General News of Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Source: Daily Guide

Pink sheet EC officials freed

A member of the legal team of the petitioners challenging the validity of John Dramani Mahama as president has said attempts by some Electoral Commission (EC) officials to manipulate pink sheets will consolidate the petitioners’ case.

He told DAILY GUIDE on condition of anonymity that “obviously they are all over the place trying to manipulate the pink sheets but it is strengthening our case. We understand they have succeeded in altering a lot of the documents but they are going to go down with it.”

The lawyer was reacting to media reports that the Northern Regional Police Command arrested EC officials, including the deputy Regional Director, Godfred Okley, in connection with tampering with electoral documents.

On Sunday, Salamatu Osman, a national service person at the Savelugu-Nanton District Electoral office, was caught by irate NPP supporters with pink sheets of the December 2012 presidential election results in her possession, looking for presiding officers in the area to sign them.

When arrested, she mentioned the Savelugu District Electoral Officer, Akumani Benjamin Akanda, as the one who asked her to look for the agents.

The pink sheets contain records of the number of ballots issued at a polling station on voting day, the total number of votes, the ballot account and the number of votes obtained by each candidate. The presiding officer at each polling station must sign all pink sheets.

The alleged tampering of the records intensified after the EC and President Mahama, both respondents in the petition, received ‘further and better particulars’ from the petitioners as ordered by the Supreme Court handling the case.

In an effort to ensure a speedy disposal of the petition, the court directed the petitioners to serve the EC and President Mahama with details including names and codes of the 11,916 polling stations where they (petitioners) alleged irregularities and malpractices occurred during the December 7 and 8, 2012 election.

DAILY GUIDE sources said that upon receipt of the documents, the commission dispatched the documents to the regions to scout for the presiding officers to append their signatures.

However, EC PRO Christian Owusu-Parry yesterday tried to play down the incident and claimed that the pink sheets were in the districts in the custody of the various heads.

He denied categorically that the EC headquarters in Accra had directed election officials in the districts to validate the pink sheets.

He promised swift investigation into the matter and added that the Commission was in the process of inviting the affected officers who had since been granted bail by the police, to explain their actions in Accra.

He told Joy FM that the commission was concerned that the officers involved did not exercise good judgment in their attempts to obtain post-facto signatures on the pink sheets, especially given that the outcome of the elections was being challenged in a court of law.

The NPP lawyer said, “Everybody has seen what they are doing. When we tender our pink sheets and it is different from theirs, the court would know that altered the documents subsequently.

“We are aware of what they are doing all over Ghana and I am hopeful that the court is taking judicial notice of these developments.”