Tsatsu Tsikata, lead counsel of the third respondent enters Day Seven of his cross examination of the second petitioner in a substantive hearing of the Presidential Election Petition which is in its fourteenth day.
Dr Bawumia is in the witness box; the judges on the bench; All other counsel are seated, Tsikata is up and ready to begin his cross examination.
He tenders a set of of pink sheet exhibits in which he challenges the claim by the petitioners that the polling stations in question were not signed by the presiding officer. He quotes paragraph 48 of the petitioners affidavits where 20 polling stations were alleged to have suffered the deficit of malpractices and irregularities.
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia admits that on the face of these pink sheets there are signatures of the presiding officer but says that they have since been reclassified into the category of over-voting and same serial number and not the category of no signature by presiding officer as initially classified.
Signature or mark
On MBQ 669 of the pink sheet exhibit, Bawumia maintains there is no signature. He says he sees a “mark” with no name, no date, no time and cannot therefore classify it as a signature.
Tsatsu Tsikata says that is a signature because it is located at the signature column. Bawumia retorts, saying he doesn’t see it that way. It is only a “mark” and cannot identify it as a signature.
Tsikata tenders another set of pink sheet exhibits and asks witness if he sees a name and a date and time entered by the presiding officer.
Bawumia says there is a name, time, but no signature.
Philip Addison is up. He says Tsikata is disrespecting the bench’s query which debars him from asking the same composite question on each pink sheet exhibit he has tendered. He says Tsikata can ask one question to cover the pink sheet exhibits he has tendered instead of asking the same question over and over again on each and every pink sheet.
Tsikata says he each pink sheet has a separate challenge and must therefore be allowed to ask his question on each of them. He says the petitioners have made the absence of the presiding officer’s signature a part of their case and are saying the absence of a signature is enough basis to invalidate legitimate votes cast. That claim is legally valid, he admits but says they have to assess specific facts before reaching a legal conclusion about the absence of a signature. He continues with the cross examination and asks witness to identify whether each pink sheet exhibit has signatures. He also asks witness to mention the times written on the pink sheets. Bawumia obliges and mentions the times.
Tsikata tenders another set of exhibits. Addison accuses Tsikata of wasting the court’s time. He says the opposite counsel has repeated the same questions but has not drawn the conclusion he sought to, in his preamble.
On this 21 list of pink sheet exhibits, Tsikata asks witness to confirm if he can see the names of the presiding officer. Bawumia confirms there is a name but no signature or time.
Tsikata asks witness if the petitioners are claiming that the presiding officers were not present at the polling station.
Bawumia says that is not their claim. Their claim is, as the law requires, the pink sheet must be signed.
Tsikata in a sarcastic way asks witness to educate him on the law, since he is obsessed with the law.
Bawumia says his law is limited but the little he knows is that the presiding officer must sign the the pink sheet before transferring it to the collation centre and if he doesn’t, the law requires that the votes be invalidated.
Tsikata asks witness if he is aware that in some of the polling stations the NPP polling agents did not sign the pink sheets.
Bawumia admits that some polling agents did not sign but was quick to add that their signatures were not as mandatory as that of the presiding officer.
Tsikata tenders another set of pink sheet exhibits and asks the witness if it was not signed by their polling agent. Bawumia admits they were not signed. He adds that their emphasis was not on their polling agents. They don’t have to be there anyway. Our emphasis is on the absence of the signature of the presiding officer, he adds.
Tsikata selects another pink sheet which has been signed by the polling agent and asks if he can confirm that.
Malpractice or Curiousity
Bawumia confirms and says on that pink sheet there were only two polling agents- NDC, NPP. He says the NDC polling agent in his column wrote “accepted, good” but the NPP polling agent wrote “accepted”. Bawumia says curiously both have been written in the same handwriting.
Tsikata asks witness if same handwriting is a form of malpractice. Bawumia retorts and says it is only “curiosity.”
Telecast of declaration
Tsikata asks witness if he is aware that TV stations and radio stations covered the declarations made at the collation centre during the elections 2012. He says the declaration made were public and everybody saw the results that were churned out.
Bawumia says he is aware TV and radio stations covered some declarations but adds the coverage was only limited. He said in many of these collation regions there was no electricity let alone to talk about radio and TV coverage. He says they are emphasising on the results on the face of the pinks sheets and the declaration made by the chairman of the second respondent and not declarations made on TV and on radios.
