It is Day 15 of the substantive hearing of the Presidential Election Petition in which three leading members of the New Patriotic Party are challenging the 2012 December election results which was declared in favour of incumbent president John Mahama.
Lead Counsel for the third respondent Tsatsu Tsikata enters his eight day of cross examination of the petitioners’ key witness Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
The judges as always have taken their seats on the bench and are ready for banter.
1030 The counsel for all parties introduce their team of lawyers to the bench. Bawumia is reminded of his oath. Proceedings begin
Tsikata is up. He asks witness to confirm if the pink sheet exhibits labeled as MBP which have been tendered are the ones he dealt with in paragraph 56 of his affidavits. Those set of pink sheets have alleged irregularities of duplicate serial numbers.
Tsikata asks if witness can be able to point a duplicate copy of MBP category of pink sheet exhibits currently before the court. Bawumia says he can.
Tsikata picks MBP1021 and MBP1035 and asks the lawyers on all sides to peruse after which Bawumia will be peruse and will be asked question on it.
He asks if these are two different exhibits which are in respect of the same polling station. Bawumia confirms.
Tsikata says when a serial number of exhibit in this category is given he should be able to show the court a duplicate. “Yes My Lord,” Bawumia answers.
Tsikata presents a list of 150 pink sheet exhibits and asks witness to locate the duplicate copies. He starts with MBP 33. Bawumia asks permission to refresh his notes. He locates Dwamasi Islamic School and Dwamase Methodist School both of which have the same serial numbers. He mentions the polling station code and the serial numbers.
Tsikata asks the exhibit number and Bawumia answers.
Tsikata asks witness to take the next on the list which a serial number of 0011407. Bawumia locates LA primary with a code of D014703 and a serial number of 0011407. He says the same serial number has been used in BA Primary school Community Centre which has a code of D014704.
Tsikata asks if witness can confirm that the duplicate serial number has any alleged counterpart irregularity. Bawumia locates one exhibit in his custody and says that exhibit has other irregularities of over voting and voting without verification.
Tsikata asks witness to locate the counterpart copy of City Engineers polling station. Bawumia locates it and mentions City Engineers Number 26521 and the exhibit MBP 3535 for City Engineers Number.
Tsikata terminates his line of questioning and asks if witness can be able to furnish him with all the counterpart copies of the duplicated serial numbers.
Counsel on all sides agree to the proposal. No objection on all sides.
Tsikata asks witness to look at the last three on the list-148,149,150 and tells the witness to tell the court where the duplicate copies are. Bawumia locates each one of the duplicate copies.
Tsikata takes the second lot. He says the petitioners are yet to sort them out even though the list was provided to them last Friday.
Presiding Judge Atuguba warns that the court will not accept the adhoc way of doing things.
Tsikata proceeds. He takes one of the exhibits in the MBQ category-No signature and duplicate serial number category- He asks witness that if
if one has 3400 serial numbers which are repeated twice then there should be 6,800. Bawumia admits.
Tsikata asks witness to confirm that during the printing of the ballot papers, each party was involved in monitoring how the printing of the serial numbers were done. Bawumia says he is not aware but adds the right ballot papers could be used and the wrong figures entered. Bawumia says the serial number is a security feature and must be exclusive to each pink sheet and must not be duplicated. He says the answer or explanation given by the second respondent for the printing of duplicate serial numbers made little sense and raised suspicions.
Tsikata says the serial number is not a security feature. Bawumia says it is not for decoration either. He says over 74 per cent of over voting, over 80 per cent of voting without biometric verification all occurred on the duplicated serial numbers and that raises a lot of suspicion.
“None of those percentages make sense to the question i have asked you,” Tsikata rebuts.
Tsikata says the same pink sheets exhibits with same serial number, different votes category of irregularity has a total number of 2,586,633 votes on the affidavits of the petitioners case.
He says prior to the second amended petition, the witness’ committee had not paid much attention to the this category which had that chunk of votes.
Addison raises an objection. He accuses Tsikata of asking questions on the original petition which have since been amended and which the court has sustained an earlier objection he [Addison] raised when Tsikata attempted to ask questions on the first petition.
Tsikata says there is a changing series of numbers provided by the petitioners. Those changes “reflect the lack of evidence and substance in the claim” and for which reason he must be allowed to ask the witness his question on the importance the committee which Bawumia chaired placed on the same serial numbers. He asserts that the committee in the initial petition filed played little emphasis on the alleged same serial number irregularity.
He says there is no irregularity on the use of duplicate serial number. He adds the identity of each pink sheet is identified by the Polling station name, code, presiding officer and the polling agent.
Bawumia disagrees. He says the fact that the second respondent was not truthful in its answer to the same serial number allegation is enough basis for their petition.
Counsel for the second respondent James Quarshie Idun raises an objection to the claims by the witness that the EC told a lie in the answer to the same serial number allegations. He says the witness has a right to disagree with the EC but has no right to accuse them of lying.
Bawumia admits and rephrases his language. “I think it will be okay to say the EC was economical with the truth” he says.
Presiding Judge Atuguba says the power to determine the truth lies with the bench after evidence has been adduced.
Tsikata tenders an exhibit, which is Guidelines by the EC. The Guidelines sought to explain the relevance of the serial number to the election.
Atuguba intervenes. He does not see the relevance of tendering that exhibit. He would rather the counsel add that that exhibit as an address to the bench and not to ask the witness a question on it. Tsikata insists the question is relevant to his cross-examination and should be made to ask the witness.
Addison is up. He accuses Tsikata of contesting almost all the rulings that have gone against him and has managed to get the presiding Judge to allow him to continue on this particular occasion even though he had earlier been stopped from going along that line.
Atuguba responds saying, Tiskata says he Atuguba has “hijacked his question mid air. He should land [with the question] and we will see whether it will beat the security barrier.”
Tsikata lands with his question by asking the witness on the Guideline but Atuguba intervenes. He says the exhibit must be put in an address to the bench. He says the interrogation on the Guidelines must not be recorded.
Tsikata continues and says the only reason that the witness’ committee has fastened on the serial number irregularity is because there is no basis for their petition. He says serial numbers are not even checked by political party agents because they think it is not important.
Bawumia in part agrees with Tsikata. He says it is true that political parties do not check the serial numbers but he is quick to add that the same serial number different results is the “clever” way of tampering with result and engaging in many malpractices. He says the rationale provided by the EC for the printing of the duplicates have turned out not to be true, adding that the malpractices that went into the duplicate serial number forms are “too high to be ignored”.
Tsikata goes into another set of pink sheet exhibits and begins another cross examination.
1405 Court reconvenes.
Tsatsu Tsikata asks if petitioners are able to provide the duplicate copies of the pink sheet exhibits which have the same serial number.
The petitioners were asked by the Presiding Judge Atuguba to provide the list after the break or tell the court why they will not be able to provide the duplicate lists.
Philip Addison says the list would be provided an hour before hearing on Tuesday. He explains that even though they were provided with the list on Thursday, they were not told by Tsikata that they should provide the duplicate list with same serial numbers.
Tsikata says it will be difficult to continue his cross examination if the duplicated copies are not made available.
Atuguba grants “amnesty” for an early adjournment at 930 tomorrow but admonishes all parties to sort out the differences on exhibits to make for a speedy trial.