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28.11.2008 NDC News

Another NDC MP Aspirant on trial

By David Alan Painstil & Magdalene Sey, Assin Foso - Ghanaian Chronicle
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THE National Democratic Congress (NDC) aspiring parliamentary candidate for the Aowin constituency in the Western Region, Mr. Ntow Mathias Kwame, is standing trial at the Tarkwa Circuit Court for allegedly engaging in double voter registration.

He pleaded not guilty to the offence, and consequently the court, presided over by Justice Kofi Diewuo, admitted him to a sum of GH¢5,000 cedi bail, with a surety to be justified. The case has been adjourned to today.

The candidate is alleged to have registered at the Enchi Primary School polling centre as a voter during the recent voter registration exercise, after successfully transferring his vote from Winneba, in October 2008, to the area, to contest his party primary, where he eventually emerged victorious. That means the candidate has allegedly registered twice as a voter.

Presenting the facts of the case, Mr. George Kpodo, Principal Attorney told the court that in 2004, the accused registered as a voter at Winneba, and was issued with a voter identity card number 14489708 (GI).

The accused then duly applied to the Electoral Commission (EC), to transfer his vote to the Aowin constituency, to enable him contest as an NDC candidate. This was granted by the EC. However, during the recent limited voter registration exercise, according to the prosecutor, the accused went to the Methodist Primary School polling centre and registered again, after the EC official subjected him to a brief challenge.

Mr. Kpodo told the court that the accused registered with the name Mathias Ntow at the said polling centre, and was given identity card number 24329419 (HC).

It was later found out that the accused had allegedly engaged in double registration.

For that reason, a report was made to the police, and it came to light that the candidate's name was found twice in the recently concluded voter registration exercise, as well as the EC poll book, with identity number 24329419 (HC).

He was promptly arrested and questioned, but put up defense to the effect that he (accused) was known as Ntow Mathias Kwame, and not Mathias Ntow, confirming prosecution's suspicion of engaging in double registration.

Three witnesses in the case, Emmanuel Bannor, John Kwasi Nipa and Boafo Anokye, presiding official, CPP and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) party agent respectively, gave evidence in the case, to the effect that the accused candidate did register when the registration exercise was opened.

The EC official, Emmanuel Bannor, went to the extent of attesting that he did register the accused, and his photograph was taken at the same centre.

But, counsel for the accused, Mr. Justice Ansah-Poku of the Law Trust Chambers in Accra, countered the evidence of the three witnesses, on the grounds that his client did not register as a voter on the day the registration exercise was opened.

He stated that he only came to the center to observe the registration proceedings as an aspiring parliamentary candidate, which was not unusual.

The prosecution tendered photocopies of both the poll and the registration book which contains the accused name as Mathias Ntow, as evidence.

But, counsel for the accused opposed the evidence, on the grounds that it could not be taken to be authentic documents from the EC. But the sitting judge upheld it.

What is now left for the prosecution to do is to produce the Form A sheet as substantive evidence, which may have the accused's picture embossed on it, to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused registered in the recent limited registration exercise. Without this, the accused would be discharged of the offence of double registration.

The form A sheet is the form given out by the EC to the applicant, when registering as a voter with one picture embossed on it.

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