’The Law vs Lords of the Law’: Tsikata’s clashes with the bench in 2020 election petition

Tsatsu Tsikata is the lead counsel for John Dramani Mahama Tsatsu Tsikata is the lead counsel for John Dramani Mahama

His admirers call him 'The Law' which is an eulogy to his status as a legal colossus and claims that he is the nation's foremost counsel.

His calm yet eloquent, engaging and mostly-precise legal submissions has won him the love of many who have elevated him to the above-stated status.

Recent history of the country's legal fraternity will be incomplete without a mention of Tsatsu Tsikata who has been involved in a number of high-profile cases.

One of Tsatsu's standout appearances was with the 2012 election petition where he represented the National Democratic Congress, helping pull victory for then president John Dramani Mahama against Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party.

Eight years on, Tsatsu is in court again, leading petitioner John Mahama's bid to have the results of the 2020 presidential election annulled. He is up against equally respectable lawyers in Justin Amenuvor of the Electoral Commission and Akoto Ampaw representing president Akufo-Addo.

Refereeing this match are seven justices of the Supreme Court with Chief Justice Kwesi Annin-Yeboah presiding.

It is a meeting of the 'The Law' and the 'Lords of the Law' and when that happens you can surely expect some drama to unfold.

So far, a few incidents of dramatic exchanges have ensued between Tsikata and specific judges and at times the bench as a whole.

GhanaWeb highlights a number of them below:

Tsatsu clashes with Justice Nene Amegatcher

The first legal exchange that was traded between Tsatsu and the bench was when Justice Nene Amegatcher raised objections to his constant reference to the first respondent as Jean Mensa instead of the chairperson of the electoral commission on On January 19, 2021 .

Justice Amegatcher argued that Tsatsu was wrong to mention the name of the EC chair as anyone could be drafted into that position.

Tsatsu insisted that by mentioning her name instead he was referring to the position as well.

Justice Amegatcher, JA: Why wouldn't you limit your references to the office rather than the personality. It seems to me that your attack is with the personality and not the office…We will be happy if you just limit it to the office and not the EC because in her absence any of her deputies could step in.

Tsatsu Tsikata, TT: Respectfully my lord, there is only one Returning Officer for the presidential election and that is the EC chairperson.

NA: Let's leave it at that, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission and not her person.

TS: But my Lord, she is the Chairperson and she has a name, or am I not allowed to mention the name of the Chairperson?

Don't sacrifice justice for expedition

Tsatsu Tsikata was uncomfortable with what he observed to be a position by the judges to expedite the case at the expense of justice.

The court after a pre-trial period sitting spelt out the five issues it will consider for the case.

Tsatsu felt the pre-trial period was rushed and urged the justice not to "sacrifice justice for expedition".

"The timeline that is provided for us to have witness statements does not seem to be justified," he celebrated legal practitioner said, as quoted by Citinewsroom.

"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 said on January 20, 2021.

Tsatsu clashes with Justice Mariama Owusu / Chief Justice

The counsel for petitioner John Dramani Mahama filed an application demanding the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission to answer some 12 questions.

The court during sitting on January 28 rejected the application but before that Tsatsu exchanged some words with one of the two female judges on the panel.

Justice Mariama Owusu advanced that Tsatsu was jumping the gun as he will have a chance to ask those set of questions during cross examination.

The Chief Justice interjected and quizzed "are you attempting to cross a bridge you have not reached"?

Tsatsu Tsikata replied: "Good, I believe you put that bridge there. Your Ladyship put that bridge there."

Harassing the witness

Justice Yaw Apau's accusation of Dr Kpessa Whyte as shirking responsibility as a representative of the petitioner in the EC's strongroom was not well received by Tsatsu Tsikata who criticized the judge.

Tsatsu stated that: "My Lords, His Lordship is entitled to his opinion about what the petitioner did. In terms of factual evidence about what he did and the reason adduced.

"In terms of what the petitioner did and why he did it, he has answered the question so I don't think he can be harassed with these opinions."

Justice Apau denied harassing the witness saying: "I am not harassing the witness, it is not my duty to harass him. I know that he has been sent there by the petitioner to do the job for him then somebody tells you to go to the petitioner and consult him.

"If the petitioner could do the work he himself would have been there. That is what I would want to find out. How am I harassing him?" he quizzed.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com