Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the star witness in the landmark election petition in which he and two others are challenging the Electoral Commission’s (EC) declaration of John Dramani Mahama as President in the December 2012 presidential elections, was yesterday subjected to a thorough grilling by the President’s legal team during cross-examination.
The President’s legal team, led by Tony Lithur, continuously tried to box Dr. Bawumia into a corner for him to accept that the petitioners duplicated a lot of the evidence to make it look worse than it was.
However, Dr Bawumia, an Economist, did not crush under counsel’s pressure in the cross-examination, retorting at a point that ‘no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to show any duplication.’
It took close to three hours for Mr. Lithur to point several same pink sheets that had been tendered as different exhibits which the President’s legal team said were duplications of the evidence tendered.
Counsel named several polling stations which he claimed had double exhibit numbers and pointed out that the petitioners intended to pull a fast one on the court.
Mahama’s counsel pointed out ‘I suggest to you that you deliberately duplicated these pink sheets to deceive the court.’
But Dr Bawumia responded, ‘I suggest to you that I did not deceive the court,’ an answer which drew loud laughter from the crowd.
Dr Bawumia confirmed that even though the exhibit numbers were different for the same polling station as pointed out by counsel, figures for each polling station were only entered once, in his analysis.
Dr. Bawumia confirmed to the court that there were two different exhibits of the same polling station but only one was used in their analysis.
He said ‘no single polling station has been repeated. There are 24 mutually exclusive sets.’
At a point, Dr. Bawumia requested to have the CD Rom to be able to properly identify the documents, but Mr. Lithur insisted that once he did not need CD Rom in his evidence-in-chief, he could also go through cross-examination without any CD Rom.
In what looked like the same line of questioning, Mr. Lithur took pains to present to Dr. Bawumia various pink sheets with different sets of irregularities but same polling station tendered as two different exhibits.
The witness said when the petitioners tried to compile the Pink Sheets manually, they realized an error and also due to time factor, they decided to run them electronically and insisted that even though one Pink Sheet could have different exhibits, only one was used in the analysis on each occasion.
At a point, Mr. Lithur appeared to be shouting at Dr. Bawumia, which prompted Justice Annin-Yeboah, a member of the panel, to caution counsel that he was intimidating the witness, to which Mr. Lithur retorted, ‘I haven’t. That is how my voice sounds.’
This exchange attracted what appeared to be hooting and cat-calls which in turn received a reprimand from the court.
Justice Jones Victor Dotse, who was the first to caution, said, ‘I can see an emerging trend which is not good. Those in the court are not supposed to shout or hoot.’
He advised that if any member of the audience had any reservation, the best channel to use is through his or her counsel saying, ‘It is not for you to pass a comment as if you are hooting. This is not a stadium where you can hoot.’
Justice Sulley Gbadegbe even threatened that if the situation persisted he would order for the courtroom to be emptied.
He said the proceeding was being beamed live on television and it was proper for the audience to show that ‘Ghana is a decorous country.’
At a point Mr. Lithur pointed out that there were two signatures on one Pink Sheet to which Dr. Bawumia replied that he needed to ascertain the veracity.
Mr Lithur quickly asked: ‘So you also make mistakes?’
Witness: There is no way we would have made mistakes in the analysis we did. There is no way that could have been done. We analysed data electronically.
Dr. Bawumia had urged the Supreme Court in rounding up his evidence in chief to invalidate the Electoral Commission’s (EC) declaration of John Dramani Mahama as President.
He said Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate, should rather be declared winner of the December 2012 Presidential election.
According to Dr. Bawumia, who was also a running mate to Nana Akufo-Addo on the NPP ticket, after a careful analysis of incidents of widespread violations, irregularities and malpractices of the Pink Sheets, it was established that the NPP candidate should have been declared winner by 51.53 percent, as against John Mahama’s 47. 01 percent of the valid votes cast.
Completing his evidence-in-chief in a packed court led by Phillip Addison, lead counsel for the three petitioners, Dr. Bawumia said even though the EC declared that John Mahama had won the election by obtaining 5,574,761, he should have polled 4,276,103 which represents 47.01 per cent of the valid votes cast.
‘Per our analysis, when you combine over-voting with voting without biometric verification and Pink Sheets with no signatures of the Presiding Officers, a total of 1,298,658 deducted from the EC’s declared results of 5,574,761 will put John Mahama at 4,276,103 and give him 47.01 per cent.’
