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Chief Justice ‘reading’ body language at Election Petition hearing?

The Chief Justice, is reading body language at the ongoing election petition hearing, and a member of the legal team for the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dominic Ayine, has become the first ‘culprit’.

Justice Kwasi Anim Yeboah, had chided the former Deputy Minister for Justice and Attorney General, for making gestures in the courtroom he; the Chief Justice considered inappropriate.

But, Dominic Ayine, MP for Bolgatanga East Constituency in the Upper East Region on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has explained that the reason for his misconduct in court on Wednesday, was because he was shocked at the proceedings in court.

“Mr Ayine, you are a senior member of the court. When the bench engages counsel, you don’t sit down and make gestures as if you are part of the legal team. I’ve been watching you. This is not fair. The other time, we heard you clearly when an objection was taken. When the representations were announced, I asked Mr Tsikata, whether they were limiting themselves to only two counsel. And he said he was with Mr Lithur. So, Mr Ayine, out of respect for you, don’t do that again,” the Chief Justice advised.

Dr. Ayine, a former Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General in the Mahama administration, apologized to the court for his actions.

According to the Supreme Court, the decision had to be taken looking at the strict timelines guiding the election adjudication dispute as contained in the constitutional instrument (C.I) 99.

The judges decided after the parties presented their memorandum of issues.

But the NDC MP for Bolgatanga East, in defense, told the media that he reacted out of shock; noting that the parties involved in the case were not consulted in the decision-making process which he said should not be the case in the practice of the profession.

Dominic Ayine, further argued that the 42-day timeline given by drafters of the rules for the election petition means that the court can deliver within the period, thus questioned the urge for a ‘speedy’ trial.

A situation, he said, he has never seen happening in his 25-year experience as a legal practitioner.

“You cannot now begin to truncate and deny the parties the right to be able to file, for instance, preliminary applications that are mandated and allowed by law just because you want a speedy trial.”

“And I was shocked at what was happening and you all realized that the CJ singled me out that my body language was inappropriate but that is because I was very shocked that after 25 years of law practice, I have never seen this happening; that a court will arbitrarily announce the timeline for the party without consultation.”

Dr. Ayine, however, wondered why neither of the parties did oppose the decision by the 7-member panel.

In his words, “I had occasioned to ask Mr Akoto Ampaw, why he did not object to the entire deadlines and sitting down there. It reminded me of an inscription that was on the desk of my secondary school rector that “don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up”.

Roadmap for the timeline of the hearing were given as;

1.Mode of trial – The petitioner and their witnesses shall file witness statements with exhibits if any, by 12 noon of Thursday, January 21, 2021.

2. The witness statements shall be filed on the counsel for the respondents by close of day on Thursday, January 21.

3. The respondents and their witnesses if any, shall file their witness statements with exhibits, if any by close of day on Friday, January 22, 2021.

4. The first and second respondents shall file their submissions on the preliminary objections raised to the petition by 12 noon on Friday, January 22, 2021.

5. The registrar shall ensure service of the preliminary objections by close of day, Friday, January 22, 2021.

6. The petitioner shall file any response to the submission of the preliminary objections by noon on Monday, January 25, 2021.

7. The registrar shall ensure service of the petitioner’s response by close of day on Monday, January 25, 2021.

8. The ruling on the preliminary objections would be incorporated in the judgement of the court.

9. The court shall sit on Tuesday, January 26, 2021, for the hearing of this petition.

Mr Tsikata among other things, wanted the court to factor what he said were some “outstanding issues” in the timeline, but that was not done.

He cited a fresh application filed by his team for a review of the court’s January 19, 2021 ruling on their interrogatories as an example of what should have been factored in the timelines.

He also suggested that the time allocated for the filing of witness statements was inadequate.

“The timeline that is provided for us to have witness statements does not seem to be justified… I do know about the schedule provided, but I also know that your lordships are here to administer justice and that justice should not be sacrificed for expedition,” Tsatsu Tsikata said in court on Wednesday.

But Justice Yaw Appau, one of the justice on the seven-member panel hearing the case, differed in view.

According to him, the application for a review of the court’s judgement on the interrogatories of the petitioner, does not amount to a stay of execution, hence the case can still go on without a decision from the requested review.

The Court subsequently adjourned to Tuesday, January 26, 2021, for hearing to commence on the substantive petition.

Source: The Herald

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