Tsatsu grills Bawumia at election petition hearing

Tsatsu TsikataTsatsu TsikataLawyer for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, yesterday put the star witness of the petitioners on the spot when he took over the cross-examination of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.

Mr Tsikata started on a very high note and did not give the witness any breathing space at all. But as he progressed, he engaged in convivialities and somehow toned down a little.

Initially, counsel, who had adopted a confrontational approach, did not want the witness to explain himself, let alone refresh his memory from prepared documents but expected only straight-jacket responses to his questions.

He confronted the witness first with the issue of pink sheets by reminding Dr Bawumia that he had sworn to tell the truth and so he should adhere to that, since anything to the contrary would defy the oath to speak the truth.

At a point when counsel wanted to ‘bully’ the witness, lawyers for the petitioners did some murmurings, which compelled Mr Justice Jones Dotse to remind both sides that there was no need to make any noise if they wanted to raise an objection.

Mr Tsikata then went into the area of polling agents and pointed out to the witness that their party sent out letters to their polling agents to go to certain polling stations which had been declared non-existent by the petitioners.

According to counsel, if those polling stations did not exist, the polling agents would not have been sent there, to which Dr Bawumia responded that those polling stations did not legally exist.

Counsel told the witness to be mindful of his choice of the term ‘legally’, since he was not a legal expert.

When counsel was sounding repetitive, he was brought under control by the bench.

The witness agreed with counsel that one of  the vital duties of the polling agent was to avoid impersonation and multiple voting but he said he was unaware that polling agents certified the results of polls.

When Mr Tsikata was going to put the witness to questions relating to the pink sheets, he set the stage by saying that the witness should forgive him if he referred to him as Dr Pink Sheet because he (witness) was not averse to pink sheets.

Counsel tendered many of the pink sheets whose results the petitioners were seeking annulled but counsel for the petitioners raised an objection on the grounds that the originals were not in evidence and the objection was sustained.

Dr Bawumia said on the face of the pink sheets there was no certification from any of their polling agents that challenged unqualified voters from casting their votes but maintained that the presiding officers did that.

Regarding voting without biometric verification, counsel told the witness that certain concerns were raised about the frustration among voters who found it difficult to vote because of the problems associated with verification, but before Dr Bawumia could answer the question, counsel was told to desist from that political gimmick.

The witness agreed that every citizen had the right to vote, provided all the proper procedures had been followed.

Earlier, counsel for the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr James Quashie-Idun, had concluded his cross-examination of the star witness before he handed the baton to Mr Tsikata.

Mr Quashie-Idun’s last day of cross-examination was not different from the way things had gone on the previous days, as he faced fierce opposition from counsel for the petitioners regarding the tendering of certain documents through Dr Bawumia.

Counsel had produced before the court the original pink sheets of three polling stations, in compliance with the court’s order that the originals be produced, subject to the acceptance of the photocopies which had been accepted conditionally during the last sitting.

But that never materialised, as counsel for the petitioners, Mr Phillip Addison, objected to the tendering of one of the collation forms which he said related to the parliamentary election in the Atebubu Amanten Constituency in the Brong Ahafo Region.

Mr Addison argued that all the writings on that form were in blue ink.

However, he said, a notice on the second page was a carbon copy which raised questions of authenticity as to whether the document was original.

Furthermore, he said on the third sheet was a cancellation without any initials and he did not know whether that was taken into consideration in computing the election results, while the form was for the parliamentary election but had been cancelled and in its place written presidential.

Mr Quashie-Idun said it was not correct that 3,196 voters who cast their votes were verified with their faces only and that the number was 70,889 which covered all the regions and gave the breakdown.

Similarly, counsel told the witness that out of an alleged number of  pink sheets which were not signed, some of them were actually signed, but the witness disagreed with him.

The witness said he was unaware that for voters who were verified facially, the verification device had to be activated for those to be counted.

Counsel told the witness that in their petition, they did not give even one example of malpractice engaged in by the EC, but Ms Justice Rose Owusu intervened and indicated that reference had been made to malpractices such as allowing voters to vote without verification, among others, and, therefore, that question was misplaced.

Nevertheless, the witness replied that over-voting, duplicated pink sheets and serial numbers were among the malpractices listed by the petitioners.

Mr Quashie-Idun said all the allegations made by the petitioners had not been properly substantiated, but the witness disagreed with him.

Counsel also said the petition was without merit and ought to be dismissed, but the witness again disagreed with that suggestion.

Hearing continues today – Tuesday.

Story: Stephen Sah

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