Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, who is representing both the first and third respondents mounts the witness box today to testify in the petition challenging the declaration of President John Dramani Mahama as the winner of the 2012 presidential election at the Supreme Court.
Judges of the Supreme Court have taken their seats for hearing to commence at 10:00 am.
Petitioners and respondents are in court. Counsel for the parties have introduced team members.
10:00am Hearing begins
Tsatsu wants petitioners to officially close their case. Addison says subject to the outcome of the audit by KPMG they have ended re-examination.
Tsatsu is up. He says Aseidu Nketia is also testifying on behalf of the first respondent, President Mahama. Lithur hands over Aseidu Nketia “General Mosquito” to Tsikata to lead the evidence.
“General Mosquito” mounts the witness box and chooses to swear an oath using the Bible. He introduces himself to the court. He says he has power of attorney signed by H.E John Mahama.
Tsatsu asks him to explain why he is testifying for first respondent.
Aseidu explains that the president was elected by the NDC for 2012 presidential elections. He was sponsored by the party. As general secretary he has been with the president through all meetings in the run-up to the elections.
He defines his role as leading the party’s team to IPAC, party primaries, monitoring elections on voting day and training of 52,004 polling agents for the NDC
Tsatsu asks what role P.A play at polling stations
Aseidu responds they are to ensure that nobody entitled to vote gets the opportunity to do so.Nobody votes more than once, i.e multiple voting. Nobody tempers with ballot box.E.C officers conduct themselves according to the rules guiding polling station operations
Tsatsu asks if he has been involved in elections before.
He has been general secretary for 7 years involved in 2008 elections and other elections from 1978 when he was a polling agent during a referendum. He has since been involved in every elections as a party official or candidate.
Tsatsu asks what are the key steps to the 2012 elections
He participated in the IPAC meeting where key decisions about elections were taken including meetings to determine position on ballot paper, printing of ballot papers and the use of biometric register.
Tsatsu asks what process was in place for the use of biometric machine
He responds it involves capturing biometric information of voters by the EC. Every party was in a position to compile his list. Provisional register was 13,907,000. He says it excludes Ghanaians outside the country, those on missions.
What was the state of the register before the biometric register?, Tsatsu asks.
When the others were added it became 14,185,000. The figure kept changing so the EC drew a cut-off point of 14,301,700. He says that was before the printing of the ballot papers i.e before November.
Is it significant to the timing of printing?, Tsatsu asks.
There is a co-relation between the number of papers printed and the register at all times. They were given the list of polling stations.
Was third respondents involved in the printing of the ballot papers.
He says yes. Ballot papers are “security documents”. The printing houses are known to all parties. The EC calls a meeting to give timetable for printing and allows agents to be present during the printing. His party used 3 shifts of 8 hours each. There was 24 hrs vigilance.
After the printing is done, the party tracks distribution into various regions and constituencies. ” if there is any movement of ballot papers they are properly sealed” from national to regional.
Tsatsu: You are aware that the second petitioner has testified that the NPP did not have a provisional register in respect of the elections.
Yes he says. He read it in their affidavit. But there was a meeting before compilation of the register, EC said there would be daily print-out. NPP’s copy will be sent to Accra for compilation. It would be the same as for other parties and should be considered provisional.
Tsatsu: Who was involved in training polling agents.
Aseidu: They are key resource persons. Second respondents (EC) participate in the training. They also allow their resource persons for further training of any party. He says the EC organizes training of all agents of presidential candidates.
Tsatsu says there is a booklet in evidence from the EC. He shows it to Aseidu. He shows exhibit EC1 and EC2.
Aseidu says they are training guides from EC. It is “a principal manual”. EC2 is a guide for electoral officials but parties use it to understand the role of EC at polling stations.
Tsatsu: Is there any specific area of focus.
Addison objects that it is a leading question. The question is not suggesting an answer. He re-formulates for the avoidance of doubt as directed by presiding judge.
Tsatsu: Did you have any key points that formed part of the training.
Aseidu: Yes he says the agents are made to check impersonation, multiple voting and then focus on the tallying of votes.
Aseidu continues that the sorting of ballot papers was another highlight. The agents are there “to protect everybody’s vote”. They get copies of the Biometric register even before they get to polling stations. Once results are signed and declared, they go to the collation center.
