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Opinions of Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

NDC are Panicking

over recent Statement made by Supreme Court Judge Atuguba

Once again, the desire to be of service to humanity as inhered in me obliges that I offer free tutorials on court procedures to some panicking NDC faithful, their agents and internet assigns. It makes me feel much better and proud when I come to the aid of the needy in whichever capacity I am called upon.

There are many "educated illiterates" in the NDC party and government. They are very supportive of any undertaking by the NDC. However, they seem to not be very conversant with court procedures, obligations and requirements. Needlessly, they are very agitated over a recent statement made by Presiding Judge Atuguba. He issued that statement when dismissing the motion filed by Lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata, the counsel for the 3rd respondent (NDC) to cross-examine a number of witnesses whose affidavits were tendered as evidence by Nana Akufo Addo and Co challenging the outcome of the presidential Election 2012.

In his dismissal statement of the motion, Presiding Judge Atuguba said, "the court has enough evidence to make a firm decision and would not need extra information from the said witnesses to make a determination of the case. Also, granting the request would prolong the case". This pithy observation and credible statement, an obligatory requirement for speeding up the determination of the case without allowing for manoeuverability; the erection of any intentional dillydallying obstructions, has dazed all NDC members and supporters. They were all for "Tsatsu Quote Quote" calling in the witnesses to presumably spend weeks if not months to cross-examine each of them. Tony Lithur had also served notice that he would take his turn to cross-examine them. They had intended to spend years cross-examining the petitioners' witnesses to enable President Mahama linger on, although doubtfully elected.

If Tsatsu knew he would not be allowed to cross-examine other witnesses from the petitioners' side based on the wasteful days and time spent needlessly tormenting Dr Bawumia with irrelevant questions, he would have curtailed the number of days spent asking Dr Bawumia unintelligent questions. "Had I known is always at last". If the vicious person knew he would end up consuming the very game's (animal) head that he haphazardly smoked, he would have taken time to prepare it properly. Thinking someone else was going to eat it, he did it anyhow. Nonetheless, he ended up eating it; badly as it was smoked. This adage bears similitude to how malevolently Tsatsu Tsikata has gone about cross-examining Dr Bawumia. His time-consuming style of questioning has cost him any further chance of cross-examining any other witness. He is not a good lawyer although a good Law Professor he is. May I please ask all Ghanaians, irrespective of their political inclination, to read the following; the basis for this publication or write-up.

What is the purpose of cross-examination, one may ask? "Cross-examination is to ask for clarification, to expose weaknesses in the argument or evidence, to discredit the witness, or to elicit facts favourable to the party the cross-examiner is representing. Indeed, cross-examination is arguably the essential, if not sole, purpose of a criminal trial".

Cross-examinations are vital in criminal trials. They are the very pivots on which the case revolves. How convincingly successfully you carry out your cross-examination determines or influences the judgment in favour of the party the cross-examiner is representing.

However, is the petition filed by Nana Akufo Addo, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey regarding Election 2012 (Presidential) assigned a criminal trial? To the best of my knowledge the answer is a BIG NO! Is it then necessary to grant Tsatsu Tsikata (the counsel for NDC) endless number of days to maliciously cross-examine Dr Bawumia as it is ongoing? The answer is again a BIG NO!

The case before the Supreme Court is simply about investigating and certifying that indeed, irregularities, malpractices, omissions and commissions constituting statutory violations did occur during presidential Election 2012. If any such statutory violations did take place, how did they impact the final election results and the declaration of verdict by the Electoral Commission?

What are the presumably irregularities, malpractice and omissions that allegedly happened during the elections? They are:

1. Over-votes (where the number of valid and rejected ballot papers in the ballot box exceed the number of votes cast at that particular polling station?

2. Under-votes (where the number of valid and rejected ballot papers in the ballot box are less than the number of votes cast at that particular polling station?

3. Voting without going through biometric verification

4. Unsigned pink sheets (Presiding officers for the Electoral Commission not signing the Statement of Poll and Declarations form called "pink sheets")

5. Duplication of same serial numbers on many pink sheets used in different polling stations but bearing different election results

How does the commission of any of the enumerated acts proven to constitute statutory violations? They will be interpreted in terms of the supporting Constitutional Instruments (CI74 etc) used to conduct the elections. The stipulations of the CIs made all the above cited situations illegal. Therefore, the results from any such polling station are destined for obligatory cancellation. I should not dwell on this to waste more time but had better move on.

11,842 or so pink sheets were presented to the court with affidavits attached to each copy, explaining the problem alleged. The petitioners prayed the court to investigate the violation(s) as indicated by cross-checking the information on the face of each alleged pink sheet to ascertain the veracity of the petitioners' claim. They supported their information on the hardcopy (pink sheets) with a softcopy (CD-Rom).

When there are credible evidential documents as it is in this case, cross-examinations do not necessarily carry any weight in determining the verdict. No matter how you intimidate the witness to contradict him or herself, the official documents serving as proof do not change and it is on the documents that the truth could be established.

No wonder therefore the view tersely expressed by Presiding Judge William Atuguba culminating in the NDC, their agents and assigns panicking. The message has sent a cold chill down the spine of NDC. If indeed such irregularities did occur which GOD has revealed to Kofi Basoah that they did, tipping the balance in favour of then Presidential-candidate John Mahama as attested to by the pink sheets, then the Supreme Court needs no further cross-examinations of any witness. They truly have more than enough evidence to determine the case.

The best the respondents could do was to present their pink sheets to contest the petitioners' version of claim if theirs bear different details in which case the court must establish how and why that. In the absence of that, further cross-examinations are pointless as said by the Presiding Judge Atuguba.

The NDC faithful must bear in mind that there are cases where you may not need to appear physically in court. You can pray the court to pronounce judgment based on the evidence provided to her in hardcopy, and supported by affidavits or covering letters.

Rockson Adofo