Supreme Court judge warns lawyers against unsavoury comments

law-and-justiceMr Justice William Atuguba, the Presiding judge on Wednesday warned both counsel in the election petition to refrain from making unsavoury comments about each other in court.

He said “going forward any unpleasant comment from both counsel would have to be withdrawn.”

The warning follows an objection raised by Mr Philip Addison, lead Counsel for the petitioner to the use of words like “dishonest” by Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, Counsel for NDC, to describe Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the second petitioner.

Mr Addison who did take kindly to those words said Mr Tsikata was fond of using unsavoury words to denigrate counsel for the petitioners and the witness, as well asplaying to the gallery.

He warned that counsel for the petitioners were capable of responding in like manner to any unpleasant word used by the counsel for the third respondent.

Justice Atuguba, who was not happy with the situation intervened to calm tempers and urged both counsel to follow the ethnics of their profession by being civil with their language.

He catalogued many unsavoury comments by both counsel including a “shut up”.

He said the mudslinging is even and it must cease, jokingly saying, “whether manually or electronically.”

Earlier, Mr Addison raised another objection on the identification of another pink sheet by Dr Bawaumia.

He said they disapprove of the springing up of surprises by the counsel of the third respondent.

Justice Atuguba upheld the objection raised by Mr Addison.

Mr Tsikata then asked for the ruling that was given the previous day concerning the admissibility or otherwise of a pink sheet from the NPP strong hold to be read to him again in order to guide him in his cross-examination. Mr Atuguba read the ruling again for the avoidance of doubt.

Mr Tsikata then shifted from asking questions on that new pink sheet to allegations of over voting on a number of pink sheet exhibits tendered in evidence by the petitioners.

Dr Bawumia in an answer, said though they were not present at the polling station, the over voting concurs with the evidence on the pink sheet.

Mr Tsikata then told the witness that the pink sheet is not the primary record of the election but rather the document in which the presiding officer records his receipt of ballot papers on.

Dr Bawumia insisted however that the primary record of the election at the polling stations was the pink sheet.

Mr Tsikata presented another list of pink sheet exhibits in which he is set to challenge the allegations of over voting.

He referred to Sections of the Evidence Decree that deals with the demeanour of the witness, substance of the testimony and the capacity of witness to testify and existence of bias and why he should be allowed to make the witness identify a document which he initially attempted to but his Counsel objected to.

Dr Bawumia in answering said he did his analysis based on 11,842 polling stations and not the over 26,000 polling stations result.

Mr Tsikata however questioned the basis of Bawumia’s analysis saying that he did so because he wanted to be a Vice-president, to which Dr Bawumia said he has no personal interest and that it is not about him but about Ghana’s democracy.

Mr Tsikata also asked Dr Bawumia how he advised the committee that worked on the pink sheet about what constituted over-voting. Dr Bawumia said he identified all the documents of over-voting himself in response.

Mr Tsikata asked the witness whether he had had any briefing by the Electoral Commission on what constituted over-voting, to which the witness responded by saying that he heard a public briefing from the EC before the December 2012 elections on what constitutes over-voting.

Dr Bawumia also confirmed that they examined about 24,000 pink sheets out of which 11,138 polling stations were selected.

Mr Tsikata asked the witness if he was aware that the EC declared results from 26,000 pink sheets, and the witness replied that he was aware but his analysis was based on over 11,000 polling stations.

Mr Tsikata further asked the witness whether petitioners were seeking to annul about 50 per cent of Mahama’s votes.

Dr Bawumia in answering said he is not seeking annulment of votes to become vice-president but to correct irregularities in elections which affects Ghana’s democracy.

Mr Tsikata suggested to the witness that he selectively concentrated on strongholds of Mahama in his analysis.

Dr Bawumia objected to the claim saying his analysis covers 272 out of 275 constituencies and therefore could not have been selective.

Mr Tsatsu referred to a PowerPoint presentation of irregularities by the witness, saying that,   he could not make such a statement if he had fully covered 26,002 polling stations.

Dr Bawumia in responding said his analysis covered 11,842 polling stations and can make a statement based on this number.

Mr Tsikata had wanted Dr Bawumia to identify a polling station outside the 11,842 that the petitioners had presented to the court, but Mr Addison objected to it, saying that, they were not going to identify any polling station and that the court had already ruled on the  matter.

Source: GNA

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