After a long weekend the Supreme Court is gearing up for Day Eight of the Election Petition.
930: The counsel on all sides and the expectant, partisan crowd has also taken their seats waiting for the bench. Presiding Judge William Atuguba leads his team of nine judges to occupy their seats.
The witness in chief of the petitioners Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has also taken
Lawyers for the petitioners led by Philip Addison introduces his team to the bench, Lawyer for the first respondent Tony Lithur introduces his team to the bench and so has lawyer for the second respondent led by Quarshie-Idun and lawyer for the third respondent Tsatsu Tsikata.
940: Quarshie-Idun is up on his feet to tender an exhibit which was in contention last Thursday. He presented a photocopy of that exhibit but the petitioners raised an objection which was upheld by the bench but with a condition for the counsel to provide the original copies of that exhibit. Today he has presented that exhibit which is being scrutinised by the petitioners and the respondents as well.
Presiding Judge Atuguba issues a directive to all counsel to prepare a chart of exhibits to be tendered before the court. He says the Counsel will not break CIA secret rules by tendering the exhibits in bulk.
Philip Addison objects to the tendering of one of the documents. He objects to the collation form for Atebubu Amantem. He says it is supposed to be an original document and therefore all the writing should be in blue ink but they have noticed that the second page of the document is a carbon and on the third page there is a cancellation which was not signed to. Philip Addison doubts the authenticity of that document and prays the court to uphold his objection.
Counsel for the EC Quarshie Idun says the document is coming from a proper source and the carbon copy should not affect the admissibility of the document. He says photocopy of that document has already been admitted conditionally before the court. He adds that the document is in answer to paragraph 24 of the petitioners affidavits which said votes for the first respondent were padded and those for the first petitioners were deducted. He says the document he is tendering is in support of their claim that no votes were padded for the first respondent nor were votes for the first petitioner deducted.
Philip Addison responds and says paragraph 24 of their affidavits which the second respondent seeks to debunk contained three allegations of padding and deductions of votes. But the petitioners have since withdrawn two of their earlier allegations and left one. He says the polling station in contention now is Open Space polling station and so he finds it rather curious that the EC will tender in a document relating to the two allegations that have since been withdrawn. He therefore asks the bench to object to the tendering of the document.
Counsel for the first respondent Tony Lithur seeks to support the tendering of the document and proffers his explanation why it should be admitted. He says the EC is the source documents and must be allowed to tender a true copy of the document. One of the judges in a subtle way asks Lithur why he has taken it upon himself to do the talking and not allowing the Counsel for the second respondent to justify why his document must be admitted.
Lithur says he is not aware he is in the way of the second respondent. He takes his seat. Counsel for the third respondent Tsatsu Tsikata does not understand why this should be an issue.
Philip Addison rises again to his feet and says they have no objections to all the documents but one. And that has to do with the Atebubu Amantem. He says if the counsel of the second respondent so whishes he can tender that document through his witness.
Judge Atuguba agrees. Quarshie Idun proceeds with cross examination of Dr Bawumia
1025 Quarshie Idun shows Dr Bawumia a document which indicated that the total number of votes at a particular polling station were more than the total number of registered voters. He suggests to Bawumia that was no case of over voting. There was no instance that votes in these ballot box exceeded the total number of registered voters, he says.
Bawumia: “My Lord that is not true. There are several instances of that [over voting].”
Counsel for the petitioners raises an objection again. Addison says the second respondent is employing elements of surprises in executing his case. He says contrary to the regulation that counsel for all sides must file their affidavits and support it with evidence they will be relying on in court, the counsel for the EC did not attach these documents to their earlier affidavits and has rather chosen to spring surprises on them in court. He says the counsel must hold on to the document and present it through their own witness and not through the petitioner’s witness.
Without a definite ruling Judge Atuguba says they will observe the counsel and hope he does not present documents he has not pleaded.
