The gathering of evidence is over and parties in the election petition are expected to file their written addresses at the Supreme Court Registry by the close of work today (July 30, 2013).
Addresses are usually filed by parties in both civil and criminal cases after evidence has been led in a case.
Electoral irregularities of over-voting, persons voting without undergoing biometric verification, some presiding officers not signing pink sheets and some pink sheets having duplicate serial numbers have been alleged by the petitioners, but the respondents have refuted the allegations.
The petitioners have since led evidence to justify why the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, should be declared President, but the respondents have cross-examined the petitioners and also led evidence to counter the claims.
Essence of Address
The essence of the addresses is to give the parties the opportunity to sum up the evidence adduced so far in the case, argue on relevant issues raised, punch holes into each other’s case and attempt to convince the court as to why the status quo of the Presidency should be maintained or changed.
Obviously, the stakes are high and the parties are determined to convince the court with their addresses.
Sources close to the legal teams of the parties have indicated that all is set for the filing of the addresses today.
The Nine Wise Men and Women
Remarkably, none of the nine-member panel, presided over by Mr Justice William Atuguba, was ever absent during the 46 days of proceedings and prior hearing of interlocutory applications.
The other panel members are Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Anin Yeboah, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
These men and women, who have been given enormous powers under the 1992 Constitution and other statutes, will take into account all the issues raised in court, study documents filed, adopt laws and arrive at their final judgement.
There are currently more than 407,000 documents at the Supreme Court Registry. They include pink sheets (statement of poll and declaration of results form), affidavits from 4,000 witnesses of the President and the NDC and other documents relevant to the case.
It is important to note that the court has sweeping powers to come up with its own set of rules and guidelines for the future.
Issues for Determination
The issues the court will consider before arriving at its final judgement 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.
It will also ascertain whether or not the said violations, omissions, irregularities and malpractices (if any) affected the outcome of the results of the elections.
Nana Akufo-Addo should be declared President
The star witness of the petitioners, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, led evidence, while six additional witnesses testified in the form of sworn affidavits, to justify the annulment of votes.
Dr Bawumia led evidence in each category of the allegations. He sought to justify why Nana Akufo-Addo should be declared President.
Led by lead counsel for the petitioners, Mr Philip Addison, Dr Bawumia said Nana Akufo-Addo won the elections by 59.69 per cent, while President John Dramani Mahama polled 39.1 per cent.
Thus, per the calculations of the petitioners, votes in 10,081 polling stations should be annulled due to what they termed “gross and widespread irregularities”.
According to the petitioners, President Mahama benefited from 2,612,788 votes, while the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, had 1,228,229 votes from the said irregularities.
President Mahama won by 50.70 per cent
On the other hand, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, testified on behalf of the EC and maintained his declaration of President Mahama as the winner of the polls.
He told the court there was no basis for the court to grant the petitioners their wish.
The General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, led evidence on behalf of President Mahama and the NDC and also dismissed the claims of the petitioners.
The President and NDC have argued that there is no logical, arithmetical or other basis upon which the petitioners came to the conclusion that the two million plus votes cast in the December 7 and 8, 2012 presidential election should be annulled.
They have also maintained that the elections were generally free, fair and transparent.
Issues tackled so far
Hearing and disposal of preliminary issues took place between January 10, 2013 and April 2, 2013.
Issues that were determined during the period included the NDC’s application to join the petition, the court’s permission to the petitioners to amend their petition, the grant of the respondents’ application for the petitioners to furnish them with further and better particulars and the refusal of the court to allow the petitioners to inspect and make photocopies of collation forms for 275 constituencies.
Other issues disposed of by the court during the period also comprised the blocking of 327 persons from joining the petition to support President Mahama, filing and amendment of pleadings by the parties and the court’s subsequent setting out of two issues for determination, among many other issues.
In all the court disposed of more than 21 applications after 10 days of sitting.
With all interlocutory issues resolved, the hearing of the substantive petition ended exactly three months from the day it began. It began on April 17, 2013 and ended on July 17, 2013.
Another significant observation was that the petitioners and the EC, who are the main actors in the petition, took only two days to lead their witnesses in evidence, but their witnesses were each subjected to 13 and 14 days of cross-examination respectively.
July 30, 2013 fixed for filing of addresses simultaneously
As per the rules, the court, on July 17, 2013, gave lawyers in the case up to July 30, 2013 to file their addresses simultaneously.
The court will resume sitting tomorrow (July 31, 2013) to iron out issues that might arise and finally give a date for its judgement.
The “Heart Beat” of the Petition are Pink Sheets
The petition, which was filed on December 28, 2012, had initially alleged gross and widespread irregularities at 4,709 polling stations but on January 31, 2013 the petition was amended to request the court to annul votes in 11,916 polling stations.
After careful scrutiny, the petitioners are now relying on 10,081 polling stations to make their case for annulment.
The issue surrounding the actual number of pink sheets filed by the petitioeners was so controversial that the court on May 9, 2013 contracted internaitonal audit firm, KPMG to audit the pink sheets submitted by the petitioners. The firm presented its report on June 24, 2013.
By Mabel Aku Baneseh/Daily Graphic/Ghana