August 14, 2013 (Page 26)
They have had ample opportunities to lead evidence and subsequently address the court on why Mr John Dramani Mahama ought to be removed or maintained in office as President of the Republic of Ghana.
Today, lawyers for the petitioners, President Mahama, the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Messrs Philip Addison, Tony Lithur, James Quashie-Idun and Tsatsu Tsikata, respectively, will be facing the nine-member Supreme Court panel hearing the presidential election petition to answer questions and clarify issues that may have arisen from their evidence and or addresses.
They will also be expected to expound on some of the issues they have raised on behalf of their clients during the hearing of the petition which lasted four months.
The nine-member panel, presided over by Mr Justice William Atuguba, has Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Constance Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Anin Yeboah, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo as members.
The issues before the court for determination are allegations of persons being allowed to vote without undergoing biometric verification, over-voting, some presiding officers not signing pink sheets (statement of poll and declaration of results forms for the office of President) and some pink sheets having duplicated serial numbers.
After seeking the necessary clarifications from the lawyers, the court is expected to announce a definite date to deliver its judgement in the petition which is calling for the annulment of 3,931,339 votes at 10,119 polling stations because of gross and widespread irregularities alleged by the petitioners.
Regulation 69 C (4) of the Supreme Court Amendment Rules, 2012, (CI 74) indicates that judgement should be delivered in a presidential election petition 15 days after the close of the case.
It is, therefore, possible for judgement to be delivered by the end of this month.
The petition was brought by the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the December 2012 presidential election, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and the National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey.
According to them, after the annulment of the votes, Nana Akufo-Addo would have 56.85 per cent of the valid votes cast, while President Mahama would get 41.79 per cent.
But the respondents have argued that there is no basis for the annulment of votes because the petitioners had failed to prove their case.
Lawyers address court
It was a battle of repartee on August 7, 2013 when each of the four lawyers attempted to use 30 minutes to orally justify why the claims of electoral irregularities at 10,119 polling stations should be upheld or declined by the Supreme Court.
All the lawyers touched on the various categories of allegations and made a case for or against the annulment of votes.
Maintain President Mahama
In his address, Mr Lithur argued that the petitioners had failed to discharge the burden of proof to warrant the annulment of 3,931,339 votes and said it would be unfair for votes to be annulled on the face of the pink sheets.
Counsel held that the December 2012 presidential election was the most transparent Ghana had ever had, adding that President Mahama won “fairly and squarely” and, accordingly, prayed the court to maintain the status quo.
According to him, it was clear from Dr Bawumia’s evidence that there was no polling agent present during the investigations into alleged irregularities and further submitted that no polling agent was questioned on what was found on the face of the pink sheets, adding that the petitioners “poured over paper” to make a request that votes be annulled according to evidence on the face of pink sheets.
Sceptically look at attempts to seek annulment — EC
Making a case for the conductor of the poll, Mr Quashie-Idun was of the view that votes were counted in the full glare of the public and in the presence of polling agents who had earlier participated in the manning of the poll and signed pink sheets accordingly.
He submitted that representatives of the various candidates were present in the strong room of the EC when results from the constituencies were presented and, accordingly, prayed the court to “sceptically” look at attempts to “undermine” the results on the face of the pink sheets.
Arguing for the NDC, Mr Tsikata also prayed the court to dismiss the petitioners’ case because they had admitted that voters did nothing wrong and that no one voted more than once.
According to counsel, Dr Bawumia, the star witness for the petitioners, disqualified himself with his “You and I were not there” assertions during his testimony on what might have happened at polling stations, adding, “He had no capacity to give testimony to seek the declarations he was seeking.”
Mr Tsikata said the exhibits the petitioners relied on alone could not make a case for the annulment of votes because they fell short by the rules of court, adding, “The petitioners’ claim is factually empty, with no supportable evidence being produced. It is legally pathetic; the petition is poor in arithmetic and extremely poor in logic.”
Declare Nana Akufo-Addo President – Addison
In his concluding address, Mr Addison said the petitioners had led substantial evidence to warrant the annulment of votes at the 10,119 polling stations and the subsequent declaration of Nana Akufo-Addo as President.
He said although the respondents had persistently maintained that the 2012 elections were credible and had argued for the court to uphold the results, they in another breath shied away when they were confronted with the pink sheets, which were the primary records of the poll.
Mr Addison argued that the petitioners were able to prove each infraction and said the Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, made some critical admissions, including the admission which enhanced and reinforced the concept of one man, one vote.
Dr Afari-Gyan, he further argued, admitted not seeing a single pink sheet before declaring the results, as well as the fact that some results in some polling stations were annulled due to infractions.