Quarshie Idun continues with his cross examination. He says allegations that the pinks sheets were not signed by presiding officers were not true. Quarshie Idun says the petitioners failed to provide evidence for all the allegations pertaining to failure by presiding officers to sign pink sheets. He says in Brong Ahafo Region for instance, only 1051 evidence have been given when the allegations made was a little over 2000. He says the same trend can be found in Accra, Eastern Region, Central Region. He vehemently suggests to witness that the petitioners did not indicate which of the polling stations contained the specific allegations.
Bawumia dismisses the suggestion. He insists the figures they have as evidence in the various regions are what the petitioners will be relying on. He adds that every single detail of the polling station which had the presiding officers failing to sign the pink sheets are in the further and better particulars they provided to the court.
1045 Voting Without Verification
The law requires that every voter must be biometrically verified before voting. However the law makes exceptions for people who are physically challenged. ie may not have thumbs to be verified by finger prints. The petitioners claim over 500,000 people voted without being biometrically verified. In his cross examination last week, Bawumia indicated that the physically challenged people constituted only 3,196 and therefore did not form part of the people who fell under this specific allegation. However, Quarshie Idun suggests today that the total number of physically challenged people who could not be verified biometrically is 70, 889. He gives the regional breakdown and suggests to him that his figure of 3,196 is wrong. He says the petitioners failed to do their homework.
Bawumia says the figure of 3,196 was derived at, from the copy of the voters register given to them by the EC. He says except the EC was dealing with a separate voters register, the one they provided them had the figure of 3,196.
Quarshie Idun says the petitioners are relying on errors in confusion of the accounting part of pink sheet to harvest the annulment of votes and do not have substantial evidence to support their allegations.
Bawumia says what we have done is to look that primary document on which the voting occurred. We have put out violations and irregularities in 11,138. These are not error but violations of the electoral laws.
Quarshie Idun brings his cross-examination to an end.
1105: Tsatsu Tsikata
Counsel for the third respondent, Tsatsu Tsikata rises up to cross examine the witness. Petitioners’ Counsel Philip Addison, raises an objection. He argues the first and third respondent have submitted a joint affidavit in support of the same case and so if the first respondent has cross examined the witness, he finds it intriguing how and why the third respondent will also be allowed to have a bite at the cherry. He says if the Counsel for the third respondent should be allowed to cross examine the witness, then the petitioners must be allowed to cross examine every single witness brought before the court by both the first and the third respondent.
Objection is overuled by Presiding Judge. Addison wants to cite authorities to back his claim for an objection but Atuguba hints that he may cite those authorities but the law is in the bosom of the judge and on this case they have relied on the law in their bosom to over rule this objection. He however asks Addison to proceed with his authorities but he backs down.
The heat is on. Tsatsu then fires and straight away he goes to the 22 Ghost polling stations alleged by the petitioners.
He asks Bawumia if he was aware that his party wrote several letters to the EC presenting names of polling agents to those polling station.
Bawumia says some officials may have done that but he is unaware. Tsikata presents a document, a regulation for election which spells out the role of polling agents and asks Bawumia to read relevant portions.
Bawumia reads the portion, part of which is paraphrased as the polling agents must certify that elections are conducted according to law. Tsikata says that portion contradicts earlier assertions by Dr Bawumia that the polling agents are merely observers.
Bawumia says polling agents are to attest to what ever happened at the polling station and sign to it. And that is exactly what happened.
Tsikata then presents two pink sheet exhibits of two different polling stations and asks if the witness could tell under which category of irregularity these two pink sheets fall under.
Are you satisfied that they are two different pink sheets? Tsikata asks. Bawumia affirms.
Tsikata then asks witness to identify the names of the presiding officers and the polling agents in the two polling station pink sheet exhibits provided.
Bawumia reads. In his reading, the same names appear in both pink sheets something counsel for the third respondent called an aberration which ought not to have happened.
