The Supreme Court has once again sat on the Election Petition hearing challenging the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election results filed by former President John Dramani Mahama.
The Court, in its fifth hearing has therefore reissued its directive for the Petitioner John Dramani Mahama to file his witness statements and respond to the Preliminary legal objection by Respondents by close of day Wednesday, 27th January, 2021.
According to the Supreme Court’s panel, failure to do so, the Court would invoke its powers to dismiss the Petition.
Hearing today commenced at exactly 9:30am. Similar to the last sitting, lead Counsel for Petitioner was not in Court when hearing started hence Tony Lithur ESQ. announced himself followed by Respondents’ lawyers. Tony Lithur ESQ. then prayed the Court for the matter to be stood down (temporarily suspended) in order for Mr. Tsikata to come to Court.
The Court in sharp rejection indicated the official time for hearing was 9:30 and that all processes filed by far have originated from the law firm of Mr. Lithur and he has been the one signing all of them hence he was competent to deal with the matter.
The Bench proceeded to ask several questions relating to the failure of the Petitioner to comply with its orders to file witness statements and a response to the written submissions of the Respondents on the preliminary legal objection. Key among these questions were:
Marful-Sau JSC: Your understanding of stay of proceedings is that you don’t file processes ordered by the Court?
Mr Lithur: Our Application is intended to stay or hold proceedings.
Marful-Sau JSC: You say stay means not to file processes but even yesterday, you filed processes so you choose and pick what to file. Let me understand you, by filing stay are you saying you need not file the witness statements and the written submission?
Torkornoo JSC also commented as follows: You filed the petition, you came to this court and submitted your cause of action and reliefs. You said you had five witnesses and we ordered all counsel to file their witness statements, why have you not filed?
Mr Lithur in all this sought to impress on the Court that the determination of their review related to the issues and the witness statements hence their decision not to file but rather file the stay.
Appau JSC further quizzed Counsel as follows:
Appau JSC: Are you saying that in case the review is refused, you would not file witness statements?
Mr. Lithur- we would file without the issues in the application.
Appau JSC: Then why not comply and when it is granted, you file a supplementary. Why are you not obeying the orders of court but you want the Court to hear you.
The Court then went into recess.
RETURN FROM RECESS
The Court resumed at 10:23am and the CJ read a ruling
The Court noted in its ruling that at pre-trial on 20th January, 2021, it settled issues and gave directions for filing of witness statements and submissions on preliminary legal objection and responses thereof. The Court further stated that while all Respondents have complied fully with its orders, Petitioners have failed to do same but rather filed a stay of proceedings.
The Court then stated that before it listens to the Petitioner on its interlocutory applications, Petitioner should comply with its prior orders and whatever issues arise from the hearing of Petitioner’s interlocutory application can be incorporated into the hearing of the matter during trial.
The Court strongly deprecated, the Petitioner’s in refusing to comply with the orders of the Court, yet, seeking audience from the same Court. The Court then drew Petitioner’s attention to Rule 69(C)(4B) of C.I. 99 which empowered it to dismiss a petition where a party fails to file processes relating to the petition within specified time and how those provisions have been reproduces in C.I. 87 of the High Court.
The Court then reissued its directive for Petitioner to file his witness statements and respond to the Preliminary legal objection by Respondents by close of day Wednesday, 27th January, 2021 failing which the Court would invoke its powers to dismiss the Petition.
Counsel for the Petitioner expressed his gratitude to the Court and the matter was adjourned to Thursday, 28th January, 2021.