Election 2020 petition: Mahama’s second witness, Kpessa-Whyte, grilled and discharged

Dr Michael Kpessa-Whyte claimed in court that before the results were declared, the EC boss “instructed” him, together with Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, to leave the National Collation Centre and consult John Mahama over their reservations

The second witness for the petitioner (John Dramani Mahama) in the Election 2020 petition at the Supreme Court, Dr Michael Kpessa-Whyte, was on Tuesday grilled by lawyers for the first respondent (the Electoral Commission) and second respondent (President Akufo-Addo) in a bid to discredit him and the petitioner’s case.

Dr Kpessa-Whyte was one of two members of the petitioner’s political party (the National Democratic Congress), who represented him (the petitioner) at the EC’s National Collation Centre during the 7 December 2020 elections.

Instructed, asked or advised to leave NCC

During cross-examination, Dr Kpessa-Whyte sought to indicate that just before the chairperson of the Electoral Commission and returning officer for the presidential elections declared the election results on 9 December 2020, he was “instructed”, together with his colleague Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, to leave the EC National Collation Centre to consult with the petitioner.

However, he said, on their blind side, the EC chairperson decided after they had left to announce the results of the election without giving them an opportunity to register reservations they had about the results from some regions.

The lead lawyer for the EC, in response to this claim by the witness, inquired whether or not the witness, Kpessa-Whyte, ever spoke directly with the EC. His answer was in the negative. He claimed, however, that Jean Mensa spoke with his colleague, Mettle-Nunoo.

Sign required forms

Another controversial matter which came up during cross-examination was whether or not the NDC’s trained agents signed off the election results at the polling station, constituency and regional levels during 7 December 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.

While the lead counsel for the EC, Justin Amenuvor, argued that the NDC agents had appended their signatures on the face of all the required forms, Dr Kpessa-Whyte insisted that the fact that his party’s agents signed the required forms did not automatically mean that he was obliged, together with Mettle-Nunoo, to sign and certify the same.

However, he confirmed in court that his colleague, during the entire process from 7-9 December 2020, had certified 13 out of the total 16 regions.

Vacating post

The third issue in contention was regarding “Form 13”, the final form required to be completed at the EC National Collation Centre for all participating political parties to sign.

On 9 December, before Form 13 could be completed, the witness and his colleague left the National Collation Centre, allegedly on the instructions of the EC chairperson, Jean Mensa. Hence Kpessa-Whyte’s claim in court that they (the agents for the petitioner) were never given an opportunity to sign or register their displeasure on the forms as required by law.

Justin Amenuvor suggested to Dr Kpessa-Whyte, however, that together with Mettle-Nunoo he left the EC National Collation Centre when they realised that their candidate, John Dramani Mahama (the petitioner), had lost the election. They could not have taken instructions from the EC chairperson under any circumstances, he said.

Question of clarification

Members of the bench, including Justices Yaw Appau, Samuel Marful-Sau, Gertrude Torkornoo and Mariama Owusu, in an effort to establish clarity on some of these matters, sought to find out from the witness whether or not he had been explicitly instructed, asked or advised by the EC chair to vacate the premises of the EC.

The witness responded that he had used the three words interchangeably, but in actual fact he had been “instructed” by the EC chair.

The judges further sought clarity on how the witness had received the “instruction” from the EC chair, because he had claimed under oath not to have spoken personally or directly with her. The witness said he received the “instruction” through Mettle-Nunoo.

Next court sitting

The presiding judge, Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, adjourned sitting to Wednesday 3 February 2021.

At tomorrow’s sitting, the petitioner is expected to move his latest application praying the Supreme Court to order the EC to permit him to inspect all original documents with regard to Election 2020 which are in the ECs custody.

Jean Mensa, the witness for the first respondent (EC), as chair of the Commission, is expected to go into the box for cross-examination by lawyers for the petitioner and the second respondent.

Wilberforce Asare

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