“That should not be correct. Two polling agents and presiding officers cannot be at the same polling stations at the same time. It should not happen. This exhibit that you have attached to this affidavits and which you are relying on cannot possibly happen, Tsikata fires.
Bawumia answers and says it is odd that the names of presiding officers and polling stations appear twice on different pink sheets but says they are part of the irregularities that characterised the 2012 elections. He says they witnessed 35 of similar cases and that is part of the reason why they are in court.
Tsikata dares the witness saying does that mean that the original copies of those pink sheets have the same information on the exhibits provided by the petitioners?
Philip Addison springs to his feet in objection. He says counsel for the third respondent cannot put that question before the witness. He says if Tsikata has the original copies of those pinks he should provide it so the court will make able make meaning out of his question. He says once there original copies are not before the court the duplicate pink sheets which are must be relied on as the facts.
Tsikata describes the objection as “frivolous.” Judges sustain the objection by Philip Addison.
Tsatsu Tsikata goes ahead with his cross examination. He presents two exhibits sent to the court by the petitioners. He says those two do not have the exhibit numbers contrary to the lay down regulation in filing affidavits. He asks witness where the affidavits were signed and who was the commissioner of oaths.
Bawumia answers and says the affidavits were signed at the residence of the first petitioner and in the presence of an official who name he cannot readily recall.
Tsatsu Tsikata queries why the spaces for the exhibit numbers on those two exhibits have been left blank.
Bawumia says that was an oversight but adds those numbers have been provided in the carbon copy of the same document.
Voting Without Verification
Tsikata takes the witness into a long journey on voting without verification. He challenges the procedures used in arriving at the conclusion that over 500,000 people voted without verification and for which reason the votes must be annulled. He presents numerous exhibits and argues that on the face of the pink sheet, one cannot tell whether a voter who voted without verification, had the authority to do so- or fell into the category of people who are disabled.
Bawumia partly agrees with the suggestion by Tsikata on some of the exhibits presented to him, but on others, he insists once they have prior knowledge of the number of people who are disabled and cannot be verified before voting, they are able to relate that number to the number of people who voted without verification. So that for-instance if in a particular region there is no person captured by the voters register as falling under the category of people who can vote without being biometrically verified, as is the case in the Nothern Region, it will be odd and irregular for the pink sheet to suggest that a number of people voted without being verified.
Court goes on recess to return on 1345.
1350: Court resume sittings
Tsatsu is up on his feet to continue from where he left off.
He presents to the witness copies of pink sheet exhibits and asks witness to read aloud the votes garnered by each of the candidates in the 2012 elections. Bawumia reads them.
Tsikata asks if the petitioners are seeking to annul votes including those had by Nana Akufo-Addo. Bawumia affirms.
Tsikata fires on and asks if the petitioners are seeking to annul the votes from these two polling stations merely because two people failed to be verified before voting.
Bawumia answers and says that is the position of the law and that is what the second respondent directs that it be done.
Tsikata comes back and says Bawumia should leave the second respondent out of the issue and answer the question. He probes further to find out how the petitioners on the face of the pink sheets were able to arrive at the conclusion that people voted without being verified.
Bawumia says on the specific issue of voting without verification, the petitioners had to rely on the details on the voters register to be able to know which people were entitled to vote without being biometrically verified.
Tsikata wears a smile and says that the witness had prior to recess emphasised that their evidence was only based on the face of the pink sheet and wondered how he suddenly had to bring in the voters register to support his explanation on the issue of voting without verification.
Tsikata then presents a pile of pink sheets he said will support his case of challenging the petitioners allegations on voting without verification. Counsel on all sides take time to peruse the documents that is being presented to the court.
Tsikata asks if on the basis of one or two people who voted without verification, all the votes on the pink sheets exhibits should be annulled. He suggests in all these cases the poling agents did not give any report of people voting without verification and adds that “if you put somebody there to protect your interest, you will expect that the person will protest if there were wrong doings.” Did you have any of your polling station complain that people voted without being verified? he asks.
