Counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, has pleaded the Supreme Court hearing the ongoing election petition not to entertain the line of cross examination being done by lead counsel for the petitioners, Mr Philip Addison.
Lead counsel for the petitioners in the ongoing election petition, Mr Philip Addison, Tuesday told the court that it did not matter how they (petitioners) obtained their evidence but the relevance of the evidence was what was of substance.
Mrs Abena Osei-Asare, who represents the people of Atiwa East in the Eastern Region, is one of the youngest MPs in the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic who is determined to work hard as a legislator to champion the hopes and aspirations of her constituents.
Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan goes back into the witness box to be cross-examined by lead counsel for the petitioners, Mr Philip Addison on Day 31 of the election petition hearing.
The Member of Parliament for Hohoe, Dr Mrs Bernice Adiku Heloo, has underscored the need for metropolitan, municipal and district Chief executives (MMDCEs) and members of Parliament to work in partnership for progress.
The Ashanti Region Representative on the Council of State, Nana Asiama Poku Afrifa 11, has reminded assembly members of their non-partisan role in society and charged them not to be influenced by party considerations when performing their roles.
Counsel for the petitioners in the ongoing election petition, Mr Philip Addison, Monday questioned the purpose for which the petitioners have brought the respondents before the highest court of jurisdiction to challenge results of the December 7, 2012 presidential votes won by President John Dramani Mahama.
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan Monday denied categorically that the New Patriotic Party were given a voters register different from the registers handed the National Democratic Congress for the 2012 elections.
We act as lawyers for the petitioners in the presidential petition currently before the Supreme Court.
We write particularly to protest the contents of your reportage of proceedings in Supreme Court on Wednesday, 5th June, and Thursday, June 6, 2013, which was carried in the June 6 and 7 edition of your paper.
Both reports were carried by your reporter Mabel Aku Baneseh. While we appreciate efforts by your newspaper to give an accurate and fair account of court proceedings in the presidential petition, we have had occasion to be concerned about some of the reports in your newspaper.
In these particular instances, it has become necessary to lodge an official complaint in the hope that our concerns will be addressed amicably without recourse to other options at our disposal.
You will notice that in the June 6 edition of your paper, under the heading “Afari-Gyan blocked’ at page 23 under the sub-heading ‘I am not a Registration Officer,’ your reporter devoted only one paragraph to the cross-examination of Afari-Gyan by lead counsel for petitioners.
Our complaint, however, is not so much the space given to the cross-examination, but the content of the report. We wish to put on record the fact that when Dr Afari-Gyan was confronted with Form IA, he, at once stage, said that the form was not used in the biometric verification registration exercise and that that was the form the Commission had been using for registration when there was no biometric registration.
It was after some probing by lead Counsel, Mr Phillip Addison, that he eventually admitted that it was the form that was filled in hand by the registration officer, capturing the data of the registrant.
Again, Dr Afari- Gyan made a very significant admission that day during cross-examination in respect of occasions when he would allow an omanhene of a town or a parliamentary candidate to vote even if he could not be verified biometrically as well as any prominent person who was well known and whose name was on the voters register.
He said he would do so if he were a presiding officer. This was a material admission, as it related to an important issue in controversy, namely whether or not every person who voted in the December 2012 presidential election was biometrically verified. We doubt that the significance of this admission was lost on your reporter, but she said absolutely nothing about this in her news report.
An even more significant admission by Dr Afari Gyan on that day during cross-examination by Mr Phillip Addison was that he had not seen a single pink sheet before he declared the results of the 2012 presidential election. This was after persistent attempts by the witness not to answer the question. Amazingly, your reporter refused, for reasons best known to herself, to carry this admission in her report.
Mr Editor, we might have allowed this to pass but for the content of reportage by the same reporter in your paper’s edition on Thursday, June 6, under the headline “Afari-Gyan admits double registration abroad.’ Here again, your reporter was economic with the truth of proceedings in court that day. According to your reporter, after Mr Addison got Dr Afari-Gyan to admit that five of the 51 persons registered abroad were double registration, the President of the panel of judges, Justice Atuguba, directed that Mr Addison should give the witness a composite list to go through while the court went on break.
That was all. Your reporter once more failed to report that when court resumed, Dr Afari Gyan admitted that out of the 51 names the petitioners claim had been duplicated, all but two, who were twins, had in fact been duplicated and that these went into the final register with which the 2012 general elections were conducted.