Tsatsu asks him to explain the sorting.The sorting is checking that the right ballot papers are used.
Tsatsu asks if he voted. He says he voted in his hometown in the Tain district of the Brong-Ahafo region
Tsatsu asks him how he voted. He details how he voted.
Addison is up, he say the questions were irrelevant. His affidavit should have captured the things Aseidu is saying. But Tsikata says it is relevant. He refers to paragraph 8,9,10 of their affidavit. It relates to the processes undertaken on election day.
Addison says their own affidavit relies on polling agents not Aseidu Nketia. Tsatsu says their affidavit involved the processes that is within Aseidu’s personal knowledge. He is “at a loss” at to why Addison is objecting.
Judges are considering the objection.
The panel rule that by 5-4 majority, the objection is over-ruled.He says
Tsatsu should go by the affidavit “as much as possible”.
Aseidu continues and says he visited 20 polling stations spread over 10 regions.
Tsatsu: What was the outcome of the elections?
Aseidu: The EC declared Mahama winner.
Atuguba says that is obvious so he should go on.
tsatsu How did you hear the declaration. Witness says it was through a press conference.
Aseidu says voting entered two days about of biometric challenges. the Ghana Peace Council called for a meeting with the NPP and EC. They observed but did not participate. The meeting was to urge EC to postpone declaration. But EC did not agree with GPC and delcared results in the eveining.
Tsatsu his finds out his view of overvoting.
Witness says “there was nowhere in all 26,000 polling station where ovrvoting” occured. number of votes in ballot box exceed the number of votes by the people at the polling stations. This is his view of overvoting.
Is Overvoting where ballots tallied exceed number of ballots issued, tsatsu asks.
That was the first time he heard of overvoting so defined by petitioners in all his 34 years of election observation.
has he heard that pink sheet where no number was issued and was blank?.
This must be clerical errors. Ballot papers are issued, voting,counting,sorting takes places and certified. If no paper was issued then elections did not take places at all. He is not aware of complaints that were lodge except 5 tendered in by petitioners.
Is he aware of voting without verification?, Tsatsu asks.
He says parties agreed that every voter should be verified before voting. there was “unanimous decision” that back-up machines should be provided otherwise voting should be postponed.EC announced that in 400 polling stations voting could not take place so it postponed. He didn’t here about machines breaking down on the second day.
Nobody has made a specific allegation about any individual voting without verification, he adds.
Has he seen a statement the President Mahama said people should be allowed to vote without biometric verification?
He responds that the report had prominent people such as chiefs in the Northern region and president of Upper East Regional Houses of Chiefs as well as candidate Mahama. It was just an appeal, the EC did not agree with.
The petitioner’s claim is not of “evidential value”
Is he aware of the case of serial numbers in one polling station being the same elsewhere?
EC and parties have agreed on ways to identify polling station. The two ways are the name related to the location and code numbers.
An experienced agent would know just by the code number where the polling station is located. He say Western region is A, Ashanti region –F. Brong Ahafo – G. The next indicate district, the next is constituency down to the polling station.
The system is so transparent. There is nowhere EC trains polling agents on serial numbers.
Is he aware of pink sheets without signatures, Tsatsu asks
It is true, witness says that polling agents must sign. But the polling agents certified the presiding officer’s work. The officers continued with their duties to transfer results to collation center. The presiding officer has no space on the pink sheet to complain of his own work. But polling agents do.
Are you aware of “unknown polling stations”?, Tsatsu asks
Aseidu says a list of 26,002 polling stations were given even before printing of ballot papers. He has checked. In some cases the names of the polling stations were wrongly spelled or written in the petition. But they have identified the “so-called” list that were missing polling stations.
He makes a mistake in referring to his affidavit as his petition. He says as a “village palm-wine taper” testifying in court, mistakes are to be expected.
They refer to the list of polling stations supposedly missing but which they have identified.
Tsatsu shows him a document used by the second petitioner. It is ID1.
Aseidu says it relates to M/A primary school , Asokwa.
Tsatsu says from the code of the polling station, can he identify the polling station.
Witness says F is Ashanti region.
Is there any information on the sheet related to the December elections .
Addison objects. The sheet is not in evidence. Tsatsu says he is laying the foundation for tendering. But Addison says the information on the sheet is already known.
