Lead counsel for the President John Mahama left it late in Day four of substantive hearing on the election petition to grill a gritty witness in chief for the petitioners who had all day affirmed to the court that duplicated pink sheets were accidentally sent to the respondents as exhibits but that figures in those pink sheets were only entered once in the analysis.
Tony Lithur, who had varied his mode of cross examination, albeit with a “heavy heart” again got the witness, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia to admit that there have been pink sheets which contained figures for parliamentary candidate mixed in the exhibits brought as evidence of irregularity for the presidential candidate.
He suggested to the witness that the petitioners deliberately mixed the list of irregularities with figures from Parliamentary candidates to make up the numbers, a suggestion which was quickly rebutted by Dr Bawumia. Whilst he could not explain how the parliamentary pink sheet got mixed up with the presidential exhibits, Dr Bawumia stated emphatically that the figure contained in the Parliamentary pink sheet was not analysed.
Lithur who gradually warmed himself into the cross examination sought to discredit the witness on the evidence of over voting, ghost polling station, and the role of polling agents in the 2012 general elections.
Role of Polling Agents; Tilapia thieves
The counsel for the first respondent averred strongly that the petitioners had polling agents who were statutorily mandated to watch keenly every turn of the voting process and that if they failed to carry out their duty, petitioners had no business running to the court and calling for the annulment of votes.
Bawumia retorted saying the counsel erred in that logic. In an analogy, the witness in chief of the petitioners said if a thief escapes the notice of a sleeping watch man and succeeds in stealing “tilapia”, the owner of that tilapia still has a right to enforce the law and to ensure that his tilapia is returned to him. It will not be said that because his watchman slept on the job, his right of ownership of the tilapia has been taken away from him, he added.
Over voting in Beautiful Quaye Polling Station
Tony Lithur presented a pink sheet exhibit representing a polling station called Beautiful Quaye in which there has been allegation of over voting by the petitioners. The counsel for the first respondent questioned the witness what for him constituted over voting.
Bawumia explained that over voting is in two forms. He said when the total number of votes cast in a polling station are more than the total number of ballots issued there is an over voting. Secondly there is over voting when the total number of votes cast exceeds the total number of people on the voters register at a particular station.
Interestingly however, the portion which indicates the total number of registered voters on the pink sheet for Beautiful Quaye was blank. So Lithur asked the witness how he arrived at the conclusion that there has been over voting in Beautiful Quaye?
Bawumia explained that information on the total number of voters is a prerequisite on the pink sheets and if the presiding officer failed to fill that portion, he has abdicated on his responsibility. He said zero is still a figure and the petitioners had every right to use the figure zero in their analysis of over voting. He was quick to add that pink sheets which had blank spaces for total number of votes represents a tiny minority of the total number of over votes they had presented to the court.
Tony Lithur found it intriguing how petitioners will be calling for annulment of total votes in 22 ‘ghost’ polling stations merely because those polling stations could not be identified on the EC’s own list of polling stations.
He argued if voting publicly took place with polling agents present in those polling station, the petitioners had no right to demand for annulment of those votes.
Bawumia retorted saying the petitioners are only demanding for illegal votes to be annulled. He said merely because voting is done in public does not make it legal. He insisted that details of those 22 polling stations were not available in the over 24,000 polling stations provided all the parties before the elections.
Counsel in Face off; calls for referee
The counsel for both the petitioners and the respondents were engaged in thrilling exchanges over the total number of pink sheets tendered as exhibits before the court.
Tony Lithur early on suggested that the total number of pink sheets submitted to them was 8,600 far below the allegations of 11,138 being trumpeted by the petitioners.
He said the duplications were only an attempt by the petitioners to shore up figures. He then called for recounting of the individual pink sheets and a referee to oversee the recount.
Tsatsu Tsikata counsel for the third respondent as well as Quarshie-Idun counsel for the second respondent all agreed to a recount.
Philip Addison, who had initially accused the respondents of deliberately photocopying exhibits to deceive the court also agreed to the recount but said the figures from those individual pink sheets must be audited as well.
The requests for a recount forced the court to go on recess and when the judges returned with decision, they ruled that recount was not needed at that material moment even though the option for a recount was still open as hearing progresses.
The case has been adjourned to Tuesday, April 23, 2013.