UPDATE ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION PETITION HEARING. TUESDAY 19-01-2021
MOTION FOR INTERROGATORIES
The Supreme Court noted that the Petitioners had filed an application for leave to serve interrogatories the night before. By their Application, the Petitioners were seeking to have the 1st Respondent answer twelve(12) questions relating to collation and transmission of results, the involvement of NCA in transmission and errors in declaration and when they were detected.
Counsel for Petitioner submitted upon being asked by Amegatcher JSC under what rules the application was being made, that even though there were no express rules in the Supreme Court rules allowing the filing of interrogatories, they were relying on Order 22 of CI 47 and the inherent power of the Court as well as the precedent in the 2012 election petition. He then read a portion of the Judgment by Gbadegbe JSC in support of his submission.
Counsel further submitted that the interrogatories were based on the answers of the 1st Respondent to their Petition.
The Court admonished Counsel for Petitioner to avoid personalising the matter before the court by continuously mentioning the name of the Chairperson of the 2nd Respondent rather than her office.
Counsel for 1st Respondent filed an opposition to the application and in his answer to the application submitted that the answers Petitioner was seeking were already contained in the petition and the answers of the Respondents hence the application was needless. He further submitted that the Petitioners were attempting to smuggle through the back door matters which they had failed to include in their Petition and the court should dismiss same.
Counsel for 2nd Respondent made a prayer to assist the Court on the legal issues being argued and the Court granted the prayer. Counsel for 2nd Respondent submitted that, the grant of interrogatories is a discretionary power of the court and the matters in respect of which it is granted should relate to the issues in dispute. Counsel further submitted that, the interrogatories which Petitioner intended to serve did not relate to matters in dispute before the court and could be asked in cross-examination. He concluded by submitting the interrogatories amounted to fishing and the court should dismiss it. In support of his case, Counsel for petitioner also read a portion of the Gbadegbe’s decision which Counsel for the petitioner has failed to draw the Court’s attention.
DECISION OF THE COURT
After a long recess, the Court speaking through the Chief Justice dismissed the Application on the basis that interrogatories are granted having regard to all the circumstances of a case. The Court said the petitioner has failed to establish the relevancy of the interrogatories they want to serve in relation to the case they had filed. The court also noted that following the 2012 election petition, new laws have been passed to regulate how election petitions are to be conducted hence reliance of the high court rules was improper . The application was therefore dismissed.
The court solicited issues from Counsel for the parties but Counsel for the Petitioners prayed for the matter to be adjourned to Thursday since their issues were not ready and they wanted to peruse the ruling of the Court to advise themselves.
Counsel for the 2nd Respondent submitted to the Court that the business of the day was Pre-trial and Counsel for the Petitioner ought to have been ready for the business.
The Court however adjourned to 20th January, 2021 for the parties to file their issues and for case management to proceed.