Again, your reporter reported that Mr Addison had said that the pink sheets from Temporary Booth Polling Station at Jinpenhi had 250, not 250 ballots, issued to that polling station and when Addison tried to cross-examine Dr Afari-Gyan on the said figure, Justice Baffoe-Bonnie noticed that the actual figure was 25 not 250 and asked Mr Addison to be candid with the court.
This is a clear misrepresentation of what happened in court. Mr Addison simply asked: What was the total number of ballot papers issued to the polling station? It was Dr Afari-Gyan who answered that they were 250. The impression created by the news report that it was Mr Addison who mentioned the figure 250 is rather unfortunate.
Daily Graphic is the leading daily newspaper in the country and is state-owned. We have no doubt that you are well aware of your peculiar responsibility under the Constitution of the Republic to afford fair opportunities and facilities for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions.
In the case of court proceedings, divergent views and dissenting opinions are the representations made by the different parties and their witnesses during evidence-in-chief and cross examination.
We expect that as one of the leading state-owned media, your constitutional duty in this regard should be without doubt, that is the need to provide fair, accurate and balance report of court proceedings.
This is in addition to your general duty under the law to ensure that your reportage of court proceedings is accurate, fair and devoid of misrepresentation and judgmental opinions.
We hope we would not have occasion to revisit this subject. Meanwhile, we wish Daily Graphic well in its efforts to ensure that the people of Ghana are accurately informed about proceedings in this historic petition.
Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co.
...And Editor replies
Clearly, when there are misrepresentations, we are under obligation to correct that impression in the minds of our readers. But even before the Constitution placed an injunction on us to carry mandatory rejoinders, we have been professional and credible and carried reactions from individuals, groups and institutions about whom reports have been carried.
We add again that as a human institution, we are not infallible but in many of the allegations being levelled against us, it is unfortunate that the petitioners did not read the June 6 and 7, 2013 reportage very well.
We invite our cherished readers to do a critique of those two publications in the face of the complaint of the petitioners (published on this page ) and if they have issues with us, they can also raise them. Perhaps, as is common in the Ghanaian society, the Daily Graphic has been pigeon-holed as a ‘government’ newspaper when the lawyers of the petitioners know that we are in a different dispensation now.
Nonetheless, it does not rest with any authority in this country to direct us or take our editorial judgement and independence from us as the rejoinder from the lawyers of the petitioners sought to do.
We are sure the petitioners and indeed all Ghanaians are appreciative of the efforts that journalists go through to summarise a six-hour sitting into a piece called news in the newspaper. It must be clear to the petitioners and all that our reportage is not a transcript of the court hearing.
We are also concerned about the fixation of the state-owned media. On the least opportunity, we are surprised that certain individuals are eager to remind us about our mandate as a state-owned media. We are very well aware of our mandate as a state-owned media.
The other day, on a certain radio station in Accra, some of the panellists counted and measured the pictures we had used on a court hearing on a particular page and concluded that we were biased. In journalism fairness, balance and accuracy do not require that we give equal space to all the parties.
Let us state again at least for the education of the uninitiated that the canons of journalism have not shifted the emphasis on professionalism depending on whether a publication is privately owned or state-owned. We are enjoined by the ethics of journalism to be professional and responsible.
Let the petitioners be assured that we shall not depart from the mandate to serve the society as professionally and responsibly as mandated by the constitution and the ethics of our profession.
We know the Constitution imposes a burden on us as a state-owned media. Largely because of our history, the framers of the constitution tried to avoid a repetition of the history when the state-owned media became a mouthpiece for government propaganda and were used by the government machinery to suppress dissenting voices. Be that as it may, we want to assure the petitioners not to entertain any idea of a deliberate attempt to distort or dilute the force of their argument in court.
We shall continue to report fairly and accurately on the petition hearing to the best of our knowledge. After all, the law is not in the bosom of the Daily Graphic. We can only present the issues to the bar of public opinion.
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The flag bearer of the Progressives People’s Party, Dr Papa
Kwesi Nduom, has explained that his silence since the December 2012 elections
is because he simply wants to be a peacemaker.
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, yesterday admitted at the Supreme Court that there had been double registration of some Ghanaians abroad during the registration exercise for the 2012 general election.
Former TESCON President of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Nana Boakye, has said the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) wants to divert attention from the current Supreme Court case.