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General News of Friday, 12 July 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Pink sheets with same serial numbers at petition hearing

Pink sheets with triplicate and quadruplicate serial numbers and different polling stations with same codes were the main highlights of proceedings at the Supreme Court hearing of the presidential election petition in Accra yesterday.

There was an instance when four pink sheets from the Onyai Shi, Katamanso Presbyterian Primary A, Assembly of God Church Ataa Sackey B and Finger of God Church polling stations, all in the Greater Accra Region, had the same serial number 0025200.

Another set of pink sheets from the Michelle Camp JHS B, Methodist Church Zenu B, Garrison Primary School, Michelle Camp and St John Bosco Catholic Polling stations, all in the Greater Accra Region, also had 0025194 written on them as their serial number.

Three lists, all containing three sets of pink sheets with the same serial numbers, were also tendered in evidence, alongside the two lists each inclosing four pink sheets with the same serial number.

List of 1,823 pairs of pink sheets with same serial numbers Lawyers for the petitioners challenging the declaration of President John Dramani Mahama as the winner of the December 7 and 8, 2012 presidential poll also tendered in evidence a list of 1,823 pairs of pink sheets with same serial numbers.

The entire list of pink sheets with triplicate or quadruplicate serial numbers was tendered in evidence as exhibits through the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, who is currently being cross-examined by lead counsel for the petitioners, Mr Philip Addison.

Prior to the tendering of the lists, Mr Quashie-Idun had told the court that he had studied the lists and realised there were 10 of them that did not have duplicates but stated that he would not object to the tendering of the lists because he would deliver an address on them later.

On his part, counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, said he also observed there were some of the lists that had no triplications, adding that it was also observed the pairings were not correct. Nonetheless, counsel said he would not object to the tendering of the list because his side would eventually point out the errors in the lists.

He said the EC did not print the pink sheets and further held that there were no indications of triplications, adding, “We are quite content to go with the list.”

The witness looked through each of the list of pink sheets and confirmed they had either triplicate or quadruplicate serial numbers but sought permission from the court to cross-check those pink sheets with the records of the EC and the printers of those pink sheets.

Mr Addison disagrees

Responding to Dr Afari-Gyan’s request, Mr Addison disagreed with him on the grounds that the pink sheets were already part of the court’s records. According to counsel, his side was seeking to lay the foundation for duplicate and triplicate pink sheets with same serial numbers which had been captured in the KPMG audit report.

Counsel argued that his side had not had the benefit of seeing the original pink sheets, but Dr Afari-Gyan said, “My Lords, KPMG does not have original copies.”

At that moment, the court granted Dr Afari-Gyan’s appeal but Mr Addison insisted that the EC was bound by the records of pink sheets in the court’s record.

However, the President of the nine-member panel, Mr Justice William Atuguba, told Mr Addison that the panel members had consulted among themselves before giving Dr Afari-Gyan permission to cross-check the pink sheets with same serial numbers with the originals.

Mr Addison then told the court that following Dr Afari-Gyan’s request to cross-check the pink sheets, the petitioners might have to suspend their cross- examination.

But Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo reminded counsel that the respondents had not objected to the list of pairs of 1,823 pink sheets on which the witness was being cross-examined.

Dr Afari-Gyan told the court that the EC would like to make its findings known to the court after the cross-checking, while Mr Addison continued with his cross-examination of the witness.

You printed more than two sets of pink sheets – Mr Addison Mr Addison reminded the Chairman of the EC that he had told the court that the EC printed more than two sets of pink sheets and for that reason he should explain how come there were triplicate and quadruplicate sets of pink sheets with same serial numbers.

“I cannot understand how there could be triplicate and quadruplicates. That is why we have to check. We did not print more than two sets,” the witness answered.

Counsel for the petitioners pushed further and told the witness that the exhibits in court clearly showed there were four sets of pink sheets, but the witness answered, “My Lords, we printed two sets.”