A judge says they should avoid going back and forth on objection and wait for the bench to give any counsel the go ahead
The panel is considering the objection. The panel rules that the objection is sustained.
Tsatsu announces that he would like to tender the exhibit.Addison says he objects to it. It is in contravention of order of the court on 2nd April to properly attach all documents to their affidavits. This document is not one of them. Allowing this document disregards the court order, he says. “It is not part of their case. We have closed our case and we are now being confounded by fresh documents”, he argues.
Tsatsu defends the tendering and says that yesterday the petitioners tender a list of 704 polling stations. This list was not part of their affidavits. The judges allowed it because of its relevance. The same should be accorded them.
The document was also identified during cross-examination and it is in respect of a particular polling station. It is part of their case in respect of 22,002 polling stations. They have also pleaded the selective manner in which pink sheets have been provided.
He refers to their affidavit and says there is indication in paragraph 17 and 27 of amended answer, petitioner’s selective evidence was in bad faith.
Idun is up to make an observation. But Addison says there is an objection; his observations can wait.
Addison says the list of 704 polling stations are part of their original number of polling stations and in the Further and Better particulars. He adds that relevancy is not the issue, complying with the court order was the issue.
Tsatsu refers to the order. He says the court order allows them to tender a document during cross-examination.
The panel considers the objection ans sustains Addison’s objection. Addison says the document should be marked “reject”. The court agrees.
Atuguba announces break time. Court resumes in an hour.
Column A2 gives the serial number range on the pink sheet. Petitioner’s claim its the final indicator.Witness says the voters’ register is the primary indicator.
Tsatsu says there are numbers in C1 and C3 of a pink sheet and asks witness to identify it.
Witness says C1 what is the number of ballot issued,C3 what is the number of ballot issued to voters verified
Tsikata says petitioners used this for overvoting, does he have a view.
Asiedu says it can only be a clerical error. It has not happened part from certain polling stations tendered in. He says the polling agents are well trained to complain.
Tsatsu: asks about empty balloting accounting spaces on pink sheets.
Asiedu says once its getting to 5pm everybody “in the village” heads to the polling station. Pressure is brought to bear on the presiding officers. They sort, tally and release the results before ballot accounting is done.
Tsatsu asks him to read the declaration by polling agents as they signed the pink sheet.Witness reads and says NPP polling agents signed.
Tsatsu shows him NBE 270 which was used by the petitioners.
Witness says its not every clear but its code number is A043503. The top corner has the number of ballots issued- its 600. He identifies top most right corner.
He says polling agents signed so there is “no controversy”.
Tsatsu wants explanation about issues that came up at Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting on the biometric machines.
Witness says after a pilot biometric registration and verification, parties agreed that no verification, no vote. So their agents were trained to observe this accordingly. He said the NDC took the position of an alternative if the machine broke down. NPP took a position that machine should be replaced if it became problematic or else voting should be postponed.
Tsatsu: How ballots are rejected
Asiedu: Agents are trained on how to identify valid and rejected ballots. If a ballot is marked that you cannot is know the choice of the voter or the voter can be identified after voting or ballot does not come from the polling stations, it is rejected.
He says a spoilt ballot is when in the course of tearing a ballot paper, or when a mark on the paper can compromise his vote or the voter soils the paper whiles voting, it is deemed spoilt.
Tsikata says in the C-column where is spoilt ballots entered. Witness says C-4.
Petitioners cite as an irregularity, same polling stations with different results?
It is because petitioners are not appreciating how voting is done. Double pink sheets or same polling stations but different results were used for special voting.
The first one indicates results of special voting and the other normal voting. He explains special voting is for those whose duties may not allow them to vote on normal voting day. But results are not cleared until after normal elections.
He adds every party knows where special voting is done.
He is shown a column where results does not tally.
He maintains that ballot accounting systems were done after results were declared so it can be explained as clerical errors.
He refers to B2: what is the number of voters on proxy list.
Proxy list is for those empowered to vote for others who may not be around on voting day, he explains.
How is the answer on B2 related to B1: what is the number of voters on the polling station register. It is 576 in all B-columns showing there was no proxy voting.
