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Opinions of Sunday, 6 January 2013

Columnist: Atitsogbui, Peter

NPP's Evidence Exonerate Ndc Of Vote Rigging

Let me start by thanking the Almighty God for seeing mother Ghana through this tooth and nail election without any scratch. And also commending the political parties especially the NPP for resorting to appropriate channel for redress and NDC for not celebrating the victory in antagonizing manner. All these actually managed the situation and mother Ghana has become the winner.

Now, to the issue at stake. It is recalled that the EC on the 9th December, 2012 declared HE John Dramani Mahama as the winner of the 2012 general election. In reaction, the main opposition party: NPP in a press conference rejected the outcome, alleging series of irregularities. The party went ahead to cite discrepancies on the blue sheets being the sheets at the collation centers and indicated their intention to challenge the results at the law court.

Prior to the filing of the petition at the Supreme Court, the NPP issued out some figures from some constituencies including Manya Krobo, Tamale Central, Ketu South among others and claimed that additional votes had been added to HE. Mahama’s votes. On that argument, NPP relied on the blue sheet as their source document. The EC responded by publishing all the constituency by constituency results which exposed the lies of the NPP. Thank God that now the source document has change from the blue sheet to the pink sheet and also the so called rigging has changed to irregularities.

After, keeping Ghanaians in suspense for well over two weeks with much trumpeted water tight evidence, mind boggling and incontrovertible evidence, NPP finally has let the cat out of the box on the 28th December, 2012 where they officially filed the petition at the Supreme Court. The petition alleged inta alia that the 1st and 2nd respondent ie HE John Dramani Mahama and EC had ACTIVELY CONNIVED and tilted the results in favor of the 1st Respondent.

Reliefs sort by the Petitioners are that: 1) the results at the affected polling stations should be nullified 2) the 1,340,018 which was illegally added to the valid votes cast be deducted from the accumulated votes of the respective candidates and 3) Nana Akuffo Addo be declared the winner. The party grouped their grounds into 5 irregularities including:

1) Over voting 2) Voting without biometric verification 3) No signature by presiding officers 4) Duplicate serial numbers and 5) words and figure mismatch.

For the purpose of this write up, I will limit myself to the grounds relied on by the Petitioner.

GROUNDS ONE: OVER VOTING.

According to the Petitioner, over voting is when the votes in the ballot box exceed the ballot issued to the voters, and that accounted for 620,440 votes of which HE. John Mamaha was largely the beneficiary. In explaining this Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia at a press conference showed a copy of pink sheet( check myjoyonline). On the said copy, Colum C1 reads “what is the number of ballot papers issued to voters on the polling station register “ indicates 277, C4 indicates (number of spoilt ballots) 14. Again the said copy shows a total votes in ballot box as 291. By the explanation of the author, since C1 shows 277 and total votes in ballot box shows 291 then there is over voting and therefore that polling station results should be invalidated.
The possible questions one could deduce here is: could it be a genuine mistake on the part of the presiding officer, or could it be that NPP intentionally influence the presiding officer to add the 14 votes so that they could turn round to cry foul as they have done or could it be that the NDC indeed influenced the presiding officer to add 14 votes to its total vote as claimed by the NPP?. All these are possibilities that could arise out of the scenario at hand. Logically, it does not sound reasonable that a political party could influence someone to just add 14 votes to its total votes.

The court in unraveling the truth about the over voting will have to consider all this possibilities and if possible asked for recount of the votes at all the affected polling stations. It is therefore unfair on the part of the NPP to asked that the results should be nullified and again has gone ahead to assure all its supporter that the Supreme Court is DEFINITELY going to do what they have asked for. Also, the NPP has failed to show how the 1st and 2nd Respondents actively connive to influence the 14 votes at the said polling station. The possible outcome here could be the case being thrown out because there is no linkage between the polling station and the Respondents or that the ballots to be recounted which I pray for. As we speak, the one who benefited from the 14 is not certain since it could be either of them or none of them and that becomes a contentious issue which the court need to determine.

IRRAGULARITY 2: VOTING WITHOUT BIOMETRIC VERIFICATION.
It is amazing how NPP legal team failed to appreciate the decision on land mark case: Apaloo vrs EC. The decision in the above case cures the argument of no verification no vote, where by unanimous decision the Supreme Court held that no law could disenfranchise any voter who present him/herself to vote. Indeed, the principle of Universal Adult Suffrage as found in the preamble of the constitution is an entrenched provision. Also by the combined effect of Article 21(3), 42 and 55(2) the right to vote is inalienable right which cannot be taken away by any one.
Article 1(2) expressly provides that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.
Obviously, the CI 75 could not disenfranchise a voter who has taken reasonable steps to actualize his/her accrued right. Apaloo vrs EC has a direct cogent on the situation at hand. In the said case Regulation 30 of the CI 15 indicated that “ No photo ID card no vote”. The plaintiff brought action against the EC that the No photo ID card infringes on his right as non-photo ID card holder to vote. The court by referring to the above mentioned provisions of the Constitution and declared the Regulation 30 of the CI 15 null and void on the grounds that the said Regulation is inconsistent with the Constitution.
Again, columnC3 on the Pink sheet reads “ WHAT IS THE NUMBER OF BALLOTS ISSUED TO VOTERS VERIFIED BY THE USE OF FORM 1C (BUT NOT BY THE USE OF BVD). The form 1C is the photo album. Ladies and gentlemen, what does this Colum on the pink sheet tells us? The logical conclusion here is that the EC anticipated that some voters would not be identified by the BVD and therefore could be identified by the use of the photo album.
The argument of the NPP that others elsewhere were not allowed to vote because the BVD could not identify them cannot fly. The fact that some people could not defend their constitutional right does not mean that those who were able to do so should lose their votes to equate the former.
Again, it’s obvious that at those affected polling stations all the various polling agents agreed to allow those who cannot be identify by the use of BVD but have been identified by the use of the photo album to vote. And no political party can be said to have been disadvantaged at this point. Indeed, by the pink sheet exhibited by Dr. Bawumia NDC had 265 and NPP had 255 so where is the connivance between the respondents.
The funniest angle to this argument is that, those who were not identified by the use of the BVD which has occasioned this legal tussle voted in both the presidential and parliament but the NPP finds nothing wrong with the parliamentary results but has rejected the presidential. What an inconsistence stand. Indeed the sample of the pink sheet exhibited by Dr. Bawumia is a polling station at Hon. Boniface’s constituency.
Once again, NPP has failed to show how the 1st and the 2nd Respondent connived to rig the election.
My expectation here is that the court may rely on the decision of Apaloo v EC.


