Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, June 3, 2013.
Electoral Commission (EC) Chairman, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan will most likely be grilled today when Phillip Addison, lead counsel of the petitioners in the Presidential Election Petition ongoing at the Supreme Court begins his cross-examination.
Already, the NDC propaganda machinery has been set in motion, trying to push for the live telecast of the proceedings by Ghana Television to be truncated.
They were all over on radio at the close of the weekend claiming that the government has decided not to pay for the live telecast because of lack of funds even though the Ministry of information has not made any such pronouncement.
The Chairman is expected to complete his examination-in-chief today for Mr. Addison to take over after which the other respondents President John Dramani Mahama and the NDC will also cross-examination the veteran election administrator, Dr. Afari-Gyan.
It is an indication that oral testimony of the landmark petition is coming to an end and the parties are expected to file their addresses for the court to give its judgement.
The court is looking at two critical issues namely: Whether or not statutory violation, irregularities and malpractices occurred during the December 2012 Presidential Election and if it did, whether violation, irregularities and malpractices affected the outcome of the results.
Pink Sheet Count
As the trial proceeded, the issue of how many ‘Statement of Poll and Declaration of Results’ form known as Pink Sheet due to its colour, were attached as exhibits by the petitioners had become very contentious.
This compelled the nine-member panel chaired by Justice William Atuguba decided to appoint an independent referee to do the counting and all the parties settled on KPMG, a reputable international accounting firm, which later offered to do it free of charge.
The petitioners all along insisted that they attached 11,842 pink sheets as exhibits and averred that none of the polling stations was ever used more than once in their analysis.
However, President Mahama and the NDC which came into the petition by way of a joinder and spent more time on their cross-examination than even those who were initially sued as respondents, have claimed that the petitioners did not file 11,842 pink sheets and accused them of duplicating the documents to make a case.
They would not tell the court how many pink sheets were served on them when the order for ‘Further and better particulars’ was issued by the court, but insisted it was 11,842.
Later, when news broke that KPMG, in the presence of two observers each from the parties, had found about 13,900 pink sheets in the counting exercise, even more than the 11,842, the NDC was in the media claiming they were going to complain to the court about the development but nothing has been heard from them ever since.
KPMG, reports indicate,has finished working on the categorization of the exhibits as ordered by the court and it is expected to submit its report.
But for the attempt by the NDC to halt the counting exercise, KPMG would have advanced in the counting.
Just as the exercise began, NDC lead counsel Tsatsu Tsikata came to the court virtually indicting the integrity of the Supreme Court Registry with a story that the exhibits in the court’s custody had been compromised and that the boxes containing the pink sheets had increased from 24 to 31.
He even suggested that once there was ‘criminalities’ involved, they would prefer an extended control mechanism whereby copies served on chairman of the nine-member panel and other two judges would be used to compare with the pink sheets in the court’s registry.
However, the court ruled that complaint by any of the parties should be channeled to the independent referee (KPMG) who will then incorporate it in the report.
Dr. Afari-Gyan in his examination-in-chieftold the packed court that given the huge tasks placed on the shoulders of over 130,000 temporary staff used as Presiding Officers, Returning Officers among others on election day, “it will be a miracle if some of them did not commit mistakes.”
He said there are two transposition errors that can ‘easily’ be committed by the election officials at the collation centre where scores of each candidate is being transferred from the Pink Sheet onto the Collation Form at the constituency level.
He said for example “My scores have been entered against another candidate and maybe, some other candidate’s scores have been entered against me that would be transposition error.”
“Particularly if care is not taken in arranging the candidates, if the candidates are not arranged in the collation form as they are arranged on the polling station form or the pink sheet, it could easily arise in transposition error.”
He said “another transposition error than can occur at the collation centre is taking the score from the pink sheet onto the collation sheet …let’s say the number is 11,000 and then the Returning Officer picks 1,000, that would be another transposition error.”
“We have seen them where they have resulted in the defeat of candidates who should have won the election.”
Dr. Afari-Gyan gave an elaborate explanation of the processes involved in setting up polling stations where he talked about how polling stations are identified by their codes and names.
This is in sharp contrast to NDC General-Secretary Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah’s evidence that when in doubt it is the physical location of the polling station that is taken into consideration.