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Opinions of Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Is NDC/NPP Turning the Pink Sheets Audit into a Farce?

By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK

I can bet on my life that when it comes to NDC and NPP deciding a simple matter of fact on any issue such as the names of the week, there will be disagreement between them both collectively and severally. For example, if two liquids of clear and clean water and unadulterated alcohol (gin) are kept in two separate plain glasses marked A and B respectively and you ask a representative each from NDC and NPP to taste them and identify which one is water and which one is gin, each will give contradictory answers to the other, depending on who gave his or her answer first. None would want to confirm the opponent’s answer. No wonder, yesterday, NDC representatives at the pink sheets audit claimed that new and additional seven boxes of pinks sheets had been identified in the registry of the Supreme Court, where the pinks sheets are being audited.

Unfortunately, I seem to miss the opening minutes of the Monday to Thursday hearings and as usual I missed part of Tuesday’s opening submissions. I heard lead Counsel for the third respondent pleading with the Justices to review the auditing process since what was delivered had been compromised. As expected, lead Counsels for the first and second respondents supported him, whilst lead Counsel for the petitioners objected to the suggestion or application.

According to the respondents, the number of pink sheets boxes that were to be audited had increased from 24 to 31 boxes, meaning additional 7 boxes had magically appeared from nowhere. If this allegation is true, my question is, is the state Ghana and are Ghanaians serious?

With the seriousness of this case, which has the potential to destabilise Ghana, one would have expected that all security measures would have been taken, including twenty four hour close circuit television (CCTv) monitoring of where the pinks sheets were kept . Well since Ghana is not a hi-tech country but labour intensive, why was the registry not guarded by police around the clock? Again, one would have expected that on the arrival of all the parties concerned [two representatives each from the parties involved in the petition (NPP, President Mahama, EC, and NDC)], together with the referee (KPMG) as well as representative of the SC, their first task would have been to receive all the boxes and to satisfy themselves beyond any reasonable doubt that they were the pink sheets boxes provided by the petitioners to the SC.

The second task would have been for all the parties to count the total number of boxes and number them accordingly. The third, was to ensure that the contents of each box were indeed, nothing but said pinks sheets. Having established these facts, then each box is sealed with the signatures of all the representatives before agreeing on the modalities for the auditing.

Prior to each box being opened and audited it is inspected by all parties to satisfy themselves that it has not been tampered with (in other words, the seal is intact and the signatures were the originals before it is opened for auditing). During the auditing, the remaining boxes are locked and under the watchful eye of security.

When a box is fully audited, the pink sheets are packed into a new box and labelled with a unique reference number/s or letter/s and the total number of counted pink sheets boldly written on the box. It is then sealed with the signatures of all the representatives and date of auditing. These exercises are repeated any time a box is opened and audited. If a box is opened, auditing must be completed by the close of day each day to avoid the risk of tampering.

If the above simple measures and commons sense approach were taken, how could this allegation of seven new and additional boxes of pink sheets appear from nowhere? It would not have been possible to obtain the signatures of all the parties involved and there would be no conspiracy theories. The method outlined above would have even prevented the possibility of fraud without the need for twenty-four hour CCTv monitoring or police security around the clock.

From the media reports, it appears that representatives from the contesting parties (that is, the petitioners and the respondents) did not even count the total number of pink sheets boxes when they met for the first time to begin the audit. This is strange if not laughable. Was this deliberate? I find it a bit odd that the referee (KPMG) also did not ensure that the total number of boxes were counted and agreed on by all parties first before the audit began.

Is Ghana a joke? I just cannot believe that such fraud or hoax could take place at the premises of the Supreme Court. Maybe, I am too naive because large quantity of cocaine did go missing at the Police Headquarters and cocaine exhibit was replaced with washing soda at the premises of a court. These are indications that anything is possible in Ghana, real or imaginary.

Unfortunately, the referee (KPMG) has not responded to the allegation of the appearance of seven new and additional boxes of pink sheets. The question is, if the allegation is true, who brought them, where did they come from and how did the person/s get access to the SC registry where the boxes are kept? Is this really possible and true or is NDC just crying foul? Could it be that, from the count so far, it is feasible that the 24 boxes could contain the 11, 842 pink sheets, so this is a trick to cover up NDC’s claim that the petitioner’s provided only 8,000 plus pink sheets to them? On the other hand, could it also be possible that the petitioners having realised that the 24 boxes could fall short of the 11, 842 required, quickly arranged to clandestinely smuggle in additional seven boxes?

Whatever the case may be, if the allegation is true or not, then, fraud or criminal act has been committed and those responsible must be diligently identified and punished accordingly.

There have been too many allegations, claims and counter claims from both NDC and NPP regarding the 2012 presidential election result and the petition. Since the SC appointed the referee to audit the actual number of pink sheets, it has been alleged that National Security attempted to tamper with the pink sheets in the custody of the court. That was denied by the head of National Security. Now we have the so called mysterious seven additional boxes of pink sheets.

Whoever orchestrated this 419 fraud or allegation (hoax) must be very dumb. Is this mischief by one of the parties or someone not related to the petition but just to cause confusion? Or could this be a ploy by the party that planned and executed this fraud/hoax to prepare its members and supporters to reject the final verdict of the SC and as basis to seek a review of the decision?

One would never know the answers to these questions. At best, they will remain wild speculations in our minds because in Ghana nothing is pursued to its logical conclusion. Just consider the Nana Ama cocaine turned washing soda. Did anyone get to the bottom of that matter? No. Was her Attorney who is reported to have behaved unprofessionally by receiving payment for his services at the office of a senior police officer where his client was detained, ever sanctioned by the Ghana Bar Association or the Bar Council?

This 419, if it is true is a crime committed at the highest court of the land. Whether it is true or a hoax, it was meant to discredit and ridicule the judiciary and Ghana as a whole. That is how NDC and NPP must regard this heinous act and come together for once to assist in apprehending the culprit/s. Instead, the two main political parties are taking this allegation as the usual political football between them and throwing accusations and counter accusations, innuendos, insinuations, etc against each other. My plea to NDC and NPP leadership, members, supporters and sympathisers is that, for once, let your water be water and let your gin contain alcohol so that you can put the best interest of the nation first before your political interest. After all, whether the glass is half full or half empty, it is a truism that one half of the glass is full of water and the other half is full of air.

If NDC and NPP representatives failed to count the total number of pink sheets boxes on the first day, what is the basis of their allegation and defence respectively? Is that an error of judgement on their part or the usual Ghanaian incompetency? Until the referee (KPMG) confirms or denies the allegation, I will treat the allegation with the contempt that it deserves. Even if it is true, the respondents, particularly the first and their respondents should take the blame because it was they who claimed that they did not receive the alleged 11, 842 pink sheets from the petitioners. Therefore, the responsibility for ensuring that the total number of pink sheets boxes were accurate and not tampered with from day one, heavily lies on them.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK