The Second Respondent (EC) in the ongoing Presidential Election Petition opens its case, Thursday in Day 24 of the substantive hearing.
The evidence by the EC is crucial because it was the institution that organized the elections whose results the petitioners have challenged.
Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, Chair of the EC will be led in evidence by James Quarshie Idun later today.
Judges take their seat and so too has the counsel on all sides.
Quarshie Idun introduces Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan as the star witness for the EC. He takes his seat in the dock. Just when the court clerk approaches him to swear an oath, Addison is up seeking the court’s direction on why it is Dr Afari Gyan who will lead evidence for the EC and not Amadu Sule.
He explains contrary to the rules, Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan has not sworn to any affidavits. It was Amadu Sule who swore to the affidavits. He does not know the ambit under which Dr Gyan is coming to lead evidence. The affidavits of Suley amounts to evidence in chief. He says.
Quarshie-Idun is up. He says the party is the Electoral Commission. It is not only Amadu Sule but also Safo Kantanka who swore to the affidavits. The affidavits sworn of witnesses of the party and Afari Gyan is a party.
Presiding Judge Atuguba after conferring with his colleagues on the bench ruled Dr Afari Gyan is representing the EC as a party to the case and the Returning Officer of the 2012 elections. In pursuant to the directive of the counsel he can give oral evidence for the EC.
Quarshie Idun continues with his case.
He asks witness to introduce himself and what he does. Afari Gyan says he is an election administrator and started his work in Ghana’s EC in 1992. Dr Gyan touts his election credentials as having worked for the UN, Commonwealth, AU and ECOWAS.
Quarshie Idun asks witness if he knows the first, second and third Petitioners. Dr Afari Gyan responds in the affirmative and introduces each one of them.
He is asked if he knows the first and third Respondents. Dr Afari Gyan affirms and introduces them as well.
Quarshie Idun asks him why he is in court. He says he in court to testify on behalf of the EC and by virtue of being the chairman of the EC that supervised the 2012 elections.
“What is an election?” Quarshie Idun asks.
Dr Gyan says “In a democracy, election is a contest between candidates and the contest is decided by the votes of the people.”
Quarshie Idun asks Dr Afari Gyan to take the court through the processes of election. He says, among others,the registration of voters; the printing and distributing of ballots; the training of officials and party agents and the conduct and declaration of results.
Quarshie Idun asks witness to take the court through the Registration Process
Afari Gyan says it starts by establishing Registration centres. We have a principle in Ghana. Where you register is where you vote. Registration centres are polling centres. He says establishing a registration centre equates to establishing a polling station because of that, voter registration is polling station based.
“Can you tell the court how you establish a polling station?”
Dr Afari Gyan says it starts by selecting a suitable and spacious place. It must be accessible and close to the people. Then we give the place a unique code and a name. The code is unique because no two polling stations have the same code. The code is crafted to contain information that directs you to the location of the polling station. The code is a letter followed by six digits and may or may not end in another letter. If we see a code which comprises four digits we know immediately it is a fake code. He takes the court through the what every single letter means in a polling station code.
“How about the name of the polling station?”
Dr Afari Gyan says the name directs you more specifically to the location of the polling station. The combination of the code and the name will direct you to a specific place. A name like Taxi Rank Ngleshie Amanfrom makes it easier for one to locate the polling station.
“Voter ID Card?”
Dr Afari Gyan says says on the Voter ID you will find the code of the polling station and not the name.
“How would you describe of coding?”
Dr Afari Gyan says it is a permanent system of coding because it will only change if the country has more Regions than there are letters of the alphabet.
“Can you tell the court the kind of Voter Registration system we have in Ghana?”
He says the biodata- name, sex, age, parents name, residential address, hometown. All these information is asked to properly identify you.
In 2012 we collected this information but in 2012 we did a biometric registration. He says there are only two eletments that make the registration biometric. We used biometric technology to directly capture the finger prints of the applicant if they were available and to capture the photograph of the witness. Otherwise all other aspects are same.
“Does this system have any advantages?”
In biometric technology you are able to do the registration quickly and be more accurate in the collection of the data. But even more important it prevents identifies and removes multiple registration which was an important problem in our past registraton.
There were numerous occasions where people will register in Accra, then go to the Volta Region and Tamale to register. Because of the biometric system we were able to track all these multiple registration and removed them.
“What happens after the registration?”
Dr Afari Gyan says we give a Voter ID on the spot.
Were there other interests apart from the EC who were involved in the Registration process
The political party representatives took part in the registration process. They were given daily print outs of the number of people who had registered. This may the only country where we have political parties present during registration process. He says the EC has recommended the practice to other countries.
“What did the daily print outs given to the party reps contain?”.
Dr Afari Gyan says it contained the same information as you will find in the registration.
How many days did it take for the registration to be done?
We did not have enough money to buy one machine per a registration centre. So given the amount of money available we decided to spend ten days at each registration centre. Each machine served four polling after which it was rotated for 40 days.
Were there categories of people registered?
People who applied for registration did not have fingers at all. We classified these people as persons suffering from permanent trauma. There were also people who had fingers alright but the machine couldn’t take the finger prints so we classified those people as suffering from temporary trauma. These two groups of people are known to the Voters Register and the biometric registration device. In the register such people have an FO which means Face Only registration.
How many FO have you registered.?
Addison raises an objection to the question on FOs. He says these are matters not stated anywhere in the pleadings or affidavts of the Second Respondent and so he finds it curious why they are bringing it up now. He says the issue about FO is a material issue which have not been alluded in court.
Quarshie Idun offers to rephrase the question
Bawumia says only 3,196 people were registered as FOs what do you say about that.
“I don’t know where he got that figure from” Dr Afari Gyan says. The figure is well over 70,951. An earlier figure was given which is lower than this. The new figure had gone up by 62 following the registration of people in the Kassena Nankana District. Even one region with the lowest number of FOs will be more than 3000.