Wednesday, February 27, 2013

.... EC directed to give list of voters abroad

February 6, 2013 (Front Page) The Supreme Court has ordered the Electoral Commission (EC) to answer all questions posed by petitioners challenging the declaration of President John Dramani Mahama, as the winner of the December 2012 presidential elections. By this order, the EC is expected to, within seven days, provide details of the names and addresses of persons who were registered overseas, and the mode and manner by which those persons were registered. The EC has also been directed to supply the petitioners with declaration forms for all polling stations in the 2012 presidential election, minutes of all meetings held between the EC and political parties between 2010 and 2012, as well as special voters list used in the 2012 presidential election. The petitioners, who are the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, filed a petition at the Supreme Court, dated December 28, 2012 and noted, among other things, that irregularities recorded at 4,709 polling stations, favoured President Mahama. The petitioners on January 31, 2013, amended their petition to request the Supreme Court to annul 4,670,504 valid votes cast during the election at 11,916 polling stations where alleged irregularities were recorded. They are also seeking to introduce the claim that there were 28 locations where elections took place which according to them, were not part of the 26,002 polling stations created by the EC. Their lawyer, Mr Philip Addison, is expected to move a motion to seek permission from the court to amend the petition after the court refused to accept a preliminary opposition from counsel for the NDC, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, to the methods adopted by the petitioners in amending the petition. The motion will be moved on Thursday, February 7, 2013, after Mr Tsikata files the NDC’s opposition to moves to amend the petition. He was ordered to file the response by the close of work Wednesday. In granting the application, the court said it carefully studied the questions posed by the petitioners and found that the petitioners were not embarking on a “fishing expedition” alleged by the National Democratic Congress (NDC). It said the scope within which the petitioners interrogatories posed were “permissible”, adding the EC had not provided specific details on the number of registered voters. The court then gave the parties in the case seven days within which to provide each other with the relevant and required information. After the court’s ruling, Mr Addison attempted to move the petitioners’ motion to seek leave of the court to amend the petition but he was opposed by Mr Tsikata on grounds that the rules of court had not been adhered to. But the court stated that, although, there were no explicit rules by which a party could withdraw and file a motion, it will allow the petitioners to move their application “so the ends of justice will be served.” “We will allow the amendment to proceed,” Mr Justice William Atuguba, the presiding judge, stated on behalf of his colleagues. The other members of the Bench were 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. After the court’s ruling, Mr Tsikata stated that to facilitate an expeditious trial, he would adopt the ruling of the court with respect to its order for further and better particulars but would make a further application to pray the court to order the petitioners to cite the names of officers who superintended over the alleged irregularities. Mr Justice Dotse, then advised him to get the earlier order of the court and narrow down on areas he intended to make an application on. Mr Tsikata said “we will be guided by the court’s directives to compare the ruling to our application for further and better particulars.” At that point, Mr Justice Atuguba stated “we will adjourn to see the cross pollination.” His comment threw the entire courtroom into a state of laughter. More applications Counsel for President Mahama, Mr Tony Lithur, then prayed the court to grant his client leave to serve a number of interrogatories on the petitioners, but Mr Addison then interjected and advised his colleague to study the court’s order for better and further particulars for the case to move faster. Mr Justice Dotse also clarified Mr Addison’s position to which Mr Lithur, responded by stating “no problem.” Mr Lithur is, therefore, expected to move his application seeking leave to serve interrogatories on the petitioners on Thursday, February 7, 2013. Application for inspection In what promises to be a landmark case in Ghana’s legal history, Mr Addison moved another application praying the court to order the EC to allow the petitioners to inspect and make copies of results from 275 coalition centres across the country. He is also praying the court to allow his clients to make copies of pink sheets from 26,002 polling stations on the grounds that Article 21 (1) of the 1992 Constitution permitted that. According to counsel although, the petitioners had photocopies of the said documents, the signatures of presiding officers did not appear on most of the pink sheets and it was, therefore, important that the court allowed them (petitioners) have access to the said documents. “We are asking for only 275 coalition centres and they are requesting for details of 4,709 pink sheets,” Mr Addison stated and accordingly prayed the court to grant the application “for a quick resolution of the matter.” EC’s opposition Opposing the application, counsel for the EC, Mr James Quashie-Idun, stated that Order 21 Rule 6 of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules (C.I. 47) states that the court could order a discovery only if it was necessary. Under the present circumstance, counsel was of the view that the discovery being sought by the petitioners was not necessary because they already had copies of the documents. He said Dr Bawumia, had on January 25, 2013, stated in an affidavit sworn on behalf of the other two petitioners that they (petitioners) had copies of the documents “for which they are seeking discovery.” Mr Quashie-Idun accused the petitioners of embarking on a “fishing expedition” adding that the burden of proof was on the petitioners. “They started with 4,709 polling stations. Now they are claiming for 26,002 polling stations. This is oppressively unnecessary”, Mr Quashie-Idun, who had from the beginning of the hearing of the interlocutory applications, kept a calm composure, remarked. Counter opposition Mr Addison reminded the EC that whether or not the petitioners had copies, the documents they were requesting for were public documents which they (petitioners) were entitled to at all material times. The court is expected to rule on the petitioners’ application on Thursday, February 7, 2013.

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