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Opinions of Thursday, 2 May 2013

Columnist: Jackson, Margaret

Hot Coals Under Bawumia’s Feet

By Margaret Jackson

April 30, 2013

Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, lead counsel for the NDC in the on-going Supreme Court (SC) electoral dispute of the 2012 Presidential Election did not waste time in tearing the so-called water tight evidence gathered by Dr Mahamadu Bawumia during the petition hearing on Monday.

Mr Tsikata immediately went after Bawumia on the supposed 22 “ghost” polling stations when he asked Bawumia if he was aware of the letters written by the NPP to the Electoral Commission (EC) whereby the specific names of the NPP polling agents for those ghost polling stations were mentioned.

But to the surprise of the court, Bawumia who was bemused replied that he was not aware of the NPP writing those letters to the EC. Bawumia however added that some officials of the NPP may have written those letters but he was not aware it. If he was not aware of it, could Bawumia not have done due diligence to find out about it before making those allegations on the supposed ghost polling stations?

At one point Bawumia started looking at the direction of his lawyers for coaching on what answers he should be giving to questions posed by Tsatsu Tsikata. Mr Tsikata saw this ploy and drew the attention of the court that Bawumia was being coached by his lawyers on what to say and that behaviour was unacceptable. He then asked Bawumia’s lawyers to come join him in the witness box to help him to answer the questions if they so wish.

Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, who got the most for his line of questioning, forced Bawumia who reeled badly under pressure to admit to multiple issues which he brought forward. What Tsikata did was aimed at punching holes or shredding the evidence that Bawumia and Co. have presented to the court.

For instance, Tsikata made Bawumia aware that according to the Guidelines for the conduct of the 2012 Elections, if for some reason the presiding officer forgets to append his/her signature, as far as we have the signatures of the polling agents, it does not invalidate the results. Bawumia who had previously told the EC counsel that he did not know of such guidelines was also forced by Tsikata to read portions of the guidelines on the role of polling agents.

Bawumia, who did not know of the role of polling agents or was just trying to play smart, stated that it is the sole responsibility of presiding officers to ensure the sanctity of the conduct of elections and declaration of the results,. That was when Tsatsu Tsikata forced Bawumia to read portions of the guidelines concerning the role of polling agents who Bawumia has labelled “Exalted Agents”.

Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, who methodically forced Bawumia to concede too many issues, asked Bawumia to produce just a single complaints sheet filed by any of the NPP polling agents on the alleged voter fraud. But Bawumia told the court that he does not have anything to show to the court by way of complaints.

At a point in time Tsikata produced two pink results sheets which the NPP presented as part of their evidence. Those sheets have the same name of the presiding officer and polling agents, so Tsikata forced Bawumia to concede that it is highly impossible to have the same officer and agents at two different polling stations on Election Day. Tsikata sought by this act to expose the NPP for making dupes to deceive the court in the on-going case.

What exposed Bawumia badly was when Tsikata made Bawumia to admit that it is highly impossible to look on the face of a pink sheet to conclude that somebody who is not authorized to vote was allowed to vote. Again, Bawumia conceded that if you look on the face of the pink sheet, you will not be able to determine the number of disabled persons authorized to vote or not to vote.

Bawumia who was nicknamed “Dr Pink Sheet” by Tsikata and has always maintained that all his supposed analysis were based on the pink results sheets suddenly made a U-turn and informed the court that he also used the voter register for his so-called analysis. That was when Bawumia stated that he raised issues with any pink results sheet if the voter register states that there was no disabled person in a certain area but they found on the pink results sheet that a disabled person voted in that area on Election Day.

Bawumia who kept saying the law does not say so repeatedly, has to be cautioned by Tsatsu Tsikata to refrain from that act since he is an expert on the law. The NPP evidence in chief, Bawumia, found himself on the hot seat as his admission on so many issues that Tsikata raised seriously cast doubts on the evidence he had presented to the SC.

Under a barrage of questions which put Bawumia under uncomfortable zone, Philip Addison, lead counsel for Bawumia had to spring up to save him by asking the justices to impress upon Tsikata to allow Bawumia to answer the questions.

Tsikata simply tore the so-called evidence of the NPP on the 22 ghost polling stations, non-signature by the presiding officers and the voting without verification into pieces. He seriously put Bawumia on the defence and made him admit to his own mistakes or lack of knowledge on all these areas.

Again, the demeanour of the NPP lawyers who were in court clearly gave them up as Bawumia who was caged was forced to admit to many things, as he lost his talking point notes in court. The burden of proof has become much more difficult for Bawumia if you are keenly following the proceedings in court, because you cannot simply take somebody to court for committing mistakes when you commit same mistakes in your evidence gathering and also feign ignorance to certain existing laws or guidelines.

magjackson80@yahoo.com http://majjacks80.blogspot.com