Akufo Addo Lawyers Protest Against Graphic Reportage...Editor Replies

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Photo Reporting: Akoto Ampaw (L) & Philip AddisonAkufo Addo Lawyers Protest Against Graphic Reportage...Editor Replies

10 June 2013

We act as lawyers for the petitioners in the presidential petition currently before the Supreme Court.



We write particularly to protest the contents of your reportage of proceedings in Supreme Court on Wednesday, 5th June, and Thursday, June 6, 2013, which was carried in the June 6 and 7 edition of your paper.

Both reports were carried by your reporter Mabel Aku Baneseh. While we appreciate efforts by your newspaper to give an accurate and fair account of court proceedings in the presidential petition, we have had occasion to be concerned about some of the reports in your newspaper.

In these particular instances, it has become necessary to lodge an official complaint in the hope that our concerns will be addressed amicably without recourse to other options at our disposal.

You will notice that in the June 6 edition of your paper, under the heading “Afari-Gyan blocked’ at page 23 under the sub-heading ‘I am not a Registration Officer,’ your reporter devoted only one paragraph to the cross-examination of Afari-Gyan by lead counsel for petitioners.

Our complaint, however, is not so much the space given to the cross-examination, but the content of the report. We wish to put on record the fact that when Dr Afari-Gyan was confronted with Form IA, he, at once stage, said that the form was not used in the biometric verification registration exercise and that that was the form the Commission had been using for registration when there was no biometric registration.

It was after some probing by lead Counsel, Mr Phillip Addison, that he eventually admitted that it was the form that was filled in hand by the registration officer, capturing the data of the registrant.

Again, Dr Afari- Gyan made a very significant admission that day during cross-examination in respect of occasions when he would allow an omanhene of a town or a parliamentary candidate to vote even if he could not be verified biometrically as well as any prominent person who was well known and whose name was on the voters register.

He said he would do so if he were a presiding officer. This was a material admission, as it related to an important issue in controversy, namely whether or not every person who voted in the December 2012 presidential election was biometrically verified. We doubt that the significance of this admission was lost on your reporter, but she said absolutely nothing about this in her news report.

An even more significant admission by Dr Afari Gyan on that day during cross-examination by Mr Phillip Addison was that he had not seen a single pink sheet before he declared the results of the 2012 presidential election. This was after persistent attempts by the witness not to answer the question. Amazingly, your reporter refused, for reasons best known to herself, to carry this admission in her report.

Mr Editor, we might have allowed this to pass but for the content of reportage by the same reporter in your paper’s edition on Thursday, June 6, under the headline “Afari-Gyan admits double registration abroad.’ Here again, your reporter was economic with the truth of proceedings in court that day. According to your reporter, after Mr Addison got Dr Afari-Gyan to admit that five of the 51 persons registered abroad were double registration, the President of the panel of judges, Justice Atuguba, directed that Mr Addison should give the witness a composite list to go through while the court went on break.

That was all. Your reporter once more failed to report that when court resumed, Dr Afari Gyan admitted that out of the 51 names the petitioners claim had been duplicated, all but two, who were twins, had in fact been duplicated and that these went into the final register with which the 2012 general elections were conducted.

Again, your reporter reported that Mr Addison had said that the pink sheets from Temporary Booth Polling Station at Jinpenhi had 250, not 250 ballots, issued to that polling station and when Addison tried to cross-examine Dr Afari-Gyan on the said figure, Justice Baffoe-Bonnie noticed that the actual figure was 25 not 250 and asked Mr Addison to be candid with the court.

This is a clear misrepresentation of what happened in court. Mr Addison simply asked: What was the total number of ballot papers issued to the polling station? It was Dr Afari-Gyan who answered that they were 250. The impression created by the news report that it was Mr Addison who mentioned the figure 250 is rather unfortunate.

Daily Graphic is the leading daily newspaper in the country and is state-owned. We have no doubt that you are well aware of your peculiar responsibility under the Constitution of the Republic to afford fair opportunities and facilities for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions.

In the case of court proceedings, divergent views and dissenting opinions are the representations made by the different parties and their witnesses during evidence-in-chief and cross examination.

We expect that as one of the leading state-owned media, your constitutional duty in this regard should be without doubt, that is the need to provide fair, accurate and balance report of court proceedings.

This is in addition to your general duty under the law to ensure that your reportage of court proceedings is accurate, fair and devoid of misrepresentation and judgmental opinions.

We hope we would not have occasion to revisit this subject. Meanwhile, we wish Daily Graphic well in its efforts to ensure that the people of Ghana are accurately informed about proceedings in this historic petition.

Akoto Ampaw,

Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co.



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