He shows him exhibit NBH 764 under category of pink sheets with different results.He looks at A1. What is the number of ballots issued to this polling station- entry is 10.
Tsatsu: What is the total votes in the ballot box – 423. The 2nd petitioner says its over-voting?
He disagrees. The number of votes in the box does not exceed the number of people on the register -758. |t cannot represent over-voting.
He mistaken 10,000 for 10 and corrects it. ” Maybe I will need Bawumia’s calculator”, he says.
Tsatsu says petitioners argue that a blank in A1 or B1 that is over-voting.
Witness disagrees. “A blank is a blank, there figure is unknown”. It’s a clerical omission. Again polling agents signed, he says.
D1 is number of rejected ballot papers. He explains ballot papers are stamped if during sorting they notice a paper without the stamp it was rejected
He shows another exhibit NBH 196 and focuses on the C-section. C-1 to D-columns are blank but results were declared and signed by polling agents including NPP.
Witness refers to the polling station code C060106. C is Greater Accra. A2 has some entries that he reads out. They are serial numbers on the ballot.
He looks at C1, the number is 4 but total votes cast is 374. All polling agents certified and did not lodge any complain.
In the column C and D, they are blank. At the bottom B- section total rejected votes appears in B6.
Tsatsu asks if he is aware that in every case where votes in B section is in excess of what is in columns C and others it should be annulled.
But witness says if there is nothing there, then the figure is unknown.
Over-voting is number of ballots in the box and number of voters on the register. He says the electoral laws are known. He says its entirely possible for a voter to put a presidential ballot into a parliamentary and vice versa.
In that case you turn all the ballot papers face down and check the stamp. If it still persists then check the serial number on the ballot.
All these are down during sorting.
Complaint procedure and irregularity form are two important tools empowering polling agents to ensure the right thing is done.
Tsatsu: Who does the sorting?
He says sorting is down by the electoral officers and presiding officer. The polling agents are to observe not to participate in the sorting.
Counting is done by lifting the ballot one by one in the full view of the public.
Tsatsu shows him an African Union report on the elections headed by former president of Nigeria, Obasanjo.
Witness says the former president met stakeholder and followed up on allegation that results were padded at 37 military hospital. He says the report rejected the allegation as untrue.
He says the NPP made allegations that results being declared was not what they got.
Tsatsu shows him an exhibit which is a press statement of NPP to EC. What was the claim in the statement?
Witness says the NPP had credible evidence of malpractices and requested an audit of all verification machines and gave 7 pink sheets to EC to prove that something had gone wrong. EC after a meeting said they cannot postpone the declaration of results on the basis of the 7 pink sheets.
Witness in his affidavit claimed the NPP made shifting allegation. He said representatives complained of malpractices after they claimed early on that results were free and fair. He said this came when NPP realized they were losing the elections.
They changed the claim that the results were not padded but rather swapped with that of president Mahama. He says even in court the petitioners have been changing the claim and that he is not sure if they will change it “before the verdict”.
He says bad faith is exhibited when NPP says they would accept the results and even began declaring the elections free and fair then when they are losing they change their stances.
Addison objects, can he tells us where petitioners said it was free and fair. It is a serious allegation and its not in their pleading.
Tsatsu says Addison would have his turn and draws court attention to the “chorus behind” the bar. Atuguba asks audience to tone down on their chorus.
Tsatsu continues and refers to paragraph 27 of respondent’s amended answer. It states the bad faith of the petitioners. It also described the petition as “frivolous, vexatious”. There are other examples of bad faith.
He reads his proportions of his affidavit, “after declaration of results, representatives of NPP have made changing allegations”.
One judge intervenes and asks Tsatsu to indicate a particular example of the witness’s claim. Tsikata says counsel for petitioners can have his chance during cross-examination. He refers to a statement by Boakye Agyarko’s description that the elections was free and fair.
Judge says that is an example he can use if he wishes.
Panel of judges over-rule the objection. Addison asks if its a unanimous decision. Lithur is against the Addison’s query. Atuguba says unless he hears the numbers, it’s unanimous. Tsatsu calls Addison’s reference unnecessary.
He also defers lawyer Amekudzi’s application to Tuesday.
Tsatsu continues but Atuguba says the bench are “objecting to continuity”. He adjourns proceedings to Tuesday as Monday is a national holiday.