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Bawumia in the 'box' to make case for annulment of presidential results

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Dr Bawumia leaving the Supreme Court WednesdayOne of the three petitioners in the presidential election challenge, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, Wednesday stated before the Supreme Court that the declaration of the results of the December 2012 presidential election by the Electoral Commission (EC) was not supported by primary documents.

He maintained that widespread constitutional and statutory violations, irregularities and malpractices which characterised the election should be a cause for the annulment of results in the affected areas because they influenced the outcome of the entire results.

Dr Bawumia, who was led in evidence by the lead counsel for the petitioners, Mr Phillip Addison, said after the declaration of the election results, the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, set up a committee to investigate some irregularities uncovered.

As head of that committee, he said, he ensured that the statement of poll and declaration of results forms for the office of president, otherwise   known   as  the   Pink Sheets,  were examined and analysed and it was the committee’s findings which resulted in the court action.

He said the Pink Sheet was the official primary document of the election at the polling station and it was on that record that the EC declared President Mahama  the winner of the election.

The witness, who was very well composed during his testimony, explained to the court that the three parts of the Pink Sheet must be consistent and that the information or questions on the form ought to be filled before and after the election.

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He explained that the final part of the form, the declaration aspect, was to be filled by the presiding officer, as well as political party agents, and it was the aggregate of those forms that the EC used to declare the results.

He said on examination and analysis of the forms, widespread constitutional and statutory violations, malpractices and irregularities were found relating to over-voting, voting without biometric verification, unsigning of pink sheets by presiding officers or their assistants, use of duplicate serial and code numbers, non-existing polling stations where voting took place and a bloated voters register.

In all, he said, 24,000 pink sheets were examined and over-voting was recorded in two forms, namely, where the total votes in the ballot boxes recorded on the pink sheets exceeded the number of voters in the voters register and where total voters as recorded on the pink sheet exceeded the total number of ballots recorded on the pink sheets.

Dr Bawumia said the EC was emphatic about the one-man-one-vote principle and indicated before the election that if after voting the results declared at a particular centre was exceeded by even a vote, the whole results should be cancelled or nullified.

That, he said, the EC did not just say but practicalised it by annulling some election results.

That testimony attracted an objection from lead counsel for the EC, Mr James Quashie-Idun, who argued that those were material facts not pleaded to by the petitioners to enable them to respond to that.

Mr Tony Lithur and Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, counsel for President Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), respectively, associated themselves with the objection.

Mr Addison said what the witness sought to do was to give an example of the places where the results were annulled as a result of over-voting.

That interjection forced the court to rise for a while to arrive at a decision.

After consultations, the nine-member court overruled the objection, which prompted Mr Quashie-Idun to hint of filing a supplementary affidavit to respond to those pieces of evidence.

Dr Bawumia said the EC annulled results in the Upper West Akyem Arabic Primary School and the Tano North Methodist Primary School Polling stations because of over-voting and that if those results had been considered, they would have affected the fortunes of the two major presidential candidates.

Regarding voting without verification, the witness said that had been a very critical issue in the election, for which a law was passed, after which the EC Chairman held a press conference to reiterate that results from polling stations where voting was done without biometric verification would be nullified.

He said 535,723 voters voted without biometric verification.

He said, for instance, that at the Bekwai Experimental JHS Polling Station, 294 of the 375 voters voted without biometric verification, while at 2,240 polling stations nationwide voters voted without biometric verification.

Dr Bawumia said 856,172 votes were annulled by the EC because of non-biometric verification and that the results at certain polling stations in the Gambaga-Nareligu Constituency were annulled because of voting without biometric verification.

“The EC cannot apply one set of rules to one polling station and apply another set of rules to another polling station. Therefore, we want an annulment of voting in all areas where there was voting without biometric verification, which gave candidate Mahama 49.16 per cent and Nana Addo Dankwa 49.34 per cent,” he said.

He said that in 1,739 polling stations, neither the presiding officers nor their agents signed the pink sheets but the results of 705,305 votes were validated and used when there were no signatures on the forms.

The witness gave, as an example, the Bepoase Community School Polling Station at Prestea where voting took place without the presiding officer signing the form and which gave candidate Mahama 49.52 per cent and Nana Ado Dankwa 49.96 per cent of the votes cast.

Those results, he said, they wanted annulled.

Regarding polling stations with the same serial and code numbers, the witness said their findings revealed that different polling stations had the same serial and code numbers and that there were 9,921 polling stations with such an anomaly on the pink sheets.

The total number of voters at those centres, he said, was 3,924,844, adding that the serial numbers were unique and could not be written like the code number.

Examples of that anomaly were recorded at the Temporary Booth at the Jemekope Polling Station and the EP Primary School Polling Station at Tsito, with the same serial number 0007977.

The witness said different polling stations were found to have the same code and that 35 of those polling stations were found, although statistically their impact on the results was insignificant.

One such area was the Juaso Court Polling Station where three sets of results for the same polling station had two different signatures for the presiding officer.

Dr Bawumia said of the 26,002 polling stations designated by the EC for the elections, 22 were found to be non-existent and that was insignificant, considering the results.

He said their analyses did not involve double counting, while each of the categories evaluated had its story to tell and that the violations occurred in multiples, since it was only in a few polling stations that one violation was recorded.

He said there were 24 categories which were mutually exclusive.

He said the names on the voters register were inconsistent with those on the pink sheets, while the voters register was bloated.

Dr Bawumia will continue with his evidence-in-chief today - Thursday.

Story: Stephen Sah