The Battle Is Ended

ghana-supreme-courtAt long last, the battle of evidence of the litigants in the ongoing 2012 presidential election petition hearing at the Supreme Court ended yesterday.

The hearings began on April 16, preceded by the file of document in December, last year. Lead counsel for the petitioners, Philip Addison, ended his cross-examination yesterday, Day-13 of 46 days of hearing.

He grilled the key witness of the respondents, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, who is also the chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC). The parties, the bar and the bench heaved sighs of relief when Mr. Addison informed the court, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, that he had brought his cross-examination to an end.

The court directed the parties to file their written addresses simultaneously by Wednesday, July 31, for further directives.
Lead counsel for both the petitioners and the respondents lauded the nine-member panel for indulging them and Justice Atuguba, on behalf of the bench, appreciated their co-operation.

On the last day of cross-examination of Mr. Addison, the authenticity of pink sheets used by the petitioners to cross-examine Witness was brought to the fore by the respondents, resulting in the use of unsavory language, as tempers flared.
The situation prompted a member of the panel, Justice Jones Dotse, to express the bench’s displeasure at the attitude of the lead counsel of both parties.

He noted that after the hearings, they would continue to be learned friends and should not go contrary to their professional ethnics thus, hence, they should show decorum to the highest court of the land.
Justice Dotse asked them to set standards that would compel their supporters at the grassroots to emulate and desist from using language that would send wrong signals to them.

Another member of the panel, Justice Sophia Adinyira, pointed out  the need for some seriousness in the courtroom.
Justice Atuguba declared “if the bench allows insults  then we will be heading towards another KPMG report.”
When Dr. Afari-Gyan was finally discharged ,was laughter in the courtroom, when Justice Atuguba congratulated him for his endurance and told him that it was not an easy thing to tell people to go to court.

“You have now realized that telling people to go to court is not an easy thing to do,” he said.
It all began when Mr. Addison showed Witness a set of pink sheets allegedly containing irregularities  which James Quarshie-Idun objected to and indicated that they were not embossed with the Commissioner of Oath’s stamp.
Mr. Addison said the petitioners had no intention of tendering them, but wanted to demonstrate that the pink sheets used by the witness’ counsel to cross-examine him were false.

Tony Lithur, counsel for President John Mahama associated himself with the submissions of Mr. Quarshie-Idun but Justice Rose Owusu, a member of the panel said the earlier ruling by the court did not exclude pink sheets without a Commissioner of Oath’s stamp.
When Mr. Addison insisted that the pink sheets were authentic, since it they were the KPMG report, Mr. Lithur submitted that the court should not allow the petitioners to proceed on pink sheets without an official stamp, but use the duplicate ones, filed in evidence.

This brought Tsatsu Tsikata, counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to his feet and he suggested that it was a manufactured pink sheet and that there was no way of knowing whether it was in the KPMG report, because the report did not have serial numbers.
He argued that it was possible to use computer technology to fabricate pink sheets.

Mr. Addison rebutted and expressed misgiving over the use of words of Mr. Tsikata and the bench intervened for proceedings to continue.
Disagreements arose between the petitioners and the respondents, when Mr. Tsikata sought leave of the court to re-examine Dr. Afari-Gyan, when the petitioner ended their cross-examination.

Mr. Tsikata wanted to deal with pink sheets in the KPMG report, but Mr. Addison asked him to limit himself to the pink sheets, and not the report. But Mr. Tsikata insisted that he was using the report to advance his case, and he would only use pink sheets, if the petitioners presented him with some.

The court disallowed his question on the ground that the issue had already been settled by the EC.
During the cross-examination of Witness by Mr. Addison, issues cross over pink sheets having the same polling stations name and code, but different serial numbers but Witness explained that there were other differences too.

At certain stages of the cross-examination, Mr. Addison suggested to Witness that pink sheets of the petitioners were different from those of the EC, due to different names which he admitted, but insisted that the serial numbers were the same.
Mr. Quarshie-Idun objected and said there should be proper marking on the pink sheets to show clearly those that belonged to the EC.
Mr. Lithur raised questions on the authenticity of the document which also prompted Mr. Tsikata to suggest to the court that the documents had been doctored to show a difference in the EC’s.

He said the pink sheets of the petitioners were irrelevant, since they were not embossed with the Commissioner of Oath’s stamp.
Mr. Addison contended that counsel for the EC introduced pink sheets with different serial numbers and the petitioners were challenging it to prove that they were strange, because they had no copies in their exhibits filed at the court.
He insisted that the respondents had never complained about lack of a Commissioner of Oath’s stamp on the EC’s pink sheets and wondered why counsel for the NDC was challenging the petitioners’ pink sheets now.

Mr. Addison drew the court’s attention to the fact that three of the exhibits were already in evidence and only one was not.
The court ruled that the petitioners were limited to asking questions related to matters on their pleadings.
The court also over-ruled an objection by the respondents and cautioned Mr. Addison to stay within the earlier parametres of the court.
When Mr. Tsikata exchanged opinions with Justice Rose Owusu on the authenticity of the pink sheets used by the petitioners, Justice Atuguba intervened and advised him to include those matters in his address to the court.

Mr. Addison argued that the respondents had tried to discredit the third exhibit so as to undermine the petitioners case of triplicate, but Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, a member of the panel indicated that he was confused because the petitioners had given out a polling station code to the respondents, and  brought a pink sheet with the same code, but a different serial number.

In response, Mr. Addison explained that the code was more important than the name because the name, when written, could sometimes be abbreviated, however, the official name existed.
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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