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Live text: Election Petition: Justices quiz lawyers on final day of hearing


Live text: Election Petition: Justices quiz lawyers on final day of hearing

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The Justices of the Supreme Court have begun seeking clarification from counsel for petitioners and respondents, as the court winds up hearing of the petition challenging the election of president John Dramani Mahama.

President Judge justice William Atuguba wants to understand how the petitioners recategorised some of the exhibits submitted to the court.

Addison explains the number of polling stations the petitioner’s are relying on.

He says they began with 11, 802 set out in the Further and Better particulars. They have deleted 704 voluntarily down to 10,119 polling stations.

The criteria for including is that it should captured in the f&b particulars, captured in the KPMG report or used by the respondents or it should not be part of the 704 deleted. He says in the anaylsis each polling station was used once.

He gives a breakdown of the polling stations used

7,999 unique pink sheets from the registrars set

960 unique polling stations recovered from what KPMG rejected

804 from the presidents set

60 remarks recovered from the president set that used unclear to KPMG

566 used by the Respondents

A polling station may be moved from over-voting category to no signature of presiding officer category. It didn’t involve the introduction of new polling stations. They re-categorised 150 polling stations. The vote of re-categorised polling station is 60,115.

He explains how many pink sheets were deleted in over voting category. It is 83

A Justice wants to know what the Respondent mean when they refer to the Respondent’s “preferred data set”. He cites pages in the their address in volume 2b which has a table of duplicate polling station codes. He says respondent explained that there were duplicate polling station codes because some was used for special voting and also others used to split a large polling station into A & B.

Justice is trying to get clarity on Addison's over-voting definition. He wants to know why petitioners are claiming overvoting merely because C1 on the pink sheet is blank.

Justice Atuguba asks Quarshie-Idun about the statutory consequences of electoral irregularities that he alone identified in his address. He wants Idun to read it out. He states that it is about the ROPAL which provides that a high court hearing an election petition will uphold an election conducted in accordance with the provisions of ROPAL.

A judge tells him that the high court is referring to parliamentary elections not presidential. But Atuguba clarifies that it can also refer to presidential elections.

Tony Lithur turn to take a question from Atuguba. The judge wants to know why Lithur says the failure to go through biometric verification does not go with any dire consequences. Atuguba says he doe not understand the sentence used to explain this position.

Lithur says biometric verification is a process of capturing biometric data which involves his picture. The purpose is to identify if a person is eligible now once the process of registration is done then his right to vote is activated. So even if his finger print cannot be identified and his face can then there is discretionary power to allow them to vote. He adds that finger-print verification is not the only form of verification.

He says for the petitioners to say that since their finger print was not verified then it means people voted without biometric verification is false.

But a judge explains that Face Only recognition is for face only voters whose finger-prints are not captured but if a voter's finger prints has been captured then you need to move beyond FACE ONLY identification to finger print verification

Atuguba to Tsikata:

Atuguba wants clarity on the question of the principle of annulling election results and says the Appiah V Attorney Gen quoted by the third Respondent was partly evenly balanced but also appeared ambiguous in relation to the petition at hand.

Tsikata says the case is when Edward Akuffo-Addo's presidency was challenged by Joe Appiah. The basis was that certain regulations had not been complied with. Regulations that were not applicable were used. Justice Crabbe who was the acting EC was not consulted. The court of Appeal determined that on the evidence that was brought before the court, the electoral process had taken place. The court recognised that not only were there votes counted the court said even if the advice of Justice was consulted, it did not in any way affect the conduct of the election.

Atuguba to Tsikata on Retroactive application of the law and invalidation of the results;

Tsatsu says it was his submission that Article 49 should not by any stretch of imaginaton lead to the annulment of votes. There is a duty on both the party agent and presiding officer to sign. If in the discharge of the public duty, the parties do not dispatch their duties, it does not mean that votes be annulled. There is a frowning of penalizing people retroactively. You cannot seek to penalize the presiding officer if there is no specific law mandating so, much less to seek to penalize the voter who had no role to play in the presiding officer's failure to uphold the law.

Idun is up to points out regulations in C.1 72 which says the biometric should capture ten finger prints, and photograph. He means biometric verification includes photo and finger prints.

He adds that a cancelled pink sheet of Finger of God church has found its way into the Petitioner’s address.

A judge says he did not use his 30 minutes address to point out this ‘anomaly’. He dwells on the duties of a presiding officer at a polling station. He asks column A & D are supposed to be filled before the voting starts and after counting another column is filled in. he wants to know if there is any entry for the presiding officer to sign before declaration. Idun says they sing only after declaration.

