President John Dramani Mahama has filed an application praying the Supreme Court to set out a number of issues for determination in the petition challenging his legitimacy.
Among the issues he is requesting the court to determine are whether or not failure by presiding officers or their assistants to sign declaration forms invalidates the declared results on those forms, notwithstanding the signatures of polling and/or counting agents of the presidential candidates.
He is also praying the court to order the petitioners to state the precise number of polling stations where voting took place without biometric verification and whether or not ballots cast without prior biometric verification were allegedly taken into account by the Electoral Commission (EC).
President Mahama is also urging the court to order the petitioners to state the precise number of polling stations where different results on the statement of poll and declaration of results for the President bore the same polling station codes.
President Mahama, who through his lawyer, Mr Tony Lithur, filed the application for directions on issues to be set out for trial on March 13, 2013 at the registry of the Supreme Court, is also praying the court to strike out allegations that the total votes cast exceeded the number of ballot papers issued to voters at polling stations.
He is additionally pleading with the court to strike out allegations that there were many instances when the total number of votes cast at polling stations exceeded the total number of registered voters at polling stations in the December 2012 presidential election.
According to him, the issues he was asking to be struck out were not part of the petitioners pleadings to give rise for the court to determine.
The petitioners — Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey — filed the petition at the highest court of the land praying it to annul votes cast in 11,916 polling stations due to what they termed “gross and widespread irregularities”.
They had, in a December 28, 2012 petition, called for the annulment of votes cast in 4,709 polling stations but amended their petition on February 9, 2013 after the court had granted them permission to do so and cited 11,916 polling stations as the total number of polling stations where alleged irregularities were recorded.
The three had initially called for the cancellation of 1,342,845 valid votes cast during the election at 4,709 polling stations due to the alleged irregularities recorded during the elections, but are now urging the Supreme Court to pronounce an additional 3,327,659 valid votes cast as invalid.
The Supreme Court, on February 7, 2013, granted the petitioners’ prayer of amendment and accordingly allowed the amendment.
President Mahama, who is the first respondent, the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the second and third respondents, respectively, have filed their responses.
They have all refuted the petitioners’ allegations on the grounds that President Mahama won the elections legitimately in the full glare of the media, local and international election observers.
The NDC applied to join the petition on December 31, 2012 and was duly granted permission by a 6-3 majority decision of the Supreme Court on January 22, 2013.
More than 300 people have filed separate applications seeking to be joined to the petition on the grounds that polling stations where they voted were among the 11,916 the petitioners cited as having recorded widespread and gross irregularities.
Some of the issues the President is asking to be set out for determination are whether or not:
• Voting took place without prior biometric verification at any polling station
• Inability (if at all) of qualified and eligible voters to undergo biometric fingerprint verification prior to voting invalidated the votes cast by them and if it did; whether or not it materially affected the outcome of the December 2012 presidential election
• The recording (if any) of the results of different polling stations on “pink sheets” bearing the same polling station codes, invalidated the declared results on the said “pink sheets”. And if it did, whether or not this materially affected the outcome of the December 2012 presidential elections
• The recording (if any) of different results on “pink sheets” bearing the same serial numbers invalidated the declared results on the said “pink sheets”. And if it did, whether or not this materially affected the outcome of the December 2012 elections.
• The declared results recorded on all genuine “pink sheets”, which were duly signed by the polling and/or counting agents of the presidential candidates, were the results and product of duly supervised elections in those polling stations.
• If there was over-voting at polling stations, whether or not that materially affected the outcome of the December 2012 presidential elections
• If there were elections at locations, which were not part of the 26,002 polling stations created by the Electoral Commission (EC) and whether or not voting duly took place at those polling stations under the supervision of the respective polling and/or counting agents of the presidential candidates
• If indeed elections took place at locations which were not part of the 26,002 polling stations created by the EC and whether or not this invalidated the declared results at those polling stations. And if it did, whether or not this affected the outcome of the December 2012 presidential elections.
• Domestic and international observers of the December 2012 presidential election acknowledged that the conduct of the said election was generally free, fair and transparent
President Mahama is also pleading with the court to grant him permission to file additional issues if the need arises.
He is also urging the court to decline the petitioners’ prayer for the court to allow parties in the case to adopt audio-visual aids in the presentation of evidence.
He is pleading with the court to reject that request by the petitioners that parties in the case be made to exchange documents to be relied on seven days before trial.
President Mahama is praying the court to decline the petitioners’ suggestions that seven days before the trial, all parties must be made to present a list of witnesses and a brief summary of the nature and relevance of each witness’ testimony to enable the court to determine its probative value.
He has, however, not opposed the petitioners’ suggestion that the hearing of the petition should take two months.
Story by Mabel Aku Baneseh