General News of Saturday, 1 June 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
KPMG, the international audit firm appointed by the Supreme Court to audit pink sheets submitted by the petitioners challenging results of the December 2012 presidential election, KPMG, has completed its work.
The audit firm is in the process of writing its report on the counting and the categorisation of the pink sheets.
Sources close to the parties in the election petition who confirmed this to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, however, declined to give further details.
This notwithstanding, a senior partner of KPMG, Mr Joe Winful in an interview refused politely to comment on whether or not the firm had completed its work, except to say that they were yet to communicate to the Supreme Court officially on its assignment.
Pink Sheet “War”
The form on which the statement of poll and the declaration of results for the office of President and Parliament are recorded is also known as the pink sheet.
It is so-called because it is coloured in pink.
The issue of the actual number of pink sheets submitted by the petitioners has become a thorny and delicate one for weeks because the petitioners and the respondents have given varied figures.
While the petitioners insist they served 11,842 pink sheets on the Supreme Court Registry, the respondents, namely, President John Dramani Mahama, the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), disagree.
Counsel for the President, Mr Tony Lithur, had argued in court that he received 8,579 pink sheets, while counsel for the NDC, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, said his client had taken custody of about 8,000 pink sheets.
However, the EC has not come out clearly on the number of pink sheets it has received, but its lawyer, Mr James Quashie-Idun, also informed the court that his client took custody of less than 11,842 pink sheets.
Following the tenacious disagreement among the parties on the actual number of pink sheets submitted to the court, the court, on May 9, 2013, in consultation with the parties, ordered that the pink sheets be audited.
Meanwhile, the petitioners have, since the beginning of the hearing, deleted 704 pink sheets and are currently relying on 11,138 pink sheets in their final analysis.
Lawyers for the President and the NDC, in a letter dated May 21, 2013 and addressed to KPMG, alleged that 10 additional boxes had been added to 24 already inspected boxes.
“It is our opinion that the ten boxes that were not part of those inspected on May 16, 2013 ought to be identified, isolated and excluded, as they are not part of the subject matter of the court order on May 9, 2013,” the letter, signed by Mr Lithur and Samuel Cudjoe, a lawyer for the NDC, stated.
Lawyers for the petitioners, on the other hand, have fervidly opposed the allegations of the two respondents.
A former Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, denied the claims of the respondents and described them as totally false.
Mr Philip Addison, lead counsel for the petitioners, also stated in court that the allegations by the two respondents were part of their many cooked up stories and must, therefore, be ignored with impunity.
The Position of the Court and Referee KPMG The nine-member Supreme Court panel, which comprises Mr Justice William Atuguba, Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Annin Yeboah, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo, affirmed its decision in giving the KPMG the green light to audit the pink sheets submitted to the court’s registry by the petitioners on April 7, 2013.
The judges, however, urged the auditors to officially note down any complaint from any of the parties in the final report.
The hearing of the substantive petition began on April 17, 2013.
So far, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has testified on behalf of the petitioners and has been cross-examined by lawyers for President Mahama, the EC and the NDC.
The General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, has also given evidence on behalf of the NDC and President Mahama and has since been cross- examined by the other parties in the case.
The Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, began giving his evidence-in-chief on Thursday, May 30, 2013 and is expected to continue on June 3, 2013.
The petitioners have alleged that the December 7 and 8, 2012 presidential election was fraught with malpractices of over-voting, non-signing of pink sheets by some presiding officers or their assistants, voting without biometric verification and duplicated serial numbers of pink sheets.
However, President Mahama, the EC and, the NDC have denied that any such irregularities occurred during the election.
The Court and Issues for Consideration
The court will take into account evidence adduced by the parties and their witnesses and the laws of the country before arriving at its final decision.
It has, in the meantime, narrowed down two issues for determination. They are whether or not statutory violations, omissions, malpractices and irregularities occurred during the conduct of the elections held on December 7 and 8, 2012.
It will also ascertain whether or not the said violations, omissions, irregularities and malpractices (if any) affected the outcome of the election.