Counsel for President John Dramani Mahama in the presidential election petition at the Supreme Court Wednesday concluded his cross-examination of the petitioners’ star witness and indicated that suggestions that about 2.6 million votes should be annulled were completely preposterous.
But Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the witness, insisted that those votes were tainted with many irregularities relating to over-voting, the nonsigning of pink sheets by presiding officers and duplicated serial numbers.
The witness also said the petitioners were not accusing the President of any malpractice, except that he was the beneficiary of the Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) conduct.
When Mr Tony Lithur asked the witness the legal basis for their findings, Dr Bawumia did not provide any legal basis but maintained that there were many irregularities.
The witness disagreed with counsel that the idea of duplicated serial numbers was compiled by the petitioners to only beef up their case.
Counsel and the witness engaged in a back-and-forth crossfire during the proceedings and the court intervened and warned that they should desist from any commentary or expansionist approach to putting and answering questions.
Mr Lithur said the actual results declared by the EC were not affected by the so-called malpractices alleged by the petitioners, but the witness replied that there was a clear case of irregularity between the actual number of ballot papers issued to voters and those declared.
Dr Bawumia said the petitioners were no longer relying on 704 polling stations, even though they might have filed exhibits relating to those polling stations.
Regarding the issue of double serial numbers for same polling stations, the witness said pink sheets that had the same serial numbers were used during the elections, thereby resulting in the malpractices complained about and hence the action in court.
The witness agreed with counsel that the polling agents of the petitioners were present at the various polling stations and that when he cast his ballot at Walewale he did not ask about the serial number on the pink sheet.
He said as a voter, he did not see it as a concern to look for the serial number because it was a requirement of the EC to validate a vote.
Counsel said the petitioners did not train their polling agents on serial numbers because that was unimportant, but the witness said they expected the EC to check the integrity of the pink sheets and that the serial number was an identifier, just like a cheque book.
According to Dr Bawumia, if the serial numbers were of no relevance, then their absence could open the floodgates for open substitution of data.
He said the polling station name and code, as two identifiers, could be handwritten, whereas the serial number, which was the third feature, was embossed on the pink sheets and that the security of the pink sheets was compromised if the serial numbers were taken away.
The witness disagreed with counsel that the only important identifiers of the pink sheets were their names and code numbers.
Dr Bawumia further agreed with counsel that in areas where serial numbers were allegedly duplicated, polling agents of the petitioners signed those pink sheets.
Counsel showed copies of pink sheets relating to voting without biometric verification and the witnesss was adamant that those could be errors and insisted they were not used in their analysis.
The witness said he was not present at the polling station to be in a position to state whether those who voted without biometric registration did not have their names in the voters register and that they received all sorts of reports about malpractices, the evidence of which was on the pink sheets.
When counsel asked the witness to provide one such formal complaint, Dr Bawumia replied that the formal complaint was what was before the court.
Mr James Quashie-Idun, counsel for the EC, also started his cross-examination of the witness, which related to the rudiments of voting.
The witness said he was unaware of the existence of pink sheets for the special voting conducted for the security agencies.
Asked whether any complaints were lodged by the petitioners over irregularities at the EC Headquarters, the witness replied in the affirmative and said they were asked to go to court.
Hearing continues today – Thursday.
Comments from afar:
Friends, on Day 6 of the Supreme Court’s hearing of the NPP’s petition, two main instances during the cross-examination of Dr. Bawumia during the proceedings have confirmed that the NPP’s petition lacks substance and is crumbling. Regardless of what the party’s followers stick to, the admissions being made by Bawumia in connection with the core issues of the petition are fast eroding the credibility of the petition and the petitioners.
Here are two instances at today’s sitting that are pivotal to the crumbling of the petition:
1. Voting without verification When Tony Lithur questioned Bawumia if he was alleging that anybody voted who was not qualified to vote, Bawumia insisted that he didn’t go to the polling station and that the evidence was on the face of the pink sheet.
When asked if he could produce a single evidence of complaint “in formal,” Bawumia again said the formal complaint was his petition.
Asked again if he had any complaint at the polling station in prescribed form, Bawumia admitted to not having “any such complaint”.
2. Ghost Polling Stations:
Bawumia admitted during cross examination by Quarshie-Idun, Counsel for the Electoral Commission, that the NPP had delegated a polling agent to a polling station the petitioners had described as unknown. (In his evidence-in-chief last Wednesday, Bawumia mentioned 22 polling stations as being alien to the NPP prior to the 2012 election. He argued that the details of the 22 polling stations were not part of the over 24,000 list of polling stations the EC provided to the various parties.)
However today, Quarshie-Idun challenged the allegations that the 22 polling stations were alien to the petitioners and presented a letter purported to have been signed by officials of the petitioners in which a polling agent was assigned to a polling station which fell in the category of what the petitioners claim were ghost polling stations.
Wondering how the petitioners would assign an agent to a non-existent polling station, he queried Bawumia. He denied knowledge of the presence of the letter but confirmed, on the face of the letter, that it was signed by an official of the NPP. Bawumia explained further that signing a letter to assign a polling agent to a polling station that is not recognized by law does not legitimize the presence of that particular polling station.
3. The role of the first respondent (President Mahama) in the irregularities:
Bawumia has so far not been able to say that President Mahama played any role in what the NPP is fighting in court. His answer that he was not aware of any role played by the President in the irregularities is damning to the NPP’s own cause.
After all, Bawumia has no first-hand information with which to prove any of the allegations. Everything is based on the PINKIES and his analysis of the NPP-generated data. Not a good case to fight in court. Can it be a matter of hear-say not being relied on by the Court, especially when the primary document (the PINKIES) are themselves being expose as duplicated, mish-mashed, and padded to deceive the Court?