Justice Atuguba says Addison insists there is no mixed up in their exhibits which Tsatsu disagrees. Tsatsu explains that the confusion has not been addressed, he says in 2120 polling stations, 1060 have same exhibit numbers but different polling stations so it is difficult to know which polling station is being talked about.

He says the Petitioners could have clarified this confusion much earlier in the hearing.

Atuguba to Quarshie Idun: You alone identified provision on the statutory consequence of electoral irregularity but its construction has not been well explained. He asks Quarshie-Idun to read aloud Paragraph 7 on page 3 of the address and bring clarity on the matter.

Idun reads it out and explains that in the ROPAL Act the high court is empowered to dismiss claims of irregularity if certain conditions are not satisfied. A lady judge says that provision in the Act deals with only parliamentary election. She says CI 75 is the regulation made for presidential elections and suggests it should be the focus of his case.

But Idun says the definition of elections in the ROPAL Act is not limited to parliamentary but also presidential. Idun does not think a C.1 can make modification to an Act. Atuguba says if the Act permits it, then it is possible.

Court resumes after a short break.

Contempt charge

NPP General Secretary Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie is called into the dock. He is represented by his lawyer Ayikoi Otoo. Otoo says they are not in to justify anything at all. They have fully read the summons and are aware fully that the Supreme Court has power so to do to invite people for contempt. They are also aware that that power may exercised arbitrarily and are therefore appealing to the bench to show remorse. They apologise unreservedly for the comments made. He says Afriyie has sought to purge himself of the contempt charge by issue guidelines to all NPP followers not ridicule or insult the judges. Ayikoi Otoo reads portions of the guidelines to the bench. He has gone round talking to communicators. The airwaves have become very calm. The early days of fire and brimstone on the airwaves has been sanitized. Otoo says Afriyie speaks impeccable Twi and all that he said which was found to be contemptuous were said in Twi, but the interpretation may have also worsened the case.

Atuguba asks Otoo if he wants the tape to be played because it is available.

Otoo pleads that that will not be necessary. He says custodial sentence may not augur well for the peace that everybody seeks. Otoo says the contempt charge is not to show that you have judicial powers and want to exercise it; but it is because you want to bring sanity; He begs the panel to let Sir John go and sin no more.

One of the judges asks if lawyer Otoo has asked the client what power went into him in the studio for him to have uttered those words.

Otoo says the power of "Gbeshie" may have entered him but that is no justification at all.

The judge goes ahead to reprimand Sir John for the comments made. He says given his status as a lawyer he ought to have known better. He is equally disappointed with the NPP leadership for not condemning the comments.

Atuguba intervenes his voice loud. He says Politicians think they can dribble everybody and go away with it. We can issue custodial sentence and nobody can challenge us. He says people have died through elections only because of peoples bigotry, stronger than the state attitude and it is about time every body is cut to size. Atuguba appears flaring up. Otoo attempts to calm him down saying he should watch his blood pressure because with age, one should not allow anger to take a better part of him.

Atuguba says he knows himself well enough. He says the casual manner in which Afriyie mounted the dock does not even show a person who is remorse. He says the state cannot become anaemic because somebody of like this. His utterance can run down the Supreme Court. He thinks the state of Ghana must bow to him. He says there is no sincerity in Ghana's political landscape because a lot of people are engaged in illegal political galamsey.

He has seen his size today, Otoo remarks pointing to Sir John.

Atuguba asks Sir John to move out of the dock and stand behind the lawyers. The second contemnor, Hopeson Adorye is invited to the dock. Ayikoi Otoo still stands as lawyer for Adorye.

Ayikoi Otoo says today is his birthday; he is 59 today and the only birthday gift the judges can give is to free these two.

Atuguba says they have taken a chunk of the mitigation plea and will take that into consideration.

Judges rise for a short period; Atuguba demands that the two remain standing.


Atuguba says before he reads the sentences to the two, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie must say something. We have to take your temperature level before we give our sentence, he says, smiling. Sir John says he is hugely humbled by what has happened.

Atuguba reads the sentence. He says Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie has been found guilty of intentional contempt but considering his admission of guilt and the prevailing mitigation efforts by the peace council and the plea of mitigation by counsel, Ayikoi Otoo, they have reluctantly constrained on imposing a custodial sentence on the contemnor. We however cannot over look the fact that he his a lawyer of 32 years standing and general secretary of a political party. He has therefore been a fined an amount of 5,000 cedis or in default be jailed for six months. He should also sign a bond of good behaviour and must retract and apologise within 24 hours on the platform on which he made the contempt charges.

For Adorye considering the fact that he is layman he has been fined 2,000 or in default be jailed three months. He should also sign a bond of good behavior and retract and apologise accordingly.

Atuguba adjourns proceedings to August 29 to give judgement on the Presidential Election Petition.

From: Myjoyonline.com



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