“Tsatsu will make her piss herself in the witness box”, “Tsatsu will embarrass her in the witness box’’, ‘’I can’t wait for the showdown between Tsatsu and Jean Mensa’’ among others, was how a section of the Ghanaian people particularly the neutrals, anticipated the cross-examination between the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Jean Adukwei Mensa and lead Counsel for the Petitioner, Tsatsu Tsikata at the hearing of the 2020 election petition hearing which dominated media space in Ghana since the turn of 2021.
For a section of the population, it was a foregone conclusion that the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Jean Mensa will mount the witness box, and that moment will provide the Petitioner and his lawyers the opportunity to show to the Ghanaian people that a rerun of the 2020 presidential election must happen.
The section of the population that held that view based their conviction on the fact that the chairperson of the first respondent had elected to adduce evidence at the case management stage of the hearing.
Beyond that, there were those who had taken a cue from the 2012-2013 Supreme Court election petition precedent which saw then Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Dr Afare Gyan mount the witness box to give testimony when then candidate Akufo-Addo and his running mate Mahamudu Bawumia and the late Obetsebi-Lamptey went to court to seek the annulment of some votes because of some irregularities.
The star witness during the 2012-2013 hearing was Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; an unlikely witness who used the witness box as a springboard to carve out a political niche for himself.
Catchphrases like “you and I were not there” and, “pink sheet”, were widely used by Dr Bawumia at the gruelling election petition hearing. In what could arguably pass as the fiercest cross-examination in Ghana’s judicial history, Dr Bawumia who also became known as Dr Pink Sheet, took the silver bullet questions that were put to him by arguably Ghana’s best lawyer, Tsatsu Tsikata in his stride and answered same to the best of his abilities.
Fast forward to the 2020 election petition, neutrals and supporters of the NDC which the petitioner belongs to, and even some members of the governing NPP were highly expectant of a cross-examination between Jean Adukwei Mensa the second chairperson of the Electoral Commission in three years, following the dismissal of Charlotte Osei in June 2018 after taking office in 2015.
The expectant population counted down the days and the witnesses who appeared in the witness box to give testimonies. They even became more expectant on the day Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, the third and last witness whose statement was delivered virtually via Zoom, rounded up his own witness statement which presented both charged and hilarious moments of the election petition hearing.
Exchanges like “I have a temperament for fairness, I have a temperament for telling the truth, I have a temperament that makes me want to fight to defend the integrity of my name,” by Rojo Mettle Nunoo, and response like “You have a temperament known as an ungovernable character,” by lead Counsel for the Electoral Commission, Justin Amenuvor, marked the charged moment of that particular cross-examination and the hearing itself.
The provision of tea with or without biscuits also provided a hilarious moment at the court as it generated spontaneous laughter in court and among those who screened the hearing in their homes and even offices.
With the last witness called and cleared and the lead counsel of the Petitioner closing petitioner’s case, naturally, and taking a cue from precedent in 2012-2013, the next person many looked forward to seeing mount the witness box was Jean Adukwei Mensa, Chairperson of the first respondent, the Electoral Commission.
As expressed earlier, that expectation was based on the fact that the chairperson had elected through her witness statement, that she will avail herself and provide some information and clarify concerns that were being raised by the Petitioner and his Lawyers when she mounts the box to defend the conduct of the 2020 election and the December 9 declaration of president Akufo Addo as president-elect.
So after Rojo Mettle-Nunoo’s testimony, and with the high point moment of the hearing beckoning, those who have been enthralled in the hearing had prepared their popcorn and properly checked the sound and video of their television sets in readiness to screen what they had tagged as the best part of the hearing; Tsatsu Tsikata versus Jean Adukwei Mensa.
Then out of the blue, lead Counsel for the first respondent, Justin Amenuvor stood up and told the court that he will not be inviting Jean Mensa to mount the witness box and testify even though she had elected to do so by adducing evidence at the case management stage of the hearing.
He argued that the petitioner and the three witnesses who mounted the witness box failed to make a case that will warrant his client to mount the box and provide the information she had pledged to give when she elected to do so by filing her own witness statement.
Similarly, lawyer for the second respondent Akoto Ampaw also followed suit by arguing that he was not going to call his witness Mark Manu to mount the witness box.
He also argued that the first respondent, his lawyers, and the three witnesses failed to make a strong case that warrants his client and witness to mount the box. Both of them prayed the Supreme Court to go ahead and deliver their judgement based on the evidence they have gathered from the Petitioner and his Witnesses.
That request by counsels for the first and second respondent tasted sour in the mouth of those who had waited with bated breath for that very moment; a moment that will see Jean Adukwei Mensa ‘pissing herself’ in the witness box. They waited for so long, their popcorn began to turn soggy.
They however took solace in the fact that the court had set a date for the parties to back their initial position not to call their witnesses with arguments and so when the day came for arguments to be deposited, the neutrals were hopeful that the court will yield to their wish and that of the Petitioner, and order the Chairperson to ‘shame’ the Petitioner at least in both competent court of law and in the court of public opinion by mounting the witness box.
But disappointment was what they got when the court ruled that Jean Adukwei Mensa will not mount the witness box to give any testimony at the 2020 election petition hearing.
At this point, those who had waited for that cross-examination with their popcorn, reluctantly squelched on the popcorn that had at this time turned soggy because there will be no ‘showdown’. They had a contrary opinion but the seven Justices of the Supreme court who presided over the petition had the final say on that matter.
In the end, the Judges dismissed the petition filed by former President John Dramani Mahama and described same as being ‘‘without merit’’, making Jean Adukwei Mensa “a spectator in her own court”.
Now in hindsight and considering how the Judges in their judgment used petitioner’s star witness’ testimony ‘’we are not in court to challenge the figures’’ against the petitioner and his petition, it now makes a lot of sense that all the respondents at the Supreme Court went the extra mile and fought off all legal arguments put forward by Lawyer Tsastu Tsikata to ensure that the most anticipated cross-examination; Tsatsu Tsikata versus Jean Adukwei Mensa, never was.
If that had happened, perhaps the court would have been obliged as it did with Asiedu Nketia’s testimonies, to rely on concession of guilt expressed by the chairperson of the Electoral Commission in their judgement and if that had happened, perhaps a different air would have been blowing over the peaceful West African nation.
The decision by the Justices of the Supreme Court not to allow the chairperson of the first respondent to mount the witness box and account for her stewardship and the December 9 declaration, pained many.
And it goes without saying that the one who felt the pain the most is the Petitioner and former president John Dramani Mahama.
So it came as no surprise when in the speech he delivered to express his disagreement with the processes and final judgement at the Supreme Court, he spent a considerable amount of time to vent and express the frustration and disappointment of millions who looked forward to the cross-examination between Tsatsu Tsikata and Jean Adukwei Mensa to clear any doubt they had about the elections and the controversial declaration.
The former president described the court’s decision not to allow the chairperson mount the witness box as “a stab in the heart of accountability”.
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