May 23, 2013 (Front Page)
Day 21 of the presidential election
petition hearing ended on a sour note when counsel for the petitioners
and the presiding judge entered into an altercation.
The fiery exchanges between Mr Philip Addison andwere so
bellicose that sitting had to end abruptly with the bench reminding
lawyers of its authority.
Tension soared, tempers flared but the
court eventually had its way, and stuck to its unanimous rejection of
the petitioners’ documents which sought to introduce re-categorisation
of irregularities at 203 polling stations.
Mr Addison’s beef was
that he could not comprehend why the court should sustain his questions
on re-categorisation of irregularities at the 203 polling stations but
disallow the petitioners to tender documents which bordered on the
Although the bench made it clear that it would
not allow Mr Addison to re-introduce the document which had been
rejected by the bench, following an objection from lawyers for the
respondents that it did not bear any exhibit number, Mr Addison stood
his grounds, and urged the court to reconsider its decision, and allow
the petitioners to properly label the document and re-tender it today
(Thursday, May 23, 2013).
The nine-member panel had sustained
objections from the lawyer for the President, Mr Tony Lithur, counsel
for the NDC, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, and the lawyer for the Electoral
Commission (EC), Mr James Quashie-Idun.
The basis of Mr Tsikata’s
objection was that the list did not have any relationship with matters
that had arisen during the cross-examination of Dr Bawumia to warrant it
being tendered in evidence as an exhibit.
According to counsel,
the attempt to smuggle in what should have been done during
examination-in-chief was not appropriate and must, therefore, not be
entertained by the court.
Mr Lithur added that the document did not indicate which exhibit it was emanating from.
Mr Addison explained that the document contained the list of
re-categorisation of polling station codes and serial numbers and added
that his side could not maintain the old exhibit numbers because the
categories had changed.
the court’s rejection of the documents, Mr Addison informed the court
that what it (court) had done amounted to “overruling” its own earlier
Mr Justice Atuguba expressed the feelings of his
colleagues and said, “We allowed you to follow proper procedures which
you did not do properly.”
But Mr Addison indicated that “we are
talking about substantial justice here,” and accordingly prayed the
court to give the petitioners leave to come back today (Thursday, May
23, 2013) with a properly labelled document.
patience with Mr Addison, Mr Justice Atuguba’s seethed: “You did not
withdraw and we voted on it,” adding that “if you had retreated we could
have probably considered that.”
Mr Addison at a point pleaded
with the court to use its discretion but Mr Justice Atuguba replied that
“the matter has been ruled upon”.
No Dictation to Bench
that point some members of the bench began packing their personal
belongings in apparent gesture that the court had closed for the day,
while Mr Addison stood on his feet and queried if the petitioners should
take it that the re-examination had been curtailed by the court.
Addison’s phrase “through the back door”, which was in reaction to the
court’s decision not to allow the tendering of the list for 203 polling
stations, infuriated Mr Justice Atuguba, who blurted that there was a
limit the bench could tolerate the bar and virtually bellowed, “We
cannot take dictation from the Bar.”
“We are not dictating to
the bench. We want to lead further evidence on re-categorisation,” Mr
Addison emphasised, but that comment seemed to have been the last straw
that broke the camel’s back as Mr Justice Atuguba threw caution to the
wind and affirmed, “We have heard you. We understood you. You cannot
insist. The matter is closed.”
situation was so intense that counsel for the President, Mr Tony
Lithur, had to report Mr Addison to the bench for refusing to hand over
the documents to a court clerk to be marked as rejected.
to Mr Addison, there had been instances where rejected documents of the
respondents were not tendered in evidence but Mr Lithur expressed
surprise with Mr Addison’s comments and urged him (Mr Addison) to “show
respect to the bench”.
Mr Justice William Atuguba spoke on behalf
of his eight other colleagues who showed signs of closing for the day,
while Mr Addison stood on his feet to demand that justice be served on
His call for the interest of justice seemed to
have infuriated the panel the more and this was exhibited through Mr
Justice Atuguba, who reminded counsel that he had had the opportunity
and had exhausted it.