Sunday, June 30, 2013

Petitioners thrown out over collation forms

June 27, 2013 (Page 16)

Philip Addison, Counsel for PetitionersPhilip Addison, Counsel for Petitioners 

A request for an order directed at the Electoral Commission (EC) to furnish petitioners with collation forms for 13 constituencies was on June 26, 2013 turned down by the Supreme Court.
Making reference to its June 5, 2013 blockage of the Electoral Commission (EC) from introducing printouts from biometric verification machines used in 50 polling stations to refute allegations that persons voted without undergoing biometric verification, the court described the petitioners request as “belated”.
It, therefore, unanimously dismissed the petitioners’ request for collation forms for Ledzokuku, Lower Manya Krobo, Tamale South, Techiman North, Yilo Krobo, Akuapem North, Berekum West, Kintampo South, Upper West Akim, Mporhor, Yendi, Ketu North and Oforikrom.
The court accordingly adjourned proceedings to today to enable lawyers for parties in the case to cross-examine the international audit firm, KPMG, which conducted an audit into pink sheets at the heart of the election petition.

 No Floodgates
Turning to President Mahama’s affidavit in opposition, Mr Addison indicated that the President’s affidavit in opposition was filed twice, namely on June 24 and June 25, 2013, and further denied assertions that the petitioners’ request would open the floodgates for more requests to be made in future.
He maintained that each and every application was determined on its own merit and, “therefore, the issue of floodgates being opened do not arise here”.
Reacting to the NDC’s affidavit in opposition, Mr Addison refuted claims by the NDC that his clients were embarking on a fishing expedition.
He also stated that the petitioners would have made the application if they had the full complement of the pink sheets.
Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira enquired from Mr Addison what he meant by the issue of missing pink sheets to which Mr Addison explained that not all Polling Agents brought copies of the pink sheets.

Mr Quashie-Idun’s case for the EC
Mr Quashie-Idun informed the court that the summation of results on the pink sheets was what the petitioners were requesting for and, therefore, told the court the petitioners had access to those documents.
He said it had not been the case of the petitioners that there were discrepancies in votes declared at polling stations and results declared at the collation centres, adding that no objection was raised by representatives of the petitioners at the collation centres.
Mr Quashie-Idun said his client had received 8,000 pink sheets and maintained that the petitioners’ request was belated and “an attempt to obtain documents through cross-examination”.
He said the constituency results declaration forms should contain all the information the petitioners required, adding that the petitioners were on a fishing and “groping” expedition.

Mr Lithur’s “Pair Trawling” Assertion
Counsel for President Mahama, Mr Tony Lithur, said the application by the petitioners for the provision of documents outside their pleadings was wrongful and must not be entertained by the court.
“It is quite clear that this is deep sea fishing – it is pair trawling,” Mr Lithur pointed out, and accused the petitioners of seeking fresh evidence from the EC in their bid to turn it against the EC in the long run.
He questioned the basis for the petition if the petitioners claimed they did not have full complement of pink sheets and reminded the court of the consistent attempt of the petitioners to resist any attempt for the introduction of new documents that had not been pleaded.
Mr Lithur accordingly prayed the court to apply the same “yardstick” it had applied during the hearing of the petition to the petitioners as well, adding, “It is too late in the day.”
He also argued that the information on constituency collation forms had substantial information relating to the volumes of pink sheets for each of the constituencies and which had the tendency to delay the petition.
Counsel opined that the application was an abuse of the court’s process and must, therefore, be dismissed accordingly.

Incompetent Application
Counsel for the NDC, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, described the petitioners’ application as incompetent on the grounds that the rules referred to by Mr Addison applied to election offences and hearing of election petitions at the High Court.
He said the submission on missing 2,000 pink sheets was not before the court, adding that such assertion “settled the matter against the petitioners”.
Mr Tsikata argued that the matter before the court was in relation to pink sheets filed in court and reminded the petitioners that they had “consistently maintained that their case is based on the face of the pink sheets”.
That, to him, clearly indicated that the petitioners were embarking on a fishing expedition for missing pink sheets, adding, “They themselves ruled themselves out of court.”
He accordingly prayed the court to dismiss the application because it was incompetent.

“You should have come earlier”
Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe at that stage intervened and informed Mr Addison that the petitioners should have made the application earlier to which Mr Addison explained later that issues came up later in the day.
Mr Justice Gbadegbe also reminded Mr Addison that such applications could be brought under “very, very exceptional circumstances”.
Undaunted Mr Addison, however, prayed the court to determine his clients’ application on its merit.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice William Atuguba, subsequently ruled against the petitioners in a unanimous decision after returning from its break.
The other members are Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Ms Justice Rose C. Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Anin Yeboah, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.

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