Court Reacts To Comments By ‘Sir John’, One Other

JUSTICE  WILLIAM  ATUGUBA (5)The Supreme Court has called for an audio recording of someone purported to be threatening to cut the heads of supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), if the on-going 2012 presidential election petition does not go in favour of the petitioners.

It also cited a front page story in The Enquirer newspaper relating to the General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwadwo Owusu Afriye, popularly known as ‘Sir John’.

The Bench at its resumed hearing yesterday, expressed misgivings over the two contemptuous news items and indicated  they would advise themselves, accordingly.

Describing the statements attributed to the two persons as contemptuous, Justice William Atuguba, the Presiding Judge of the nine-member panel referred to the publication in The Enquirer newspaper relating to Mr. Afriyie and said “if we take action and others are being provocative and we don’t act, it will look lopsided.

We have called for the tape and the person who talked about cutting of heads would be dealt with accordingly.”
He said it was not a pleasant thing to be summoning people but they had been left with no choice and added that the implications of not fulfilling that duty of summons could be grave.

Subsequent to the initial sanctions taken, he warned that even though there had been some moderation, there were more terrible things yet to be unravelled.

Justice Atuguba indicated that some of the publications were contemptuous and cited the audio and The Enquirer newspaper and said “in the course of time, we shall deal with that.”
He said there was nothing to gain in championing extremist ideas of the right to free speech, and cautioned that the limitations were there, but the public were of the view that it must be sustained without upholding those limitations.

After the court had made its intention clear on the summons, another disagreement arose between the petitioners and the respondents over the use of copies of pink sheets in the custody of the court, and with the Registrar.

While the petitioners insisted they had requested for the pink sheets in the custody of the Registrar, the respondents held the view that the exhibits presented by the petitioners had been forged to correspond with the KPMG report.

The respondents also wanted their fears to be allayed, as to whether all the pink sheets in the custody of the court were now being sought by the petitioners, to cross-examine the key witness of the second respondent, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC).

The disagreement was not pleasant to the Bench, which prompted Justice Sule Gbadegbe, a member of the panel, to intervene and advised the parties to bring such disagreements over the pink sheets to a close.

He said the impression was being created that the court was delaying the proceedings, but it was not and expressed concern over the parties’ drawing the court backwards, impeding  the flow in the cross examination of the petitioners.

At that stage, Justice Atuguba directed Mr. Addison to hand over all pink sheets they intended to use in cross-examination of the witness to the respondents for their perusal, in avoidance of doubt.

When the petitioners wanted to peruse the document containing 905 unsigned pink sheets by presiding officers, Justice Gbadegbe pointed out that the court could not wait for them to do that before them since they could tender them, and later raise concerns. But Mr. Addison expressed worry about the situation.

His worry stemmed from the fact that the EC had not clearly defined the list of 905 polling stations, but what the EC had done was to provide information they claimed were not important.The disagreement continued until recess.

The document was reluctantly tendered in evidence, after recess for Day 8 of Mr. Addison’s cross-examination to proceed. During the cross-examination, witness confirmed that the sets of pink sheets presented to him had same serial numbers.

When it was suggested to him  that the pink sheets were not in a category, but had other violations apart from duplicated serial numbers, he replied he was not in a position to confirm.

When Justice Jones Dotse, a member of the  panel, sought clarity on the implications on the different serial numbers, Mr. Addison affirmed that they were generated from the KPMG report, and quoted relevant portions to buttress his assertion.

Mr. Addison suggested to Witness that other documents had been super imposed on some pink sheets, but he could not give a definite answer.

When lead counsel for the petitioners insisted that there were several pink sheets in that similar situation, the witness indicated that it could be possible. Witness said it was possible to have different results, but with the same serial number.

At a stage of the cross-examination, a member of the panel, Justice Sophia Adinyira raised concern over disagreements between the parties over the exhibits and wondered why they could not agree on simple issues, but decided to waste the court’s time.

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 other members 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 Tamakloe

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