Live text: Election Petition: Justices quiz lawyers on final day of hearing

Live text: Election Petition: Justices quiz lawyers on final day of hearing

The Justices of the Supreme Court have begun seeking clarification from counsel for petitioners and respondents, as the court winds up hearing of the petition challenging the election of president John Dramani Mahama.

President Judge justice William Atuguba wants to understand how the petitioners recategorised some of the exhibits submitted to the court.

Addison explains the number of polling stations the petitioner’s are relying on.

He says they began with 11, 802 set out in the Further and Better particulars. They have deleted 704 voluntarily down to 10,119 polling stations.

The criteria for including is that it should captured in the f&b particulars, captured in the KPMG report or used by the respondents or it should not be part of the 704 deleted. He says in the anaylsis each polling station was used once.

He gives a breakdown of the polling stations used
7,999 unique pink sheets from the registrars set
960 unique polling stations recovered from what KPMG rejected
804 from the presidents set
60 remarks recovered from the president set that used unclear to KPMG
566 used by the Respondents

A polling station may be moved from over-voting category to no signature of presiding officer category. It didn’t involve the introduction of new polling stations. They re-categorised 150 polling stations. The vote of re-categorised polling station is 60,115.

He explains how many pink sheets were deleted in over voting category. It is 83

A Justice wants to know what the Respondent mean when they refer to the Respondent’s “preferred data set”. He cites pages in the their address in volume 2b which has a table of duplicate polling station codes. He says respondent explained that there were duplicate polling station codes because some was used for special voting and also others used to split a large polling station into A & B.

Justice is trying to get clarity on Addison’s over-voting definition. He wants to know why petitioners are claiming overvoting merely because C1 on the pink sheet is blank.

Justice Atuguba asks Quarshie-Idun about the statutory consequences of electoral irregularities that he alone identified in his address. He wants Idun to read it out. He states that it is about the ROPAL which provides that a high court hearing an election petition will uphold an election conducted in accordance with the provisions of ROPAL.

A judge tells him that the high court is referring to parliamentary elections not presidential. But Atuguba clarifies that it can also refer to presidential elections.

Tony Lithur turn to take a question from Atuguba. The judge wants to know why Lithur says the failure to go through biometric verification does not go with any dire consequences. Atuguba says he doe not understand the sentence used to explain this position.

Lithur says biometric verification is a process of capturing biometric data which involves his picture. The purpose is to identify if a person is eligible now once the process of registration is done then his right to vote is activated. So even if his finger print cannot be identified and his face can then there is discretionary power to allow them to vote. He adds that finger-print verification is not the only form of verification.

He says for the petitioners to say that since their finger print was not verified then it means people voted without biometric verification is false.

But a judge explains that Face Only recognition is for face only voters whose finger-prints are not captured but if a voter’s finger prints has been captured then you need to move beyond FACE ONLY identification to finger print verification

Atuguba to Tsikata:

Atuguba wants clarity on the question of the principle of annulling election results and says the Appiah V Attorney Gen quoted by the third Respondent was partly evenly balanced but also appeared ambiguous in relation to the petition at hand.

Tsikata says the case is when Edward Akuffo-Addo’s presidency was challenged by Joe Appiah. The basis was that certain regulations had not been complied with. Regulations that were not applicable were used. Justice Crabbe who was the acting EC was not consulted. The court of Appeal determined that on the evidence that was brought before the court, the electoral process had taken place. The court recognised that not only were there votes counted the court said even if the advice of Justice was consulted, it did not in any way affect the conduct of the election.

Atuguba to Tsikata on Retroactive application of the law and invalidation of the results;

Tsatsu says it was his submission that Article 49 should not by any stretch of imaginaton lead to the annulment of votes. There is a duty on both the party agent and presiding officer to sign. If in the discharge of the public duty, the parties do not dispatch their duties, it does not mean that votes be annulled. There is a frowning of penalizing people retroactively. You cannot seek to penalize the presiding officer if there is no specific law mandating so, much less to seek to penalize the voter who had no role to play in the presiding officer’s failure to uphold the law.

Idun is up to points out regulations in C.1 72 which says the biometric should capture ten finger prints, and photograph. He means biometric verification includes photo and finger prints.

He adds that a cancelled pink sheet of Finger of God church has found its way into the Petitioner’s address.

A judge says he did not use his 30 minutes address to point out this ‘anomaly’. He dwells on the duties of a presiding officer at a polling station. He asks column A & D are supposed to be filled before the voting starts and after counting another column is filled in. he wants to know if there is any entry for the presiding officer to sign before declaration. Idun says they sing only after declaration.

Justice Atuguba says Addison insists there is no mixed up in their exhibits which Tsatsu disagrees. Tsatsu explains that the confusion has not been addressed, he says in 2120 polling stations, 1060 have same exhibit numbers but different polling stations so it is difficult to know which polling station is being talked about.

He says the Petitioners could have clarified this confusion much earlier in the hearing.

Atuguba to Quarshie Idun: You alone identified provision on the statutory consequence of electoral irregularity but its construction has not been well explained. He asks Quarshie-Idun to read aloud Paragraph 7 on page 3 of the address and bring clarity on the matter.

Idun reads it out and explains that in the ROPAL Act the high court is empowered to dismiss claims of irregularity if certain conditions are not satisfied. A lady judge says that provision in the Act deals with only parliamentary election. She says CI 75 is the regulation made for presidential elections and suggests it should be the focus of his case.

But Idun says the definition of elections in the ROPAL Act is not limited to parliamentary but also presidential. Idun does not think a C.1 can make modification to an Act. Atuguba says if the Act permits it, then it is possible.