Mr Addison then suggested to the witness that he was misleading the court, but the witness disagreed with that suggestion.

We are being given new set of polling stations with duplicate polling station codes.

Counsel for the EC, Mr James Quashie-Idun, shot to his feet while the cross-examination was going on to draw the court’s attention to a set of 20 lists containing polling stations with the same code numbers which, according to him, had been handed to him “less than five minutes ago”.

Mr Justice Sophia Adinyira advised counsel to allow the cross-examination on the pink sheets with the same serial numbers before making his interjection.

Piecemeal approach won’t help – Mr Justice Jones Dotse

Mr Addison informed the court that his team working on the exhibits had just handed him the list of the polling stations with the same codes but counsel for the EC said his team needed time to go over the list.

Mr Quashie-Idun had by then handed the list over to the IT experts working for the EC.

Mr Justice Jones Dotse told Mr Addison that the “piecemeal approach” to the cross-examination would not help the court to facilitate the hearing and reminded counsel that the list of1,545 pink sheets which had been excluded in the final analysis of the KPMG report had still not been produced by the petitioners to enable the respondents to cross-check.

Mr Addison explained that it was difficult for his team to state the specific time the technical team would complete working out the list for cross-examination.

That, according to him, was because exerting pressure on the technical team would result in mistakes which counsel said his side wanted to avoid.

We have tried not to intervene – Mr Justice Gbadegbe

Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe told counsel that although the court had tried not to intervene on how cross-examination should be done in order not to send a wrong signal, it was important, and in the interest of the administration of justice, to have the matter settled expeditiously to meet the expectations of Ghanaians.

Mr Addison replied that his team did not want to push the technical team too much in order to avoid errors, but Mr Quashie-Idun enquired when his team would get the full list from the petitioners to work on.

Mr Justice Dotse then suggested that it would be better for the bench to rise for a break in order to give the petitioners enough time to come out with a definite timeline to submit all lists to the respondents to scrutinise.

After the break, it emerged that the petitioners were to submit lists on irregularities to the respondents to study for hearing to continue in “full blast on Monday”, as captured in Justice Atuguba’s words.

List of eight pairs of polling stations with same codes

After the break, Mr Addison handed Dr Afari-Gyan a list of eight pairs of pink sheets from eight different polling stations.

Information on the said pink sheets, as read out by Dr Afari-Gyan, indicated that each of the two polling stations had different names but the same code number.

Although the witness admitted the polling stations had different names but the same code numbers, he explained that one of the pink sheets was for the general polls while the other was for special voting.

He, however, could not tell which of the pink sheets was for special voting and stated that he could only tell after referring to the collation forms that had captured information on the said pink sheets.

But Mr Addison suggested to the witness that he (witness) was misleading the court with that explanation.

Counsel also stated that nowhere in the EC manual or anywhere in the laws governing elections had it been stated that pink sheets could be used for special voting.

But the witness dissented.

Duplicate 26,002 codes

Mr Addison asked the witness if the EC had duplicate codes in the list of 26,002 polling stations used for the December 2012 elections, to which the witness said, “In the official list, no.”

Counsel then reminded Dr Afari-Gyan that he had had in his possession the pink sheets with different names and same codes since April 2013, but the witness answered, “I have just seen this pink sheet today.”

Mr Quashie-Idun intervened and told the court that those issues were best left for the address stage.

Extract of Register from Anglican Primary Polling Station, Mampong

Mr Addison showed a register from the Anglican Primary Polling Station, Mampong to prove a point of double registration but had to withdraw the document after Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie had intervened and drawn his attention to the fact that the pages on the extract did not tally with the pages in the original register.

Another panel member, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe, also stated that the petitioners would not be fair to the EC if they proceeded in that direction because it was now public knowledge for pictures to be taken and put on other backgrounds.

Mr Addison then stated, “We disagree, but we will withdraw the document,” and the bench unanimously permitted him to withdraw.

Hearing continues on Monday, July 15, 2013.

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