After 46 days (since substantive hearing begun) of evidence giving and cross examination of witnesses by both the Petitioners and Respondents, the 2012 election petition which has been pending at the Supreme Court for the past seven months is almost over.
The Petitioners and Respondents have been given up to July 30, 2013 to prepare and file their written addresses.
“At long last the battle of evidence has ended. So now we are directing both sides to file your addresses simultaneously not later than 30 July”, Justice William Atuguba, president of the nine-member panel announced on Wednesday.
Hearing has been adjourned to Wednesday, July 31, 2013 for the judges to ascertain whether the addresses have been filed with the Court’s Registrar.
Justice Atuguba further stated that the court will sit on July 31, 2013 when the address filing have closed and give further directions to proceed from there.
But before discharging, Dr Afari-Gyan from the witness box, Justice Atuguba sarcastically said, “I hope you are seeing that go to court, go to court is not such an easy thing to say”.
This was received with laughter in the courtroom.
The Petitioners – Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his 2012 running mate Dr. Mahamudu and their party’s national Chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey – filed to challenge the results of the 2012 presidential poll in the Supreme Court with reason that the election was fraught with too many anomalies which robbed their Candidate of victory.
The respondents in the case include President John Mahama, the Electoral Commission and the governing National Democratic Congress.
The petitioners alleged that gross and widespread irregularities took place on the face of the pink sheets from 11,842 polling stations.
Although they insist they supplied 11,842 pink sheets to prove claims of over-voting, persons voting without undergoing biometric verification, some presiding officers not signing the pink sheets and some polling stations having the same serial numbers, the respondents allege that they were not supplied with 11,842 pink sheets.
The petitioners therefore relied on 11,115 pink sheets to make their case for the annulment of more than four million votes.
The case has seen various witnesses on both sides including Dr. Bawumia, General Secretary of the NDC, international accounting firm KPMG and EC Chairman Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan.
In the course of the trial, two people – Managing Editor of the Daily Searchlight Newspaper Ken Kuranchie and a member of the Communication team of the NDC, Stephen Atubiga – were sentenced to separate terms in prison for criminal contempt.
Their sentencing for 10 and three days respectively sparked a whole national debate in the media concerning the law of criminal contempt.
The petitioners claim their investigation uncovered six main categories of constitutional/statutory violations, commissions, irregularities and malpractices, namely, over-voting, widespread instances of polling stations where there were no signatures of the presiding officers or their assistants on the pink sheets, in clear violation of Article 49 (3) of the Constitution and Regulation 36 (2) of CI 75, widespread instances of polling stations where voting took place without prior biometric verification, in breach of Regulation 30 (2) of CI 75, as well as widespread instances of the same serial numbers on pink sheets with different poll results, when the proper and due procedure established by the EC required that each polling station has a unique serial number in order to secure the integrity of the polls and the will of lawfully registered voters.
They alleged widespread instances of polling stations where different results were strangely recorded on the pink sheets in respect of polling stations bearing the same polling station code when, by the EC’s established procedure, each polling station is assigned a unique code in order to avoid confusing one polling station with another which could not be explained by a reference to special voting.
In a bid to prove their allegations of fraud, the petitioners served 24 boxes filled with thousands of documents on the respondents in the case as evidence.
Nonetheless, the EC has denied all petitioners’ allegations and insists the elections were held on a clean sheet and, therefore, President Mahama won fairly in the full glare of the media, local and international election observers.
President Mahama and the NDC, who are the first and third respondents, respectively, in the petition, also denied the claims of the petitioners.
2 ISSUES FOR TRIAL
After 10 sittings to consider and rule on more than 21 interlocutory applications filed by parties in the case, the nine-member court set out two issues for trial.
They are whether or not there were statutory violations, omissions, irregularities and malpractices in the conduct of the elections held on December 7 and 8, 2012 and whether or not the said violations, omissions, irregularities and malpractices (if any) affected the outcome of the elections.
JUDGEMENT AND DECLARATION OF RESULTS
After both sides have finished with their addresses, the court will fix a date for judgement.
It will then forward its order to the EC for implementation.
The EC will be expected to declare the results again, irrespective of the outcome of the court’s decision.
Rule 71 of CI 74 says: “The court shall, at the conclusion of the hearing of the petition, deliver its judgement and the registrar shall, within seven days of the delivery of the judgement, forward a copy of the judgement to the Electoral Commission.’’
THE PANEL AND LEGAL TEAMS
Justices of the Supreme Court sitting on the landmark case are Mr Justice William Atuguba (presiding), Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Annin Yeboah, Mr Justice P. Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N.S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
A 10-member legal team, including a former Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo; Mr Philip Addison, Mr Frank Davies, Mr Alex Quaynor, Mr Akoto Ampaw, Nana Asante Bediatuo, Mr Kwame Akuffo, Mr Kwaku Asirifi, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, Mr Egbert Faibille and Professor Ken Attafuah, represented the petitioners.
President Mahama is being represented by Mr Tony Lithur and Dr Abdul Basit Aziz Bamba, while Mr Tsatsu Tsikata and Mr Samuel Codjoe represent the NDC.
Mr James Quashie-Idun, Mr Anthony Dabi and Mr Stanley Amarteyfio are representing the EC.