Bawumia says he can’t tell if there were official complaints or protestation by the petitioners’ polling agents. What he can attest to is the evidence on the pink sheets which indicated that people voted without being verified.
1440 Tsikata presents another set of pink sheet exhibits to the witness.
He asks the witness to mention the names of the polling agents and the number on the C3 column. Bawumia does that. Tsikata says the figure quoted at the column of C3 didn’t make sense because it did not tally. Bawumia agrees with him and says it is part of the reason they are in court. Tsikata probes further and asks witness if the the NPP polling agent signed his portion on the pink sheet.
Bawumia answers in the affirmative. Tsikata fires and says did the signing by the agent not confirm that everything that went on in the polling station went according to law?
Bawumia says the agent signed to confirm what ever happened at the polling station.
Tsikata presents another set of pink sheet and asks Bawumia to look through the exhibits and confirm if the figures in C1 are the same figures in C3.
NB C1 column is the total number of ballots issued to voters and C3 column is the total number of voters verified biometrically before voting.
Bawumia confirms that on each of the pink sheet exhibits brought before him, the figure on C1 is the same on C3.
Tsikata asks if in all these polling station, agents signed to certify the results.
Bawumia says the same question has been asked over and over again but the answer is still the same. The agents certified exactly what happened in those polling stations. So if there were over votes or voting without verification that is what they signed on to.
Tsikata protests and says the witness is not answering the question and it will go in the record that he did not answer the questions.
He however presents another exhibit quoted from Myjoyonline.com in which the first respondent President John Mahama was asking the EC to allow voters to vote without being verified because there were challenges with the verification machine. He asks the witness to read the report on Myjoyonline.com in which several other people including chiefs expressed the same concern shared by the president.
Bawumia says it was a concern for people to vote but the “law is the law”. People may have different concerns and opinions but all those must be captured under the law and in this case the president actually told the EC to allow people to break the law by voting without being verified and that is what happened.
Tsikata tenders another list of exhibits. The counsel on all sides peruse the exhibits. Tsikata asks witness to go through the pile of pink sheets on which he will be cross examined. He asks witness to confirm if the figure on C1 is the same one on C3. Bawumia confirms. Tsikata asks why the petitioners are asking for votes in these exhibits be annulled especially when they can’t prove that on the face of the pink sheet that people voted without verification. He asks if the petitioners are not going contrary to their own mantra which says let my vote count.
Bawumia says their mantra is let my legal votes count and that they are asking for all illegal votes to be annulled.
Presiding Judge Atuguba warns Tsikata to desist from asking politically colored questions. He says he doesn’t want the proceedings in court to be made partisan.
1835 Tsikata moves on with his cross examination and tenders in another set of exhibits.
He asks if on these exhibits the polling agents of the petitioners were represented. Bawumia affirms and adds that agents of the second respondent were present as well.
Tsikata asks if the polling agents certified the results and raised any objections that people voted without being verified.
Bawumia answers and says the agents certified by signing exactly what happened at the polling stations.
1540 Tsikata presents to the court new set of pink sheets and asks witness to mention the number of votes garnered by the candidates. Bawumia reads. Tsikata asks if the polling agents of the petitioners were present and certified the results. Bawumia answers in the affirmative and adds so were the presiding officers.
Tsikata asks him to stick to the polling agents because elections cannot be held when there is no presiding officer.
Bawumia says the polling agents certified what happened at the polling station.
Tsikata presents another set of pink sheets and has a little banter with the witness over a figure. The witness says the figure looks more like 73 but with a 0 that has been cancelled in between the 7 and the 3. Tsikata says it may appear to be 703. Bawumia says in that case the the number 703 which represents the total ballots cast will be more than the total number of registered voters. But that does not appear to be the case.
Tsatsu attempts to fire on but in a rather humorous note, Presiding Judge Atuguba calls for an adjournment saying “at this juncture the verification machine has broken down.” Court adjourns to Tuesday.