The supreme court will today, Tuesday, 9 February 2021, consider legal arguments from both sides and rule on whether it is appropriate for the first and second respondents in the ongoing presidential election petition to close their cases without subjecting their witnesses to cross-examination, despite the fact that they had filed their witness statements.
In the court on Monday, 8 February, the Electoral Commission’s lawyer, Mr Justin Amenuvor, closed the EC’s case, indicating that his side is no longer interested in calling any witnesses in the matter.
Mr Akoto Ampaw, the lead counsel for President Nana Akufo-Addo, the second respondent, also took a similar stance.
However, the lead counsel for former President John Mahama, the petitioner, opposed the arguments adduced by the first respondent for deciding against calling a witness.
Mr Tsikata argued that: “It is our respectful submission that counsel for the first respondent that not have it opened to him to take the course that he just proposed to this court. Order 36 Rule 4(3) that he referred to, specifically says: ‘Where the defendant elects not to adduce evidence’. In this proceedings, the defendant has put in a witness statement.”
The election that they made to submit the witness statement to the court, is a clear indication that they made an election to the contrary because My Lords, in these proceedings, at the point of case management, Your Lordships basically asked questions from all parties as regards witnesses being called and it is at the point of case management where such an election is notified to the court.
“At that point, they elected to submit a witness statement. Now, that witness statement is not yet in evidence; that is true, but this is referring to an election; the point of election came at the point of the case management and we are respectfully submitting that this witness cannot run away from cross-examination when they have elected”, he argued.
Chief Justice Anin Yeboah, however, asked Mr Tsikata to tone down on his choice of words, saying “evade” rather than “run away” would have been a more appropriate word to use, to which Mr Mahama’s lawyer conceded.
The Justices adjourned the case to today to rule on whether or not a witness can be forced to give testimony although he/she has filed a witness statement.
Should the court rule in favour of the respondents, it means Mrs Jean Mensa and Mr Peter Mac Manu will not be mounting the dock for cross-examination.