A member of John Mahama’s legal team, Dr Dominic Ayine has said that the stance taken by the apex court towards the 2020 election petition is one that places expedition above justice.
Speaking to the media after the third pretrial hearing Wednesday morning, the former Attorney General said the Supreme Court “is seeking to sacrifice justice on the altar of a so-called speedy trial.”
According to him, the actions of the apex court in reducing a 5-day timeline to 1 day arbitrarily without consulting any of the parties involved is “worrying and unfair.”
He explained that it was the Supreme Court itself that granted a 5-day timeline for a motion filed during case management and for that reason should be given the opportunity to work within that timeline.
“We had indicated in our petition that we will be calling most likely five witnesses. At the case management, a 5-day timeline was granted by the court itself in the new rules. We thought that we should be in a position to plan together with the other parties on how many witnesses we are going to call,” he said.
He added that although this decision by the Supreme Court may be drawn from the desire to avoid having a prolonged case just like the 2013 election petition case, he believes that the current set-up is unfair.
“The fact that we spent 8 months dealing with the first presidential petition doesn’t mean that now, everything we do must be geared towards atoning a speedy trial at the expense of fairness.
“You cannot now begin to truncate and deny the parties the right to be able to, for instance, file preliminary applications that are mandated and allowed by law just because you want a speedy trial,” he stated.
The Supreme Court today set 5 timelines to ensure that it meets the 42-day timeline required for an election petition as stated in its election manual.
Dr Dominic Ayine’s reaction to this decision by the judges in court today caught the attention of Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, the presiding judge for today’s hearing, who cautioned the former A-G against such overt expressions of displeasure towards the apex court’s decision.
“After 25 years of law practice, I’ve never seen this happen that a court will arbitrarily announce the timelines for the parties without consultations,” Dr Ayine said.
Meanwhile, Former Information Minister Oppong Nkrumah says it is unacceptable for the petitioner to say they that more time is needed to prepare their witness statement since John Mahama already indicated he knew who these witnesses are.
He also supported earlier comments made by the lawyers for the first and second respondents (the Electoral Commission and President Akufo-Addo) that these actions are aimed at delaying court proceedings and also to place John Mahama at the centre of a media spectacle and keep himself relevant for the 2024 general election.
The apex court has set Tuesday, January 26, to commence hearing of the petition filed by 2020 NDC Presidential Candidate, John Dramani Mahama.