Ghana’s Supreme Court has asked former Deputy Attorney General Dr Dominic Ayine to retract and apologise for some contemptuous comments he made on Tuesday, 16 February 2021.
The apex court cited Dr Ayine for contempt after the Bolgatanga East MP, who is a member of the legal team of former President John Dramani Mahama, the petitioner in the ongoing election petition, said in a post-trial address to the media that the court’s basis for dismissing Mr Mahama’s motion to reopen his case “smacked of a predetermined agenda to rule against him”.
In court on Monday, 22 February 2021, the Bench reprimanded Dr Ayine for those comments and asked him to purge himself of the contemptuous words through the same media by which he made the earlier comments.
Dr Ayine had earlier written a letter to render an unqualified apology to the court and the judiciary.
Dr Ayine’s comment came after the apex court on Tuesday, 16 February 2021, ruled that Mr Mahama could not reopen his case for the sole purpose of subpoenaing the star witness of the Electoral Commission and using her as an "adverse" witness.
In his media address, Dr Ayine said: "The Supreme Court asked itself a question, which we deem as a wrong question and answered that question. It said: why does the Chairperson need to account to the people of Ghana when she’s not a party to the suit".
"Now you’ll recall that counsel made it clear that one of the reasons we are in court is because of the unconstitutional conduct of Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa as the returning officer under the Constitution and it is not true that there is only one issue that needs to be determined in this matter", the lawmaker said.
He continued: "I am surprised that the Supreme Court itself, having set down five key issues to be determined, is now reducing the issues to one, which is whether and extent to which the evidence that we have led, shows that no one got more than 50 per cent of the votes in accordance with article 53 of the Constitution".
"But we have made it abundantly clear in the petition that there were a number of infractions".
"We are contesting even the constitutionality of the declaration that was made. We are saying that she violated article 23 of the Constitution because she’s an administrative body".
"We have also said her exercise of discretion was contrary to article 296 of the Constitution".
"These are all germane issues under the Constitution and laws of Ghana and to reduce the petition into a single-issue petition, is rather unfortunate and smacks of a predetermined agenda to rule against the petitioner in this matter".
A spokesperson for President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s legal team, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, described Dr Ayine’s assertion as “unfair to the judicial system”.
Speaking to the media, the former information minister said: “It is not fair to the judicial system, it’s not fair to our democracy, it’s not fair to the people of Ghana that when you lose an application because it is not grounded in law or because you’ve failed to meet the legal standard, then you come here and literally poison the minds of the public and make claims that they may be having a predetermined agenda. That’s scandalous of the court”.
“When you make a legal argument and it is upheld, that one is good; when you make an argument and it doesn’t meet the threshold, then it means that they are wrong in law or that they have a predetermined agenda.
“The Supreme Court has not reduced the petition to a single issue. We tried our best to transcribe the ruling and we’re waiting for the written version of it. The court said that the major issue, it didn’t say there was a single issue before it…”