Same serial number
Tsikata cites Paragraph 56 of the petitioners affidavits Tsikata and makes reference to the irregularity of same serial numbers. He says the petitioners alleged that in 6,823 polling stations there were exclusive instances of same serial numbers. He says the petitioners did not supply pink sheets of the same number to back their allegation. He further alleges that it is this category that the petitioners deliberately duplicated and triplicated their exhibits to create the impression that they have submitted 11, 138 pink sheets. He says the petitioners have only supplied 7,092 and not 11000 polling stations as they claim. He accuses petitioners of padding exhibits to deceive the court. He applies for a count of the affidavits and polling station pink sheets exhibits submitted by the petitioners.
Bawumia says it is the category of same serial number that had the worst case of irregularity. He says about 70 per cent of over-voting occurred on same serial numbers; about 80 per cent of voting without verification occurred on duplicate serial numbers. He says duplicate serial numbers was the vehicle used in committing the many malpractices in the 2012 elections. He says they supplied to the court 11,842 polling station pink sheets.
Addison raises an objection and says if it were the case that the respondents received far less of the pink sheet exhibits they ought to have raised it with the registry. He says it is too late in the day to say that the number of exhibits fell short of what is being alleged by the petitioners.
Counsel for the first respondent, Tony Lithur is up on his feet. He says his witness Johnson Asiedu Nketia has deposed in his affidavits that the number of pink sheet exhibits received is far less than what has been alleged and so Addison should not create the impression that they did not raise the issue about shortfalls in numbers.
Counsel for the second respondent James Quarshie-Idun says auditing of the figures is in the interest of all the parties.
Presiding Judge Atuguba hints of early break to have them rule on the matter. He asks Addison if he is objecting to the application by the third respondent for an audit of the figures.
Addison says it can even be done now but asks that Tsikata must be made to tell the court how many of the exhibits are in his possession.
Tsikata says it is crucial to his cross examination that he holds on to the figure. He adds that his duty is to challenge the credibility of the witness and holding to his chest that figure is important. He says he has checked with the registry and can be sure that they the respondent received all the exhibits supplied to the registry by the petitioners and cannot therefore be the case that the registry.
One of the judges quickly checks the total number of the petitioners’ affidavits and confirms that the figure is 11,842.
Addison is on his feet.He says the respondents have waived their rights to an audit because they ought to have insisted on the counting of the exhibits before even proceeding with the cross examination. He does not understand why at the tail end of his cross examination, Tsikata will now be requesting for an audit. He says now that it has been established that on their affidavits it is 11842 that should be enough.
Presiding Judge Atuguba intervenes. He says the issue about auditing of the figure came up at the initial stage of the cross examination but the bench decided to defer it. He says however that the court will go on recess and will return to rule on whether there has to be a count of the exhibits the petitioners issued to the registry and and subsequently received by the respondents.
Court rules in favour of Tsatsu and orders for an independent count by KPMG accounting firm. He says each party is free to bring two observers to the count.
Tsatsu shows Exhibit MBP 004891 to Dr. Bawumia. It is respect of parliamentary election he asks. Bawumia confirms it is and that it should not appear in court. Nonetheless, he would have to verify from his data.
The same of the polling station code has appeared on another pink sheet,Tsatsu says.But Bawumia says despite appearing twice it was used once in the analysis.
Tsatsu shows Bawumia exhibits with serial numbers in the MBP series of pink sheets. The serial numbers are from the same polling stations despite being different exhibits.
He shows him two pink sheets that goes round the table for inspection.
Bawumia confirms they are of the same polling station – Methodist Primary School.
Tsatsu alleges that Bawumia has counted the pink sheet twice. Bawumia responds that it is a case of mislabelling but it was not used more than once in his analysis.
Tsatsu show the witness exhibits with the same polling stations that have been counted twice in paragraph 57.
“There is no way it will be used in the analysis more than once”, witness says. He calls it another case of mislabeling.
He describes subsequent pink sheets shown to him in the category of mislabeling used once in the analysis.
Another set of pink sheets makes the usual round.
Exhibit Q in front of Bawumia has no signature and Exhibit P numbered 00495 has a duplicated serial number. Tsatsu shows him exhibits MBP 004579 and MBQ 752 that are from the same polling station.
Bawumia responds that the explanation is in the further and better particulars.
Court adjourns to Monday, 13th 2013 at 9:30am.
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