Ghana election petition: Judge cautions public to be circumspect in utterance

supreme courtMr Justice Sulley Gbadegbe, one of the Justices hearing the election petition, has expressed unhappiness over a story in the media which describes judges who sat on the Bernard Mornah’s case as “timid”.

“When we delivered the Mornah’s case, perhaps we were wrong, but that was our decision. Certain stories that have appeared on some websites describing Judges as timid are not healthy for the development of the law. It is not proper”, he said and urged the general public to be circumspect in their utterances.

Mr Justices William Atuguba, the Presiding Judge, also issued another warning to lawyers and journalists to be accurate in their reportage of the proceedings in court.

He cited the case of Mr Benoni Tony Amekudzi and accused some lawyers and journalists of misreporting what actually happened.

He said the court wants to be liberal but warned they will be forced to take action if they are taken for granted.

Mr Tsatsu Tsikata then resumed his cross-examination of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the second petitioner in the ongoing election petition.

Mr Tsikata picked 76 pink sheet exhibits  and asked the witness to examine the exhibits and tell the court whether the pink sheets were manually generated and whether the NPP had polling agents in those polling stations.

Dr Bawumia in answering said the last two of the exhibits were manually generated and that the NPP polling agents were present and signed.

Mr Tsikata suggested to the witness that one of the pink sheets had no exhibit number and wanted to know why there is no number.

Dr Bawumia admitted there is no exhibit number but could not explain why adding that the pink sheet ought to have an exhibit number but was surprised there is none.

Mr Tsikata continued by providing another list of 38 polling station exhibits which he said have been duplicated but with different exhibit numbers.

He then asked the witness to confirm if there were polling agents from the NPP and whether or not they signed.

Dr Bawumia, after checking the documents confirmed there were duplicates but said none of the duplicates pink sheets were used more than once in the analysis adding that the NPP polling agents signed to attest what was on the face of the pink sheet.

Mr Tsatsu then made a case on the failure by the Commissioner of Oath to sign and stamp copies pink sheet exhibits and asked witness if he was present throughout the process of the Commissioner adding that about 70 per cent of the exhibits brought by the petitioners were not stamped.

He said the court had ordered the petitioners to provide polling station exhibits of 11,916 but the number of exhibits provided was way below what the court ordered and that they duplicated and triplicate the pink sheets to make up the number.

Dr Bawumia responded by saying he could not confirm the percentage suggested but said given the magnitude of papers to be photocopied and submitted to the court, the number of duplications brought before the court by the respondents is relatively small.

He said the petitioners are confident that they provided 11,842 out of which they dropped 700 pink sheets which leave a total of 11,132 pink sheet exhibits before the court.

Mr Tsikata then suggests that the only way to resolve the total pink sheet controversy is to have the total number of exhibits counted and with this Dr Bawumia agreed.

Mr Justice Atuguba cautioned the counsel of the third respondent not to ask the question of “duplicates to mislead” anymore because that question has been asked and answered many times.

Mr Tsikata also provided another set of pink sheet exhibit and asked the witness to confirm if the number on the face of the pink sheet has been cancelled and if it is why a different exhibit number has been provided on the same pink sheet.

Dr Bawumia confirmed there appeared to be a cancellation but cannot explain why the cancellation took place and whether the number which has been repeated on the commissioner of oaths copy or the other number which has been written on top of the cancelled number.

Dr Bawumia said the exhibit number was generated by different people.

Mr Tsikata then demanded from the witness to mention at least two people who gave the exhibit numbers and who were present during signing and stamping by the Commissioner of Oath.

Dr Bawumia mentioned Mr Akoto Ampaw and Gloria Akuffo, however Mr Philip Addison, Counsel for the petitioners rose to his feet and demanded the relevance of the question being asked the witness.

He said the people who were present during the stamping ceremony is not relevant to the court and that asking the witness to divulge issues that went on between himself and his counsel was unethical and must not be allowed by the court.

At that juncture, Mr Tsikata got infuriated and asked Addison to “shut up” so he could continue with his submission.

Mr Addison, however, rose to his feet and pleaded with the bench to speak to Mr Tsikata to tone down on his language otherwise they are capable of responding in like manner.

Mr Tony Lithur, Counsel for President John Mahama, also defended the relevance of the question being asked by Mr Tsikata.

Mr Addison again rose to his feet challenging the right of Mr Lithur to speak on the matter.

He said in what capacity is Lithur making his argument adding whether he was now part of counsel for the third respondent?

Mr Justice Atuguba stepped in to calm tempers and conferred with his colleagues on the bench to give a ruling on the objections raised by Mr Addison.

The judges in their ruling upheld the objection raised by Mr Addison and directed that Mr Tsikata should limit his questions regarding who was present to only those who are not lawyers.

They also upheld the objection raised against Mr Lithur for interjecting during cross examination by the third respondent.

Mr Tsikata after the break continued his cross-examination by asking the witness to explain to the court why there was a difference in exhibit numbers on the pink sheets as well as on that provided by the Commissioner of Oath.

Dr Bawumia conceded that there is discrepancy in the labeling but said with the better particulars in the possession of the respondents there should be no confusion.

Mr Tsikata also asked the witness to tell the court the number of exhibits numbers which are not in the affidavits.

Dr Bawumia said 183 but there are two categories of exhibits numbers on those selected pink sheet exhibits.

He said one was wrong and the other was correct adding that on the face of the pink sheet one may be confused but with the further details on the better particulars there should not be any confusion at all.

Mr Tsikata again sought to find out from the witness how many days it took for the Commissioner of Oath to sign the document and who were present during the signing of the documents.

Mr Addison again raised an objection saying Mr Tsikata was being speculative on his line of questioning and has been repetitive.

Mr Tsikata, however, shot back saying Mr Addison is showing a mark of “inexperience” when it comes to cross examination.

The Judges in their ruling upheld the objection raised by Addison and asked Mr Tsatsu to make progress in his cross-examination.

Mr Tsikata presented another pink sheet exhibit in which allegations of over-voting, voting without verification and other irregularities had been highlighted.

Dr Bawumia said that on the face of the pink sheet there is no over voting but added that it may well be part of the initial exhibits that had been struck out.

He said on the issue of over-voting, at least 53 of them have been deleted from the initial list of exhibits and this exhibit may well be part of the deleted ones.

Mr Tsikata presented some more exhibits in which he said there is no case of over voting and witness to confirm if there was over voting.

Dr Bawumia confirmed there is no over voting on the face of the pink sheet but said he is not sure if that particular pink sheet has been deleted from the original list.

Dr Tsikata again presents another pink sheet exhibit and asks if witness can confirm if there is an over voting.

Dr Bawumia confirmed there is over voting because the space for the total number of voters in that polling station has been left blank adding that is a way of hiding the crime of over voting.

Mr Tsikata moved on with his cross examination and asked the witness to confirm if there is another case of over voting on a pink sheet exhibit he has tendered in evidence.

Dr Bawumia confirmed there was an over-voting because the addition of the total ballots garnered by the candidates exceeded the total number of ballots issued.

Interestingly, in words the figure is different, Bawumia noted after examining the figure on the sheet saying there is over over-voting even though in words there is no over-voting.

Mr Tsikata brought in another set of pink sheet exhibits to be checked by the witness and on which he will cross examine the witness on.

He asserted in the list of 64 pink sheets examined so far, there have been no cases of over voting as alleged by the witness.

Dr Bawumia said out of the list of 64, he has checked 46 so far adding that there were three of the exhibits which are over voting instances and that would explain to the court tomorrow his point of disagreement.

Case adjourned to tomorrow for the continuation of the cross-examination

Source: GNA

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