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Opinions of Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Columnist: Kumado and Rashid

EC faces possible investigation into Ghanaian votes abroad

In anticipation of a legal challenge to the just finished elections in Ghana ( 7 December 2012 ), and the various requests for evidence from the Supreme Court of Ghana from both sides, our investigation Desk conducted a fact finding undertaking into the controversial figures surrounding Ghanaian voters abroad.

We must however make one thing clear; we are not aligned to any political party in Ghana. Our interest is to ensure Ghana's democratic dispensation continues to grow and that transparency is the hallmark of this democracy. Again, our quest is to make sure the truth and nothing else reigns. In the end, the truth will vindicate one party or the other in this legal challenge.

Please note, Vigilante Citizens of Ghana have one objective, making the truth available. The rest is for the courts and Ghanaians to decide who is telling the truth.

When the Supreme Court declared that the EC should furnish the political parties with the list of the 241,000 who voted in the elections ( 7 December 2012 ),we employed private detectives to investigate who, how and when the 241,000 people voted i.e. people in the missions, UN assignments as well as Ghanaian students abroad.

We have since established that indeed, people voted. We have also established that these voters were not verified.

We have also established that the number of voters being quoted by the EC may have been overly bloated. We however aren't sure whether this is deliberate or perhaps an arithmetic mistake.

Our investigators started with the student body. They spoke to students on scholarship, most complained that they could not exercise their franchise in the just ended 7th December 2012 elections. Our team have compiled a long list of names, ages, courses and places of study in addition to their letter of scholarship sponsorship. These letters of scholarships were checked to ascertain if indeed they [students] had gained scholarships from the Government of Ghana.

We will be looking to crosscheck this with the list Ghana's Electoral Commission provides as part of its evidence. To be honest, many were surprised and expressed regret for not voting. They were however not enthused when it was suggested their names could be in a list yet to be sighted from the Electoral Commission. Many have expressed their intention of appearing as witnesses to the court case, should their names find its way into a list of those who voted. We made it clear to them it could affect their educational status, but their response was, they wanted to think about the future rather than the past and that such a list could smear them for a long time in their lives if not forever and they would rather clear their names now than later.

Some expressed disgust and said they didn't think that would happen. We also expressed the same optimism. We believe in the truth.

Please note this list has been drawn from many of the students in the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and others from our sister African Countries.

Our private investigators also carried out thorough checks with the Embassies as well as Heads of Education in the various embassies. The Head of Chancery in one of the embassies (name withheld for fear of reprisals) said the courts should undertake an in-depth investigation into dire voter turnout for the overseas voters.

According to him they did their job excellently and any act of inflated figures might come from the Electoral Commission and the Government who might have taken a series of decisions to increase the figures. He did explain that there was pressure to put the numbers up and he personally did not agree with it. When pressed as to whether he would be willing to testify as to the number of voters list he passed on, he replied in the affirmative if only that can save Ghana. He however hoped he would not have to as it could mean the end of his job and possibly a threat to his life.

Another Head of Chancery said the dismal number of votes cast initially was " a concern but how the figure became bloated she cannot tell and for everyone who cares about democracy something needs to be done"

One of the investigators, when asked why he was undertaking this task claimed that, Election disputes are inherent to elections. Challenging an election, its conduct or its results, should however not be perceived as a reflection of weakness … but proof of the strength, vitality and openness of the political system…the right to vote would be merely abstract if the right to sue to enforce it was not guaranteed in law. He was optimistic that the correct figures would be tendered in evidence and that the court case would be over quickly so that they can get on with their jobs.

Asked whether he had been pressured by the powers that be, he said he would not comment. All he would say was, the figures from his side were very low than what was presented and he was concerned this could dent his hard earned image which he had struggled to build over the years. He also added it would appear most Ambassadors and their Deputies had been listed when they had gone to vote in Ghana. He was certain it was a mistake but it could be one that may not have been deliberate and asked that we bring this to the attention of the Electoral Commission.

These are just snippets of some of our forensic investigations. While collating this evidence, there were also allegations that the President, John Dramani Mahama, Tsatsu Tsikata and others had turned up in the UK to have meetings, to gather some evidence in support of the Electoral Commission.

We could not verify the allegations at the time of going to press.

However, our investigations have put the figures of those who voted outside of the country (Ghana), just above three thousand (3,124). This is because many of the students had been ordered to leave by the Ghanaian government latest by September 2012 and they could not either vote in Ghana or in the UK. These formed the majority of those abroad.

We have also sighted a list from the Scholarship Secretariat, The United Nation Missions, and Foreign Affairs as Ghanaians on assignment and these numbers, were no where near the 241,000 figure quoted when they are all added together.

We thus have reason to believe that the figure supplied by the Electoral Commission, may be a mistake they may have made and their reputation would be much more boosted if they admitted their mistake, just as they did in response to the legal petition.

We hope this helps to clear the air on the 241,000 figure going around. As guardians of our democracy, we owe it a duty to make the facts clear.

It is now up to Ghanaians to decide what to do with the evidence gathered.

Ahiadzro Kumado and Karim Rashid

Representatives of Vigilante Citizens of Ghana