The Supreme Court of Ghana, speaking through His Lordship the Chief Justice of the Republic, on Thursday, February 11, 2021, reminded the petitioner in the 2020 election petition filed by John Mahama that, a petitioner/plaintiff wins a case based on the strength of his own case and not based on the supposed weaknesses of his opponents’ case. This was contained in the ruling of the court to an application filed by John Mahama’s lawyers seeking to compel the EC Chairperson to necessarily mount the witness box and give evidence in support of the EC’s case.
John Mahama, who had come to court purporting to challenge the validity of the election of President Akufo-Addo, told the court last Tuesday that he had closed his case after calling his 3rd/last witness to testify on his behalf. However, noticing how bruised and wobbly his case had become following the cross examination of his 3 witnesses whereupon they were all exposed for their lack of credibility and other frivolity, the petitioner was hoping to rely on the evidence of the Respondents to do damage control.
Counsel for the Respondents had however informed the court after the petitioner disclosed that he had closed his case, that, they (the Respondents) do not intend to lead further evidence in order to rebut the claims of the petitioner. They accordingly, prayed the court to give its final judgement on the petition based on the strength or otherwise of the petitioner’s case. Ordinarily, the petitioners should be extremely happy with this turn of events since they told the whole world that they have a good case and have been able to establish same in court.
However, that was not meant to be as the petitioners were clandestinely running away from the “strength” of their own case and banking their hopes on the possible “weaknesses” in the evidence of the EC’s case which they claim they would expose during cross examination of the chairperson of the commission. This proposition, as the court ruled, was a clear aberration of the settled principle of law that the burden of proof in litigation lies on the plaintiff in a case and not on the defendant. It is also a violation of the settled rule of law that a witness cannot be compelled to give evidence or testify in court.
Indeed, the court, in line with the common law practice underpinning judicial decision making, cited many cases (settled judicial precedents) to support its ruling on the matter, and more importantly, to make the point that a petitioner wins his case on its own strength and not on the supposed weaknesses in his opponent’s case. The court therefore declined the petitioner’s invitation to disturb age long settled judicial precedents in adherence with the ‘res judicature’ injunction.
Story by Iddi Muhayu-Deen