Asiedu Nketia hears own voice in court; Afari Gyan enters box today

BY: Samuel K. Obour

Asiedu NketiaDrama ensued at the hearing of the ongoing election petition at the Supreme Court yesterday when a recording of an interview granted Citi FM, an Accra-based radio station, by Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the star witness for the President and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), was played to him.

Mr Nketia’s somehow impressive form in his evidence so far was dimmed by that interview in which he seemed to have contradicted his evidence in court.

In the interview, Nketia went into details about the “no verification, no vote” mantra, saying that there was no way people would vote without verification. 

He pointed out in the interview that there was no evidence that people voted without verification during the 2012 general election and challenged people to come out and prove instances at polling stations where people voted without verification.

He said if that evidence was made available, the results of those polling stations should be cancelled, pointing out that “people who presided over voting without verification should be jailed”.

Those revelations came up during the last day of Mr Nketia’s cross-examination by Mr Phillip Addison, lead counsel for the petitioners.

The witness’ last day in the witness box was occasioned by grilling, flared tempers and some controversy.

During the cross-examination, Mr Addison was this time round hard on the witness and pressed him to answer questions that were put to him.

When Mr Nketia was confronted with a question as to whether he recalled granting an interview to Citi FM in which he was said to have stated, among other things, that “where there was no verification, no voter should be allowed to vote”, the witness replied he did not recall.

However, he said when his voice was played back to him he could recall what he had said during that interview.

With the permission of the court, a recording of the radio interview was played to the witness in which he seemed to have contradicted himself by saying something different from what he had said in court.

Mr Nketia identified the voice as his and said he had repeated everything he had said in the tape in court. 

When confronted with the issue of the annulment of results, the witness denied ever making that statement and asked that the tape be played again for counsel to satisfy himself.

The witness had had his day answering questions the way he liked and counsel, on one occasion, had to tell the bench that the witness was not answering the questions put to him.

At some point, Mr Nketia was dazzled by the questions and had to ask for them to be repeated. He was in his elements as he engaged in his usual antics of arms movement and smiles.

Mr Addison started his further cross-examination by handing over a pink sheet to the witness to identify the serial number.

After obliging, the witness did indicate that although the number was the only one that had been embossed on the sheet, he could not call it a serial number.

The witness said apart from the numbers embossed on the pink sheet, all other numbers were handwritten.

Mr Nketia disagreed that the serial number was for security reasons and that during a training programme that the Electoral Commission organised for  the various political party agents, they were told about the security features, which included the serial number.

The witness said categorically that pink sheets did not have serial numbers, while deposit slips also did not have serial numbers.

He said he remembered that special voting took place in about 40 polling stations throughout the country.

According to the witness, the special voting took place at all the polling stations except where, for one reason or another, a polling station had to be relocated for the purpose of special voting.

He disagreed with counsel that polling stations had code numbers.

He also disagreed that there were constituencies where special voting did not take place, while in some of the constituencies there were more than one special voting centre.

When the witness was given a list containing the names of special voting centres to identify, he said he could not do that because the document had not been titled.

In a follow-up question as to whether he had not come across the list of special voting centres, Mr Nketia replied that he had never dealt with it.

The witness intimated that he did not know about any such list and that he could not carry a list of names in his head, adding that he could not remember all.

Counsel then pressed the witness to mention some of the names that he knew and the witness mentioned the Juaso Court Hall Polling Station as one such centre where special voting took place.

That was, however, rejected by counsel, amidst laughter from the audience in the courtroom.

Mr Tsikata rose to object, on the grounds that the list had not been identified or tendered, for which reason questions could not be asked on it.

Mr Addison replied that he was in the process of identifying the list and all he was doing was to assist the witness to refresh his memory, but that did not find favour with the bench.

The witness admitted that the EC supplied the NDC with the list of polling stations for special voting but he could not tell whether the one given to him by counsel was the proper list.

The witness identified a collation form from the Akuapim South Constituency and indicated that he was familiar with collation forms.

However, Mr Tsikata again objected to that line of cross-examination, saying the witness could not tender a document of that nature, since the form was produced by the EC.

Mr Tsikata further argued that there had not been any reference to that in any of the petitioners’ pleadings or exhibits to respondents’ affidavit before the court.

Mr Addison responded that the witness had given evidence as to what went into collation forms and he had been given one, which he identified without any problem, and that what counsel was seeking to do was to contradict that evidence.

The court, by a 5-4 majority, sustained the objection.

Counsel asked the witness whether he had been able to bring to court the list of further and better particulars, but Mr Nketia replied that he was unable to do that because his team of lawyers had some difficulty with that.

When counsel gave out a copy of the further and better particulars, the witness identified it and when it got to his lawyers to do same, Mr Tony Lithur flared up and threw away the document, generating disagreement from the audience.

Mr Addison then reminded the court that it was Mr Lithur who had said that the court should be respected but his behaviour was nothing to write home about.

Mr Lithur replied that the further and better particulars were in volumes and not just a single document.

Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie told Mr Lithur that his behaviour was not friendly to the court and that it was he (Mr Lithur) who had told his witness to respond, “Yes, My Lords’’, anytime he answered a question.

According to the judge, Mr Lithur’s behaviour was an affront to the court and that he should know when to interject.

Mr Lithur did the honourable thing by apologising.

When the dust settled, Mr William Atuguba stated, albeit jokingly, that jettisoning cargo was not something to be done at the bar but on the high seas.

The lawyers for the respondents then took a look at the document, after which Mr Addison asked the witness to read its title, which Mr Nketia did.

Mr Tsikata objected to counsel asking questions based on the document because the further and better particulars were part of the court’s records and so there was no need to ask questions on them, especially when the witness could not vouch for the authenticity of the document.

Mr Addison had asked the witness that in the further and better particulars, the petitioners supplied the respondents with information on 11,842 polling stations, while respondents also contended that they received data on 8,621 polling stations.

Mr Justice Victor Jones Dotse said when the issue of inadequacy of pink sheets arose for the first time, the respondents said they received pink sheets not in excess of 8,000 and at that stage counsel drew the court’s attention to the further and better particulars.

He told counsel that if his intention was not to tender the document, then he knew when to use it.

Mr Addison said his question had nothing to do with the work of KPMG, the international accounting firm.

The court ruled that questions could be asked without asking the witness to refer to the further and better particulars.

The witness disagreed that the petitioners supplied the respondents with 11,842 pink sheets.

He could not confirm that 1,270 of their exhibits were duplicated and also that 291 were not in the list of 11,842 provided by the petitioners.

Mr Nketia was then taken through a series of questions relating to whether or not the names and code numbers of some polling stations provided by respondents were not in the list provided by the EC.

He said the petitioners did not involve the polling stations in the strongholds of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in their analysis of the pink sheets and that just about 20,000 were included when more than four million votes were in contention for annulment.

Mr Nketia said during the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting all the political parties agreed that voting was going to be on the basis of “no verification, no vote’’ and that should the verification devices fail, the election should be postponed.

He said the electoral laws were not made by the EC at press conferences and that the NDC’s attention was drawn to the fact that certain results had been annulled.

Mr Quashie-Idun did a brief cross-examination after his initial lines were objected to by Mr Addison, who said counsel was not cross-examining but doing a re-examination based on his (Mr Addison’s) cross-examination.

The court ruled that Mr Quashie-Idun was at liberty to cross-examine but not re-examine the witness.

The EC will take its turn to testify today. 

The baton has shifted to the commission following the closure of the case for both President Mahama and the NDC.

It is not clear which of the EC’s officials will mount the witness box, although its Chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has been present in court since the hearing began.

Story: Stephen Sah