Former Attorney General Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong has said that the ruling of the Supreme Court that witnesses cannot be compelled to testify in the ongoing hearing of the election petition is an endorsement of a “wishy-washy” argument mounted by lawyers of the respondents.
Speaking to journalists after court proceedings on Thursday, February 11, she said: “You all followed the proceedings today and of course starting from Monday. On Monday, the petitioner closed his case after calling three witnesses. After closing his case, the respondents’ counsel informed the court that they had elected not to mount the witness box.
“What that meant was that the Chairperson [of the EC], Jean Mensa, and the representatives of the 2nd respondent, Mr Mac Manu, were not going to mount the witness box to testify and be cross-examined by counsel for the petitioner, Mr Tsikata.
“You all recollect that they had filed witness statements in the case. So, naturally, counsel for the petitioner opposed this request or application by the respondents on the grounds that not only had they filed the witness statement but by two affidavits by which they opposed our request for them to answer interrogatories and for them to produce certain documents, the chairperson particularly had said she will be available for cross examination.
“The petitioner’s point was that under the specific rule, Order 36, they [Respondents] had elected by this particular conduct to adduce evidence in court and, therefore, it was no longer open to them to tell the court that they were not going to give evidence.
“Of course, on Monday you heard the superior, compelling arguments by Mr Tsikata and, of course, you heard the wishy-washy arguments by the respondents. Nevertheless, the court had ruled in favour of the respondents, saying that they do not agree with us.”
The Supreme Court has told the parties involved in the ongoing election petition hearing 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.
“We are minded to state that our jurisdiction to invoke this Election Petition is a limited jurisdiction, merely circumscribed by law. We do not intend to extend our mandate as the law report requires of us in such petition before us challenging the validity of the election of a president.
“Simply put, we are not convinced by 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 moved by Counsel for the petitioner against the decision of the respondents,” Chief Justice Anin Yeboah said in a ruling on whether or not the Chair of the Electoral Commission (EC) can mount the witness box for cross-examination.
Lawyer for the petitioner Tsatsu Tsikata, after the court ruling on Thursday, served notice to re-open his case to enable him to subpoena Chair of the Electoral Commission Jean Adukwei Mensa.
Mr. Tsikata told the court on Thursday, February 11 that: “We are applying to reopen our case and on that basis, we are issuing a subpoena addressed to the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.”
He added: “We also intend to apply for a review of the ruling.”
The hearing has been adjourned to Thursday, February 18.