Friday, May 24, 2013

Ongoing election petition - PARTIES FIGHT OVER BOXES - Containing pink sheets

May 21, 2013 (Lead Story)

CONTROVERSY has rocked the auditing of pink sheets, as lawyers for President John Dramani Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have objected to alleged introduction of additional boxes containing pink sheets.
But a former Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, who is leading the petitioners legal team, has refuted allegations that extraneous materials had been introduced into the pink sheets.
A statement signed by the General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah and issued in Accra said, “in respect of the count of exhibits ordered by the Supreme Court, Counsel for the President and the NDC have objected to an attempt to introduce additional boxes of exhibits which were not part of the exhibits inspected by all parties prior to the commencement of the counting exercise.”
 “Together with Counsel for the Electoral Commission a representation was made to the Deputy Judicial Secretary for the suspension of the count pending further orders of the court.  Counsel have also asked for improved security for the exhibits in order not to compromise further the integrity of the process,” the statement said.
It has accordingly requested NDC supporters to remain calm while the court resolved the issue.
Petitioners Rebuttal
But in a sharp rebuttal, Ms Akuffo said the respondents were making false allegations because nothing of such nature happened at the Supreme Court conference room. 
According to her, officials of the Supreme Court registry, KPMG officials and all representatives of the parties were present at the Supreme Court conference room when the audit was ongoing.
She, therefore, wondered why the respondents did not protest in the morning when issues had to be trashed out before the actual audit began through to the afternoon when the protest was lodged.
Ms Akuffo said the counting would probably have ended on Wednesday and now “they are running away,” adding that, “we did not ask for the audit. If they are willing to go on, our representatives are ready for the audit to continue.”
Supreme Court Sources Mute
Sources at the Supreme Court have declined to comment on the raging controversy and explained that the issues would be resolved at the court today.
The nine-panel members, who have now been labeled as “nine wisemen” are expected to deliberate over the issue and resolve it when it is officially brought to their attention this morning.
The court, which has Mr Justice William Atuguba as the President, is expected to resolve the controversy.
Other members of the panel are Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Annin Yeboah, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
KPMG’s Explanation
A Senior Partner of KPMG, the international audit firm which was appointed by the Supreme Court to conduct audit into the pink sheets, Mr Joe Winful, told the Daily Graphic that representatives of the petitioners and the respondents had been invited to a meeting at the Supreme Court today, to resolve the issue.
Mr Winful explained that the auditing started on Monday and that in the middle of it, representatives of the NDC and the President demanded that the auditing be stopped.
According to him, the auditing stopped, and parties have been invited to the Supreme Court to resolve their differences today.
He made it categorically clear that the KPMG was only a referee, and for that matter a neutral body in the dispute.
“We are referees sitting on the touchlines and watching. We are working on documents that have been given to us by the Supreme Court and nobody else,” Mr Winful said.
 He reminded all that his outfit had and would continue to perform the role assigned to it by the Supreme Court in the presence of all parties in the electoral petition.
KPMG has agreed to conduct the audit for free, thereby putting to rest speculations that the company was to conduct the audit for a fee of $100,000.
Genesis of Pink Sheet Controversy
Disagreements surrounding the number of actual pink sheets submitted by the petitioners have kept popping up during the interlocutory stage of the hearing of the electoral petition at the Supreme Court.
The petitioners have since the beginning of the hearing, deleted 704 pink sheets and are currently relying on 11,138 pink sheets in their final analysis.
Counsel for the President, Mr Tony Lithur, for instance has argued that he received 8,579 pink sheets, while counsel for the NDC, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, said his client had taken custody of 8,000 pink sheets served on it by the registrars of the court.
The conductor of the polls, the Electoral Commission (EC), which is the third respondent in the case, has not come out clearly on the number of pink sheets it has received but its lawyer, Mr James Quashie-Idun, has also informed the court his client had received less than 11,842 pink sheets.
Following the tenacious disagreement between parties on the actual number of pink sheets submitted to the court – the court, on May 9, 2013, in consultation with parties in the case, ordered that an audit be conducted into the pink sheets.
The Audit
A number of meetings were held between representatives of the petitioners and the respondents to agree on the modalities to be adopted to pave the way for the audit to begin at the conference room of the Supreme Court on Monday, only for more controversy to emerge.
The Petition
The hearing of the substantive petition, which has the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, as petitioners began on April 17, 2013.
Dr Bawumia, who is the star witness for the petitioners, has since been led by Mr Philip Addison to complete his evidence-in-chief. He has been cross examined by the lawyers for the President, Mr Tony Lithur and Mr Quashie-Idun.
He is currently undergoing cross-examination from Mr Tsikata, who maintains that Dr Bawumia has duplicated pink sheets to deceive the court.
However, Dr Bawumia has denied that assertion and argued that nowhere did the petitioners duplicate pink sheets in the final analysis of the alleged widespread and gross irregularities in the December 2012 presidential elections, which is on a CD-Rom.
Mr Tsikata, has been cross examining Dr Bawumia for the past 12 days.
The petitioners have alleged that the December 7 and 8, 2012 presidential election was fraught with malpractices of over-voting, non-signing of pink sheets by presiding officers or their assistants, voting without biometric verification and duplicated serial numbers of pink sheets.
However, President Mahama, the EC and, the NDC have denied that any such irregularities occurred during the election.

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