IRREGULARITY 3: NO SIGNATURE OF THE PRESIDING OFFICERS:
I am handicap on the position of the law regarding the legal effect of a signature of presiding officers, but as usual NPP has failed to show the role played by the 1st and the 2nd respondent to connive to rig the election or how the 1st Respondent has benefited from the non-signing of the presiding officers. One can also argue that the NPP could have a hand in this irregularity by influencing the Presiding Officer not to sign so that they can call on the court to nullify the results as they have done. Others have also argued that in the presidential election the EC boss is the only presiding officer and its only his signature that validates the results.
My expectation here is that the Supreme Court may consider the position of the law and make a decision or struck out the claim since the irregularity cannot be blamed on the Respondents.

IRREGULARITY 4: DUPLIACATE OF SERIAL NUMBERS.
Dr. Bawumia exhibited two separate pink sheets with the same serial number printed on them which obviously, the EC may have to answer. However, the separate pink sheets with the same serial number were used at different polling station with the Centre name and polling station number well written on them and i cannot see how that could inure to the advantage of any particular party. I leave this to the judgment of the Supreme Court but again can’t see how the 1st and the 2nd Respondent could connive to rig the election with the same serial number but used at different polling station.

IRREGULARITY 5: WORDS AND FIGURE MISMACTH.
Once again no evidence was adduced on this irregularity and cannot comment much, but as usual I cannot imagine how this could benefit any particular party. By the explanation of the author, for example if 250 is recorded at the figure column but in the words column it is written as ‘four hundred’ instead of ‘two hundred and fifty’. My understanding here is that when the figures are being collated it’s the figure that is used and not the figure in words provided the summation of the figure matches with what is recorded.
The possibility here is that: it could be a genuine mistake or NPP could have a hand in it so as to do what they have done or the NDC indeed influence the presiding officers to do that.
The good news here is that the court may order for the recount of the ballot papers which I am praying that it should be so.

The next important point to consider is the role played by the polling agents. Assuming without admitting that these allegations are true, the question is why the polling agents of NPP appended their signatures to all this irregularities knowing very well that they are not acceptable. Could the Respondents be blamed for the inefficiency of the polling agents?

The CI 75 expressly allows all political parties to appoint polling station agents and in fact the agent controls the polling station with the support of the presiding officers and the security personnel. This explains why a polling agent can challenge anyone he/she finds to be an imposter. Anyone who has ever been at a polling station can testify to the fact that it’s absolutely impossible for anyone to alter figures at that level.
Initially when the NPP raised the alarm of irregularities, we were made to believe that it was done at the collation centers and at the point of faxing to the strong room. Little do we know that the blue sheet would metamorphosis to pink sheet? Thank God that the issue of DSL where NPP foot soldiers nearly raze down is not part of the irregularity identified by them.

I am also using this medium to appeal to the Petitioners that they should moderate the expectations of their followers and not to believe that at all cost the court will overturn the outcome of the election. In my honest opinion, unless NPP adduce other evidence, I do not see the evidence adduced so far to be convincing enough to overturn the declaration of EC boss since the gravamen of their case is that the 1st and 2nd Respondent have actively connive to influence the election. More so, they have not been able to show how the Respondents actually connive to perpetuate the crime.
The evidence adduced by NPP so far appears to be administrative error which has genuinely occur on the part of the presiding officer and the various polling agents which cannot be said to have benefited any particular political party. Indeed, per the NPP’s petition out of 1.3 million votes,HE. Mahama obtained 900 while Nana Akufo Addo obtained 300 so how could NPP alleged that NDC is the beneficial of the irregularities.

Fellow, well-wishing Ghanaians, its hard time we hold the bull by the horn and tell NPP that enough is enough, we prefer to leave poor and in peace than to be refuges in others countries.
As, we patiently wait for the all-important legal tussle let’s say a word of prayer for mother Ghana and urge all Ghanaians to check Dr. Bawumia’s presentation on myjoyonline.

In conclusion, I say sorry NPP and Nana Akuffo Addo your evidence exonerate the NDC of vote rigging rather than implicating them.

APPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.

Paul Parker Atitsogbui

Atitsogbui@yahoo.com