Counsels Argue Over Pink Sheets Again

pink sheetsDisagreement over relabelling of pink sheets between the petitioners and the respondents, took the centre stage at the ongoing 2012 presidential election petition hearing yesterday. The respondents had claimed the petitioners wanted to introduce a new category of pink sheets which did not tally with those contained in the KPMG report.

However, the petitioners debunked the assertion that they had generated new pink sheets, saying the pink sheets submitted for cross-examination of the key witness of the second respondent came with the corresponding labelling of the KPMG report.

It all started when lead counsel for the petitioners, Philip Addison, attempted to tender in evidence the list of seven pink sheets for the perusal of the witness, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), but the EC’s counsel, James Quarshie-Idun protested.

He said the new list of seven did not tally with the contents of the KPMG report, and they had duly alerted the petitioners on that.
The situation compelled Tony Lithur, counsel for President John Mahama, and Tsatsu Tsikata counsel for the NDC, to also rise and vehemently protest.

Mr. Lithur said it would be prejudicial for Mr. Addison to ask questions on those pink sheets.
He argued that the respondents had concluded their cross-examination and had begun writing their addresses based on 24 exclusive categories of irregularities, and, therefore, any change in the labelling and categories would  affect the hearing.
According to Mr. Tsikata, the respondents had no idea when those pink sheets were generated.

“We have evidence that additional pink sheets have been introduced, an evidence which has not been challenged and we cannot have a situation where newly generated pink sheets will be introduced.”
Justice Rose Owusu, a member of the nine-member panel, intervened and informed Mr. Tsikata that it was the polling stations that mattered and not the exhibit numbers.

He added that if the polling station could clearly be identified and had exhibit numbers mixed up, it should be accepted.
Mr. Tsikata disagreed and argued that it did not lie with anybody, not even the bench, to reconstruct the case for the petitioners.
“The petitioners have categorized their allegations into 24, but it appears a new category has been introduced,” he said.

Mr. Tsikata contended that the pink sheet labeled MBG which the petitioners were threatening to cross-examine the witness on, was in the KPMG report as MBF and described the situation as unacceptable.

He indicated that the respondents would fiercely resist any attempts by the petitioners to re-able their exhibits.
Justice Owusu intervened again and said she remembered the key witness of the petitioners, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the second petitioner, indicating that the petitioners had challenges with the labelling so they had to relabel some of the categories.

Mr. Tsikata rose again and insisted that the petitioners had stated that they were dealing with 24 exclusive categories of irregularities, and that if for any reason they had challenges, they had the opportunity for amendments, but they could not introduce categories alien to the respondents.

The situation prompted Mr. Lithur to rise again, citing the difficulty the respondents would have in cross-examining the witness on pink sheets differently labeled and which had not been captured in the KPMG report.

Mr. Addison again rose and rebutted the claim that the petitioners had not generated new pink sheets for cross-examination saying each of those submitted were corresponding to the labeling in the KPMG report.
When some of the judges disagreed with him and said his arguments could result in over voting, Mr. Addison disagreed and indicated that they would appreciate it better in a form of subsets since they overlapped. The nine-member panel, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, over ruled the objection. Earlier, Mr. Addison had on Day Seven of his cross-examination of Dr. Afari-Gyan, showed him 905 unsigned polling station pink sheets.

He confirmed that the pink sheets had not been signed by presiding officers. Mr. Addison handed the witness another list of 179 polling station pink sheets which were not included in the list of 905 which witness again confirmed had not been signed.

When Mr. Addison handed over another set of pink sheets which related to duplicate serial numbers without signatures of the presiding members, witness conceded that they had not been signed. Some members of the bench again disagreed with the line of cross-examination by Mr. Addison, but he explained that it was not the fault of the petitioners because the witness was given three weeks to produce the document but he did not.

The witness was given a total of 352 polling station pink sheets to confirm whether they were signed or not he admitted only three had been signed by the presiding officers.

The respondents at certain stages of the cross-examination, raised objections about the cancellation of some of the documents, but Mr. Addison said he was surprised at the objection being raised because the petitioners had made the respondents aware of the cancellation.
He said the witness had confirmed that those cancellations had not be signed by presiding officers.

His answer was not acceptable to the respondents, and Mr. Lithur said there was the need for thorough cross checking to ascertain the number of pink sheets with cancellations.

Justice Sule Gbadegbe, a member of the panel, intervened and objected to the cross-checking for lack of time, saying that should be left for the court to decide.

Another set of 23 polling station pink sheets was provided to the witness for his perusal, and he conceded they had not been signed.
Justice Baffoe-Bonnie again disagreed with Mr. Addison’s line of cross-examination, but he insisted that the witness had told the court that 905 pink sheets had not been signed by the presiding officers, and he wanted to prove to the court that they were more 905.

Asked by the bench when he would conclude his cross-examination, Mr. Addison said due to some disagreements on the pink sheets leading  to the withdrawal of some of them, he would have to continue on Monday. The court accordingly adjourned the case to Monday, July, 8 for hearing to continue.

The petitioners, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, his running mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, are challenging the result of the 2012 presidential elections in which the Electoral Commission (EC) declared President John Mahama the winner.

They are contending that gross and widespread irregularities took place in the 11,916 polling stations. The petitioners are, therefore, calling for the annulment of 4,670,504 votes cast in the 11,916 polling stations.

But, President Mahama, the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) first, second and third respondents respectively, have denied any wrongdoing, and are of the view that the polls were free, fair and transparent and for that reason the results were credible and accurate.

The nine-member panel of judges hearing the case is presided over by Justice William Atugubah. The rest are Justices Julius Ansah, Mrs.  Sophia Adinyira, Ms. Rose Owusu, Jones Dotse, Annin Yeboah, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie,  N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Vida Akoto-Bamfo. – Winston

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