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05.03.2013 General News

Start The Case

By Daily Guide
Justice William AtugubaJustice William Atuguba
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The legal team of the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) 2012 presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and two other party big shots challenging the validity of the Electoral Commission's (EC) declaration of John Mahama as winner of the December 2012 polls, yesterday filed an application asking the Supreme Court to set out directives for the trial to commence.

The legal team, in its application, further prayed the Court to give directives that seven clear days before the trial commences, it should be furnished with the list of all witnesses plus a brief summary of the nature and relevance of each witness' testimony.

It also asked that the Court should determine the value of the testimony of each witness.

A member of Nana Addo's legal team, Godfred Yeboah Dame, explained to DAILY GUIDE that the team is also asking the court to determine whether or not during the December 7 and 8, 2012 elections, the Electoral Commission allowed voting to take place without prior biometric verification at some polling stations.

He said the team further wants the Court to determine whether or not the ballots cast without prior biometric verification at the polling station were taken into account by the Electoral Commission in the final declaration of the results of the December 7 and 8, 2012 polls.

Lawyer Dame said his team wants to know whether or not in some instances, the total votes cast exceeded the number of ballot papers issued to voters at polling stations.

It further wants to know whether or not there were instances where the total votes cast at particular polling stations exceeded the total number of registered voters at those polling stations.

The team is also seeking a determination on whether or not there were several instances where different results were recorded on the Statement of Polls, also known as Pink Sheets, and different results recorded for the Presidential candidates at the same polling station.

It is seeking a determination on whether or not there were some 28 locations where voting took place, whereas those 28 locations were not part of the official number of polling stations provided by the Electoral Commission to the political parties.

The team is seeking a determination of whether or not the instances of statutory and regulatory violations, malpractices and irregularities affected the results of the polls of December 7 and 8, 2012.

It is asking for a determination of whether the votes recorded as a result of the instances of statutory and regulatory violations, malpractices and irregularities should not be annulled.

Nana Addo's legal team also suggested that the court should allow the parties to adopt the use of audio visual aids in the presentation of evidence.

The Court would be sitting to hear the application on Thursday, March 14.

Nana Akufo-Addo, his running mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and NPP chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey filed a petition at the Supreme Court challenging the EC's declaration of John Mahama as winner of the 2012 polls.

The petition initially named the Electoral Commission and President John Mahama as respondents; but the National Democratic Congress (NDC) later applied to join the case which the court granted.

Public Concern
Since the court adjourned the proceedings for the parties involved to serve each other with 'interrogatories' or 'further and better particulars', many have expressed concern about the long delay.

Chairman of the nine-member panel trying the case, Justice William Atuguba, at the last adjourned date in response to a question posed by the petitioners, said that Rule 69 (C) (1) of C.I. 74 gives the court the power to start the trial 15 days after the respondents have filed their answers to the amended petition.

Philip Addison, lead counsel for the petitioners, had drawn the court's attention to the fact that the rules of court were silent on what happens next after filing the amended statement and the respondents had filed their answers.

He said, “We want directions from the court” and Justice Sulley N. Gbadegbe asked the bar to “put your heads together.”

As the Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) regulating the trial states, once the main trial gets underway, the court is expected to sit on a daily basis even on holidays and on weekends if possible, unless the untoward happens.

The court has since January 11 been hearing preliminary objections and with the answers to the amended petition filed by all the three respondents, it will not be long before the petition itself is heard.

Had it not been the filing of an amended petition, some legal experts believe that the trial would most likely have been underway by now.

The amendment to the petition came about because the three petitioners – New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his running mate Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and the party's Chairman Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey- said they have found more evidence of irregularities and malpractices in the December 2012 contest.

Initially, they filed for only 4,709 polling stations where they averred that there was evidence of irregularities and malpractices and indicated to the court that there were many more to come.

It was also a way to beat the 21-day mandatory deadline in which any aggrieved candidate of an election reserved the right to seek legal redress.

The petitioners therefore added 7,107 polling stations to the original 4,709 polling stations filed, making a total of 11,916.

The petitioners said the alleged irregularities now affect 4,670,504 votes out of the 10,995,262 “valid” votes cast and annulling them will take out 3,101,590 from the total votes cast for the first respondent to the petition John Mahama, and 1,473,346 from Nana Akufo-Addo.

This will bring President Mahama's total valid votes cast to 2,473,171 (39.1%) and Nana Akufo-Addo's down to 3,775,552, making him the clear winner by 59.69%.

This is because about 67% of the illegal votes that the petitioners are asking to be annulled benefited the third respondent's (National Democratic Congress – NDC) candidate, John Mahama.

The Electoral Commission (EC), the body that supervised the December general elections, cited as the second respondent in the petition, has denied every averment in the petitioner's statement of case.

The 1st (President Mahama) and 3rd (NDC) respondents have also denied the petitioner's claims and have said they will put them to strict proof.

President Mahama has said he intends to present over 11,000 witnesses to state his case.

The President is represented by Tony Lithur and Abdul Bassit Bamba while the EC is led by James Quarshie-Idun, Anthony Dabi and Stanley Amarteifio.

The NDC is led by Tsatsu Tsikata, Samuel Kudjoe and Barbara Serwaa Asamoah.

Apart from Justices Atuguba and Gbadegbe, other judges are Sophia O. Adinyira, Julius Ansah, Rose C. Owusu, Annin Yeboah, Jones Dotse, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie and Vida Akoto-Bamfo.

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