July 9, 2013 (Page 16)
A “WEIRD” pink sheet from the DA Primary Polling Station at Ampemkro in the Ashanti Region popped up at the Supreme Court hearing of the presidential petition challenging the legitimacy of President John Dramani Mahama.
Lead counsel for the petitioners challenging President Mahama’s presidency, Mr Philip Addison, handed the pink sheet to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, for scrutiny.
The chairman was made to read out the information on the said pink sheet to the court and the information dazzled Dr Afari-Gyan, the bench and audience in the courtroom.
For instance, it emerged from the pink sheet that although the total number of registered voters for that polling station was 210, the pink sheet recorded President Mahama as annexing 270 votes, while the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, got 16,419 votes, with the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) candidate, Dr Henry Herbert Lartey, getting 117 votes.
What was even more striking was that the presiding officer of that polling station wrote 270 in words as ‘twenty seven zero’.
The presiding judge, Mr Justice William Atuguba, at that point said it appeared some electoral officials had developed their own system of numbering.
His comment drew a bout of laughter from the courtroom.
Asked by Mr Addison to state what other candidates got, Dr Afari-Gyan sighed and said it was very difficult to see what had been written.
The EC Chairman, nonetheless, managed to mention the figures annexed by the candidates on the pink sheet.
Describing the figures as “wayward”, Dr Afari-Gyan said he could not tell if some documents had been superimposed on the pink sheet as suggested by Mr Addison.
At that point, Mr Addison told the witness, “Several pink sheets are like this.”
Pink Sheet included in the declaration of results
Asked if that pink sheet had been included in the declaration of results in the 2012 presidential poll, Dr Afari-Gyan answered, “I suppose yes,” but quickly added, “The only way is to refer to the collation sheet.”
He also told the court that he did not see the pink sheet from the DA Primary Polling Station, Ampemkro in the Ashanti Region.
‘Do not engage that presiding officer again’
Observing how queer the information on the pink sheet was, Mr Justice Jones Dotse enquired from Dr Afari-Gyan if it was possible for the EC to ensure that the same presiding officer was not engaged in future elections.
Dr Afari-Gyan assured the bench that the EC would not do that in future and pointed out that it was usually difficult to know about those issues from remote areas across the country.
Other members of the bench took turns to study the pink sheet. They were Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose C. Owusu, Mr Justice Anin Yeboah, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
46 Pink Sheets with same serial numbers
Earlier, lawyers for the petitioners had confronted Dr Afari-Gyan with 46 pink sheets with duplicate serial numbers.
The paired pink sheets, which were in 23 lots, were scrutinised by Dr Afari-Gyan, who conceded that they had the same serial numbers.
But one of the judges, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, reminded counsel for the petitioners to bear in mind an earlier explanation by Dr Afari-Gyan that the serial numbers were generated by the printer.
Mr Justice Dotse also reminded Mr Addison that the said pink sheets had different polling station names and codes.
Mrs Justice Adinyira also reminded counsel that he was using only one pattern with respect to polling stations.
Supporting Mr Justice Dotse’s reminder to Mr Addison, Mrs Justice Adinyira told counsel that the polling stations had different names, codes and results.
Later, counsel for the EC, Mr James Quashie-Idun, said the 46 pink sheets were not paired up but Mr Addison insisted they were paired up.
Mr Justice Dotse intervened and remarked, “They are paired up according to serial numbers.”
After the confirmation, Mr Addison suggested to the witness that aside from the violation of same serial numbers, the pink sheets had other violations, including over-voting, but Dr Afari-Gyan answered that he did not know about that.
The list accompanying the 46 pink sheets with the same serial numbers was tendered in evidence without objection from the lawyers for the respondents.
Five Pink Sheets
After exhausting the 46 pink sheets with the same serial numbers, Mr Addison brought out five pink sheets and requested Dr Afari-Gyan to go through each of them.
Three of the pink sheets had the same polling station name and code but different results, while two of them had the same presiding officer but different results.
Two of the pink sheets also had the same serial polling station codes and names, different presiding officers and different results. The serial numbers were also different.
All these were confirmed by the witness.
The list for the said five polling stations was tendered in evidence as an exhibit without any objection from lawyers for the respondents.
List of 905 polling stations with unsigned pink sheets tendered in evidence
A list of 905 polling stations where the EC stated presiding officers did not sign pink sheets was tendered in evidence after the petitioners’ request for the list was met by the EC.
Although Mr Addison objected to the EC going out of its way to include an analysis of 2,009 pink sheets the petitioners had alleged had not been signed by presiding officers, he agreed to the tendering of the documents “reluctantly”.
Mr Addison had requested for a list of only the 905 polling stations but the EC included an analysis on the 2,009 polling stations on the cover of the list.
Counsel agreed to tender the document after the bench had prevailed on him to accept it and rely only on the information he required from it.
Issue over pink sheets
Earlier, the court’s sitting had been marked by disagreements between the parties over labelling, mislabelling and some exhibit numbers not matching exhibit numbers captured in the KPMG report.
The bench, as usual, resolved the issue for the court to make progress.
Hearing continues today (July 9, 2013).