General News of Thursday, 28 February 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Akufo-Addo's petition lacks merit - Mahama declares

President John Dramani Mahama has said the petitioners challenging his declaration as the winner of the December 7, 2012 polls have failed to provide evidence on how the election results were tampered with.

He said despite the orders of the Supreme Court dated February 5, 2013 and directed at the petitioners to provide him with particulars of the manner in which the results of the presidential election were tampered with, the petitioners had “refused to do so”.

In a response to the amended petition dated February 26, 2013, President Mahama denied claims of irregularities and accordingly prayed the court to dismiss the entire petition, “since it lacks merit”.

In a response filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Mr Tony Lithur, the President said it was acknowledged by all observers, domestic, as well as international, that “the conduct of the elections had been generally free, fair, as well as transparent”.

The petitioners, the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the December 2012 elections, Nana Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, had, in their December 28, 2013 petition, called for the annulment of votes cast in 4,709 polling stations but amended their petition on January 31, 2013 and cited 11,916 polling stations as the total number of polling stations where alleged irregularities were recorded.

They had initially called for the cancellation of 1,342,845 valid votes cast during the election at 4,709 polling stations due to what they termed “gross and widespread irregularities” recorded during the elections but are now praying the Supreme Court to pronounce an additional 3,327,659 valid votes cast during the elections as invalid.

The Supreme Court, on January 5, 2013, granted the petitioners’ prayer of amendment and accordingly allowed the amendment, thereby making 11,916 polling stations the official figure in the court’s records.

According to President Mahama, to the knowledge of the petitioners and their polling agents, results were declared at the various polling stations after “painstaking public and transparent sorting and counting and/or collation (and sometimes recounting) at the various polling stations and collation centres, with the full participation of first petitioner’s accredited agents, who did not protest the declared results at the time of their declaration”.

He said the “petitioners’ allegations are brazen with attempts to find excuses for losing the 2012 presidential election”, adding that it was also not true his votes were illegally padded, while those of Nana Akufo-Addo were unlawfully reduced.

The answer to the amended petition also stated that the results declared at all polling stations across the country, as reflected in the pink sheets, were the product of “properly supervised elections in which the petitioners and the NPP, their political party, their polling/or counting agents participated and that in all cases voting was done on the basis of biometric voters register, made available to all political parties prior to the elections”.

In response to claims that the EC failed to provide the NPP with the provisional register of voters in accordance with Regulation 21 (2) of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters), Regulation 2012 (C.I. 72), thereby disabling the petitioners and their party from effectively verifying the names on the list to ascertain their authenticity, President Mahama said the EC made available copies of the voters register to the NDC and the NPP.

He accordingly held that, “there was no unequal treatment” on him, the NDC, the NPP as well as the petitioners and other political parties, “regarding the materials that were made available to them by the second respondent prior to, during or after the elections.”

On allegations that, although, a common register was compiled for both the presidential and parliamentary elections, the total number of registered voters in respect of the presidential election exceeded that of the registered voters for the parliamentary elections by 127,210 voters; the President said to the best of his knowledge and belief, a common register was used for both elections,” and accordingly described the allegations as “clearly false and disingenuous”.

President Mahama refuted allegations that Superlock Technologies Limited (STL) allegedly harboured him, while intercepting faxed results of the elections.

Describing the accusations as “completely false,” he said the attack on the STL offices was “one of the many instances of wanton violence and destruction by NPP supporters during the election and the period after the declaration of the results.”

“Upon receiving information of the attack on the offices of STL, a combined team of representatives of political parties including the NPP, led by Honourable Osafo-Maafo, with their respective information technology experts and the National Peace Council went round and inspected the premises of STL during which visit, it was found that the allegation that the STL was receiving and/or intercepting results of elections before transmitting them to second respondent’s strong room was completely false,” the President’s answer to the amended petition stated.

On the petitioners’ claim that the EC on December 9, 2012 declared the total number of registered voters as 14,158,890 instead of the 14,031,680, the EC had originally furnished political parties with, thereby, showing a disparity of 127,097; the President said that was not true, adding that in any case that had no bearing on the total number of votes cast as well as “wholly irrelevant” to the outcome of the election and present petition.

The answer to the amended petition further contended that the suggestion by petitioners that there were some veiled reasons for the difference between 13,917,366 and the final number of registered voters smacked of utmost “bad faith”.

It said, “assuming without admitting” that some polling stations had the same code numbers, that fact alone would not invalidate the declared results of supervised elections in those polling stations and the votes validly cast.

President Mahama refuted the assertion that 4,670,504 votes had been rendered invalid and must, therefore, be annulled by the Supreme Court on the grounds that, “the statements and calculations contained therein completely lack any basis in law/or fact and should be wholly rejected by the Honourable Court.”

“Anyhow, the results of the presidential elections declared by the second respondent were based on the exercise of the fundamental rights of Ghanaian eligible voters under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution,” the President said.

In any case, the President stated that quite apart from fingerprint verification, there were other methods of verification permissible under the law and, therefore, the inability of some eligible voters to undergo fingerprint verification, through no fault of theirs, could, therefore, not form the basis for depriving such voters of their fundamental rights under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution.

The President affirmed that any electoral laws and/or directives, the effect of which would be to invalidate the votes of such persons, who had properly presented themselves at polling stations to vote, and had been duly identified as registered voters in the biometric electoral register, would be inconsistent with Article 42 of the Constitution, and therefore, unconstitutional.”

According to the President, the results of the election were publicly declared at the various polling stations and constituencies and were matters of public knowledge, adding, “the results were the product of painstaking, public and transparent sorting and counting and/or collation (and sometimes re-counting) at the various polling stations and collation centres with the full participation of the petitioner’s accredited polling and/or counting agents, and those of other contesting political parties, who certified such results by appending signatures to the declaration forms.”

On allegations that all irregularities and electoral malpractices were a deliberate, well-calculated and executed ploy to unlawfully assist the President to win the elections and thus subvert the sovereign will of the people, the President said, it was rather the petitioners who were by the present petition, seeking to subvert the constitution, undermine the integrity of the EC and the whole electoral system and the “sovereign will of the people of Ghana by demanding from the Honourable Court an order annulling the results of the exercise of their fundamental rights under the Constitution.”

The President intends to cite the reported cases including Tehn Addy v Electoral Commission [1996-97] SCGLR 589; Apaloo v Electoral Commission [1996-97] SCGLR 253; Election of the First President, In Re: Appiah v Attorney General [1969] 2G&G 530; Tuffuor v Attorney General (1980) GLR 637; Fenuku v John Teye [2001-2002] SCGLR 985; Buhari v Obasanjo 9 2005) 2NWLR (pt. 910) 214; Re Agyepong (Decd): Poku v Abosi and Another [1982-83] 2GLR 475 to prove his innocence.

The President also plans to rely on the 1992 Constitution and other statutes including: The Presidential Elections Act, 1992, PNDCL 285; The Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2012, (C. I. 72); The Public Elections Regulations, 2012, C. I. 75; The Supreme Court Amendment Rules, 2012, (C. I. 74) and The Evidence Act, 1975 (NRCD 323) and to affirm his position that he was the truly elected candidate in the December 7, 2012 elections.