Attempts by the Legal Team for the Electoral Commission in the on-going election petition suit at the Supreme Court, to justify the widespread occurrence of voting without biometric verification that occasioned the 2012 General Elections, earlier on Thursday, somewhat backfired as the Principal witness for the Petitioners; Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia maintained by proving that the apparent justification could not stand the test of the facts behind the case.
On his second day of cross examining Dr. Bawumia, Counsel Quarshie–Idun sought to rationalize the occurrence of voting without biometric verification by suggesting that the law and reality meant that certain persons like the disabled were exempt from biometric verification. This ostensibly was to pave way for the EC to justify the over 535,000 people who according to evidence on the face of the pink sheets were allowed to vote across the country without going through biometric verification.
However, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia pointed out that the law indeed allows people with trauma or the disabled to vote without being verified but that the total number of such people came up to only 3,176 people who were spread in only three regions of the country.
It seems Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia’s response flawed the attempted justification of the obvious violation in allowing people to vote without going through biometric verification or perhaps counsel has other plans up his sleeves because Quarshie – Idun put an end to that line of questioning and even stop Dr. Bawumia from giving the statistics on the disabled and traumatized as well as few others who were legally allowed to vote without going through biometric verification.
Dr. Bawumia explained that all such people who could have voted without going through biometric verification were indicated in the voters’ register and that the letters “FO” were indicated by the names of all such persons in the voters register. He noted that such people came up to only 3,176 people and proceeded to give the breakdown of their spread. He stated that the 3,716 people were spread in only 3 regions – the Volta, Central and Western Regions, a response described by President of the Court, William Atuguba as a learned answer.
The next line of questioning for the Electoral Commission’s lawyer was to follow the trail of the lawyer of John Mahama by trying to blame errors.
Lawyer Quarshie – Idun brought out one of the pink sheets exhibited by the Petitioners which showed that all 81 people who voted at the particular polling station did so without going through biometric verification. He sought to blame errors for this information evident on the face of the pink sheet but Dr. Bawumia quickly countered that the two of them were not at the particular polling station.
Counsel for the EC who had suggested that the numbers on the pink sheets were errors because an addition of the total number of people who were giving ballot papers and the total number of people who voted without being verified would be higher than the voters at the polling station was quickly educated by Dr. Bawumia who made it clear, that that arithmetic was very wrong as the two sets of people were the same and that adding the numbers would mean one was double counting.
“Counsel, that is wrong because those who were issued ballots and those who voted without biometric verification are not different sets of people but the same and thus it would be wrong for anyone to do an addition, such an addition would only mean one is double counting”, he said. Meanwhile, the court by a 6-3 decision, upheld objections from counsel for the petitioners when Lawyer Quashie-Idun attempted to spring surprise evidence in court.
Counsel for EC (second respondent) in the ongoing election petition hearing, sought to “tender in” pink sheets of a polling station named “Presby JHS code number H23 0401”, where the key witness, Dr. Mamaudu Bawumia, voted.
Lawyer Quarshie-Idun had sought to cross-examine Dr. Bawumia on the said polling station pink sheets.
He pleads the court to overrule the objection saying he only wants to take the witness through the process of voting. He adds Bawumia’s polling station was one of the 24,000 polling station where voting was conducted and therefore he has every right to ask questions on how voting was conducted there.
Additionally, he said, it was part of 26,000 pink sheets used by the E.C to declare the winner of the 2012 election results. Counsel for President John Mahama (first respondent), Tony Lithur and counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Tsatsu Tsikata, did not raise any objections to the tendering of the pink sheets.
But Phillip Addison, lead counsel for the petitioners, raised an objection and cited that his opposing counsel was engaging in “ambush litigation”. He accused counsel for second respondent for “springing pink sheets” in court that were not part of the affidavits and therefore not in contention.
“We are not contesting 26,000 pink sheets”, he emphasized, but rather “11,842”.
He also questioned the relevance of using Dr. Bawumia’s polling station especially when that polling station was “not in contention”. He further averred that counsel had aready taken the witness through the processes of voting. He says that was done by the counsel in his cross examination yesterday thus it will be a waste of the court’s time to be taken through another round of lesson on the processes of voting.
He said “ground rules” for litigation required that each party filed affidavits to which the E.C had submitted none, and was therefore bound to use only affidavits submitted by counsel for petitioners.
Presiding Judge, William Atuguba, then shot down the tendering of the document by counsel for the second respondents after a 6-3 ruling.
In a related development, the court overruled an objection by the petitioners to the tendering of another document titled “Form 1C” by the Second Respondent (EC), saying counsel for the EC had not pleaded it.
Again, Counsel for the first Respondent (President Mahama), Tony Lithur and the third respondent (NDC), Tsatsu Tsikata respectively had no objections to the tendering of the document.
The nine-member panel, by a 7-2 majority, overrule the objection by the petitioners and asks counsel for the second respondent to proceed.
By: Kwabena Boadu, Press Secretary to Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia