Lead Counsel for the petitioner in the 2020 presidential election petition, Tsatsu Tsikata, yesterday told a member of the Bench hearing the case, Justice Yaw Apau, that he asked his witness ‘irrelevant’ questions.
According to Tsikata, who many refer to as the ‘Law’, the judge posed certain questions to the first witness of the petitioner, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, which had nothing to do with the petition before the Supreme Court.
The choice of the word ‘irrelevant’, which the Counsel repeated more than twice, according to him, was to aid in answering a question another member of the Bench had asked him.
When the court sat Wednesday, February 3, 2021, the agenda was to hear an application filed by the petitioner, Mr John Dramani Mahama, to inspect some original documents of the 2020 elections in possession of the 1st Respondent, the Electoral Commission (EC).
While arguing the motion, a member of the Bench asked him what he (petitioner) would do with the documents he was requesting.
In his answer, Counsel said that he would compare what was in the possession of the Petitioner, which they regard as authentic, with that of the 1st Respondent’s to see if they are the same.
The Bench: “Mr Tsikata, I have a question. When you go to inspect them, what will you be doing?”
Mr Tsikata: “Well, we will be comparing them with documents that we have, which we regard as authentic, to see whether, indeed, they are the same. That’s what we will be doing.”
Acknowledging that Counsel for the Petitioner had not provided their supposed valid figures, the Bench asked a follow-up question: “But, you (Tsikata) don’t see the need to tell us what you have as your valid votes?”
Tsikata answered: “No, we do not have the need, because we are not the Returning Officer, with the greatest respect.”
After giving that answer, Counsel for the Petitioner brought in the bit of Justice Yaw Apau, a member of the Bench, whom he claimed asked irrelevant questions.
Tsatsu Tsikata: “…And, My Lords, with the greatest respect, this is quite an important point because His Lordship Justice Apau did ask certain questions in relation to PW1 (Petitioner Witness 1), and in our respectful submission, those questions are completely irrelevant to the issues that have to be dealt with. Because, the question, whether he has documents or not… (Akoto Ampaw interjects)
Akoto Ampaw: My Lords, if I may be heard on this. My Lords, I think Counsel (Tsikata) should argue the application.
Bench: Let him finish. He was responding to question from the Bench.
Akoto Ampaw: The question had nothing to do with what Justice Apau said.
Justice Apau: Let me answer myself (a little laughter in court following his statement). Mr Tsikata, please, that is your opinion so keep it to yourself. Whether the questions I ask were irrelevant or not, that is your opinion.
Tsikata: But, my Lords, I need to explain why I am saying they are irrelevant so that I can fully answer the question, because the question relates to the same position that your Lordship took, so I need to be heard on why I say that they are irrelevant, because I did not say that lightly.
The questions are irrelevant because we have brought a petition here on the grounds of a declaration that was made purportedly about elections held on 7th of December. The declaration stated a figure. We all heard it – 14,400 and all that; we all heard it. That declaration, till this day, is the only declaration that has been made. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah is not the Returning Officer of the election of 7th December. That is all.
Both Respondents opposed the application
Having concluded his argument for his application to inspect some documents of the EC, Counsel for the 1st Respondent stood up to inform the court that they opposed it.
After his submission, Counsel for the 2nd Respondent, Akoto Ampaw, relied on a position of the court in the 2012 election petition hearing, to also oppose the application, arguing that the applicant had carbonised copies.