No basis for annulment of 2.6 million votes – Lithur

Counsel for President John Dramani Mahama in the presidential election petition at the Supreme Court Wednesday concluded his cross-examination of the petitioners’ star witness and indicated that suggestions that about 2.6 million votes should be annulled were completely preposterous.

But Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the witness, insisted that those votes were tainted with many irregularities relating to over-voting, the nonsigning of pink sheets by presiding officers and duplicated serial numbers.

The witness also said the petitioners were not accusing the President of any malpractice, except that he was the beneficiary of the Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) conduct.

When Mr Tony Lithur asked the witness the legal basis for their findings, Dr Bawumia did not provide any legal basis but maintained that there were many irregularities.

The witness disagreed with counsel that the idea of duplicated serial numbers was compiled by the petitioners to only beef up their case.

Counsel and the witness engaged in a back-and-forth crossfire during the proceedings and the court intervened and warned that they should desist from any commentary or expansionist approach to putting and answering questions.

Mr Lithur said the actual results declared by the  EC were not affected by the so-called malpractices alleged by the petitioners, but the witness replied that there was a clear case of irregularity between the actual number of ballot  papers issued to voters and those declared.

Dr Bawumia said the petitioners were no longer relying on 704 polling stations, even though they might have filed exhibits relating to those polling stations.

Regarding the issue of double serial numbers for same polling stations, the witness said pink sheets that had the same serial numbers were used during the elections, thereby resulting in the malpractices complained about and hence the action in court.

The witness agreed with counsel that the polling agents of the petitioners were present at the various polling stations and that when he cast his ballot at Walewale he did not ask about the serial number on the pink sheet.

He said as a voter, he did not see it as a concern to look for the serial number because it was a requirement of the EC to validate a vote.

Counsel said the petitioners did not train their polling agents on serial numbers because that was unimportant, but the witness said they expected the EC to check the integrity of the pink sheets and that the serial number was an identifier, just like a cheque book.

According to Dr Bawumia, if the serial numbers were of no relevance, then their absence could open the floodgates for open substitution of data.

He said the polling station name and code, as two identifiers, could be handwritten, whereas the serial number, which was the third feature, was embossed on the pink sheets and that the security of the pink sheets was compromised if the serial numbers were taken away.

The witness disagreed with counsel that the only important identifiers of the pink sheets were their names and code numbers.

Dr Bawumia further agreed with counsel that in areas where serial numbers were allegedly duplicated, polling agents of the petitioners signed those pink sheets.

Counsel showed copies of pink sheets relating to voting without biometric verification and the witnesss was adamant that those could be errors and insisted they were not used in their analysis.

The witness said he was not present at the polling station to be in a position to state whether those who voted without biometric registration did not have their names in the voters register and  that they received all sorts of reports about malpractices, the evidence of which was on the pink sheets.

When counsel asked the witness to provide one such formal complaint, Dr Bawumia replied that the formal complaint was what was before the court.

Mr James Quashie-Idun, counsel for the EC, also started his cross-examination of the witness, which related to the rudiments of voting.

The witness said he was unaware of the existence of pink sheets for the special voting conducted for the security agencies.

Asked whether any complaints were lodged by the petitioners over irregularities at the EC Headquarters, the witness replied in the affirmative and said they were asked to go to court.

Hearing continues today – Thursday.