1 herein followed in respect of the 7th December 2020 elections?
  3. Is the 7th December 2020 Presidential Election the first time Regional Collation Centres have been interposed between Constituency Collation Centres and the Headquarters of 1st Respondent?
  4. How were results transmitted from the Constituency Collation Centres to the Regional Collation Centres?
  5. How were results transmitted from the Regional Collation Centres to the Headquarters of 1st Respondent?
  6. Did the National Communications Authority facilitate in any way the transmission of results to the Headquarters of 1st Respondent?
  7. When did Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, the Chairperson of 1st Respondent and the Returning Officer for the Presidential Election, first realise there were errors in figures she had announced in her Declaration of 9 December 2020?
  8. How did Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, the Chairperson of 1st Respondent and the Returning Officer for the Presidential Election, get to realise there were errors in figures she had announced in her Declaration of 9 December 2020?
  9. In respect of the purported “corrections” made to the figures in the declaration by 1st Respondent, was there any prior process of conferring with agents of the Presidential Candidates?
  10. Did Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, the Chairperson of the 1st Respondent, present Form 13 (The Declaration of Presidential Result Form) to all the agents of the Presidential Candidates to sign; and, if so, did all of the agent’s sign?
  11. On which date did Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, the Chairperson of the 1st Respondent, post a copy of Form 13 at the Head Office of the 1st Respondent?
  12. Did the 1st Respondent record any discrepancies which were occasioned by computational and mathematical errors in the course of the collation of the results?

In addition, lead counsel for the petitioner is expected to dent the credibility of Jean Mensa by asking her to demonstrate how she calculates her figures, and why she had at least six different figures for the “total valid votes cast”. It will not be surprising also if Jean Mensa is confronted with things she may have said to Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, the petitioner’s agent at the EC for which reason both Mettle-Nunoo and Dr Kpessa-White left to confer with the petitioner, as claimed by Kpessa-White.

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