In the same vein, he said ‘when you combine over-voting with voting without biometric verification and Pink Sheets with no signatures of the Presiding Officers, a total of 561,885 deducted from the EC’s declared results of 5,248,898 will put Nana Akufo-Addo at 4,687,013, giving him a total of 51.53 per cent.’
Over-voting versus Voting Without Biometric Verification
He testified that in comparing over-voting with voting without biometric verification alone, when 978,371 votes are deducted from the results declared by the EC, John Mahama’s votes would have reduced to 4,596,390, representing 48 percent.
He said if using the same scenario to deduct 422,008 from what the EC declared for Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP candidate would have obtained 4,826,890 representing a total of 50.47 per cent.
Pink Sheets Reduced
Dr. Bawumia told the court that originally he swore an affidavit that indicated that they were going to contest Pink Sheets from 11,842 but added ‘In our evidence-in-chief, we ended up with 11,221.’
He said after a thorough review of the 11,221 polling stations, they further deleted 83 polling stations to reach 11,138 saying ‘all my analysis was based on 11,138.’
He said that currently they have further subtracted the 23 that the petitioners complained were added to the 26,002 stations used by the EC to reach 11,115 in order not to confuse the court.
He said as it was, the total number of votes the petitioners were seeking to annul stood at 4,381,415 and added that the votes detected to be violations, irregularities and malpractices would have significant material effect on the results declared by the EC.
Objection To Petitioners’ Update
When Dr. Bawumia sought permission of the court to tender in evidence the updated analysis of the figures after testifying on the document, the respondent raised an objection.
Tony Lithur, who represents President Mahama as First respondent, argued that the petitioners had made specific pleadings in the amended petition saying ‘what they are seeking to do is to quietly amend the petition without leave of the court.’
He said Dr. Bawumia was seeking to delete from the things in evidence and added that the respondents had not prepared responses for the petitioners’ updated document.
James Quarshie-Idun, counsel for the EC, said ‘we are objecting because they are indirectly amending the petition.’
Then came Tsatsu Tsikata, counsel for the NDC, who said the updated document contradicted the document that Dr. Bawumia had already sworn on oath to the court.
He said the witness admitted on Wednesday that he updated the document the previous night and that could not be a document that was already in the court’s custody.
Mr. Addison urged the court to overrule the objections because they were not amending their pleadings saying that ‘all we are seeking to do is to abandon part of the evidence by reducing the polling stations from 11,842 to 11,138 and I thought they should welcome this.’
He said the documents were simply copies already in evidence which they were referring to, but Mr. Lithur insisted that the document could prejudice the trial, if admitted in evidence.
Mr. Addison then said ‘these are to assist the court. We are not changing our case. We still stand on the violations, irregularities and malpractices that we have complained about. There are two issues in the memorandum of issues and we still stand by them.’
After a short recess, the nine-member panel unanimously overruled the objections saying that the updated document was still within the original high number (11,842).
The court said the evidence had already gone in and no surprise element would be encountered by the respondents.
After the ruling, Mr. Addison urged the court to order Mr. Tsikata to withdraw a comment he made that the petitioners’ legal team should observe the highest etiquette at the bar.
Mr Addison said Mr. Tsikata had sought to abuse them at the least opportunity since the trial started, but Mr. Tsikata refused to apologise and the court had to proceed.
Sitting continues on Monday April 22.
Meanwhile a member of the legal team of the petitioners, Gloria Akuffo, has described as ‘firm and consistent’ the submissions of Dr. Bawumia in support of the evidence presented to the court.
‘I think it has been a good day; Dr. Bawumia has been very firm and consistent in his evidence. He completed his evidence in chief by answering questions arising out of the answers of the respondents.’
According to Ms Akuffo, Dr. Bawumia, during his cross examination, was “emphatic that although it appeared that the evidence had come in doubles, they were never counted as doubles and that no pink sheet was counted more than once in his analysis.’
She said counsel for the first respondent tried to deceive the court to believe that the evidence of the second petitioner was duplicated.
‘He [Dr. Bawumia] is now under cross-examination and the respondents are showing him documents from our pack of ‘pink sheets’ that were used in the case. They [respondent] are trying to establish that we have engaged in double counting; but I will emphatically say that the witness has indicated there has been no double counting whatsoever.’
‘We [petitioners] are on very firm grounds, we are not shaken in our evidence; we are comfortable with what we have done so far and we are on our way to winning our case,” she added.
By William Yaw Owusu and Ralph Ofori-Adeniran