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Court blocks Tsatsu's attempt to introduce 50 pink sheets

BY: Samuel K. Obour

President of the court, Mr Justice William Atuguba

Counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, yesterday had a hectic time during his cross-examination of the star witness of the petitioners, as the Supreme Court forced him to abandon a pile of pink sheets he intended to have identified.

The court had refused an application by Mr Phillip Addison, lead counsel for the petitioners, that all questions and answers relating to the identification of the pink sheet from a polling station at Asokwa in the Ashanti 

Region be expunged from the records.

According to Mr Addison, it was from those questions and answers that he had raised an objection on Tuesday, that the witness could not be allowed to identify that pink sheet because it was not part of the case before the court.

In refusing the application at the on-going hearing of the petition against the December 2012 presidential results, the President of the court, Mr Justice William Atuguba, explained that what the court had said regarding its ruling on the matter was that after that sample pink sheet had been identified, all subsequent questions by Mr Tsikata should be rolled and for that reason he did not see what Mr Addison was talking about.

Mr Tsikata then began by bringing out another pink sheet in the category of the earlier one on which the court had ruled on Tuesday, but Mr Addison again objected, saying that what was being done meant a new pink sheet was being unleashed on the court.

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That made Justice Atuguba explain that the issue had been dealt with in the court’s ruling.

But Mr Tsikata persisted that what he intended to do was to bring out a list of 50 pink sheets to be identified by the witness because lawyers for the petitioners had declined to go through the list with him.

Ms Justice Sophia Adinyira then asked the NDC lawyer whether he had been asked by the court to prepare any list, to which Mr Tsikata replied in the negative.

She then asked Mr Tsikata to read the court’s order again.

Justice Atuguba emphasised that what was being sought to be done was irrelevant, but Mr Tsikata stated that his understanding of the ruling was that he should have a composite question in respect of the other lists and that they might be able to ask questions on those other pink sheets.

When Mr Tsikata asked that he be allowed to bring those pink sheets in batches of 50, Justice Atuguba ruled him out and upheld the objection and urged that only composite questions would be entertained.

But as the cross-examination continued, Mr Tsikata seemed to be repeating himself and he was again reminded to comply with the order of the court.

Later, things fell into their rightful place when Mr Tsikata, who said he was confused over the matter, asked that the court repeat its ruling, which was done.

Tsatsu Tsikata, Counsel for third respondent

Both Mr Tsikata and Dr Bawumia backtracked and reverted to their old ways of doings things, which compelled the President of the court to remind the witness that he had now matured into an adult witness and so he should move away from the way he had answered some questions previously.

The witness agreed with counsel that for every pink sheet given to polling stations they followed a range of serial numbers but disagreed that that was the issue and not the numbers on the pink sheets.

Dr Bawumia further disagreed that the primary record of the election was the receipt provided by the presiding officer, which was the pink sheet.

He further disagreed with counsel that in putting together the categories of irregularities, he had been wrong in many cases and also double counted in respect of the allegations.

According to the witness, there was absolutely no way that a single pink sheet could have been counted more than once in their analysis.

When Mr Tsikata asked the witness what was to be done if there was a discrepancy between the words and figures on the face of a bank cheque, Dr Bawumia explained that in that case the cheque would be annulled.

Dr Bawumia said the petition was contesting the results declared in favour of both President Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo because of the irregularities identified.

He agreed that it was sometimes difficult reading some of the things that had been written on the pink sheets because of the use of carbon paper.

A question by Mr Tsikata that intended to solicit a response affecting a committee set up to investigate the irregularities was opposed to by Mr Addison, whose objection was sustained.

The witness said he did identify the exhibits which were attached to allegations of over-voting and had read briefs by the Electoral Commission (EC) that even when an election result was exceeded by one vote, it was over-voting and ought to be annulled.

Asked why they were seeking only 28 per cent of the votes declared for Nana Akufo-Addo to be annulled, the witness explained that it was because the irregularities in favour of President Mahama were very high.

When Mr Tsikata suggested to the witness that he was selective in seeking the annulment of votes in areas where President Mahama won exclusively, Mr Addison objected on the grounds that the question had been asked already and, therefore, was repetitive.

That generated heated arguments, during which Mr Tsikata said the question arose from the line of cross-examination that he was following, saying the objection was prejudicial.

Responding, Justice Atuguba ruled that as far as he could recall, that question had been asked when the issue of identifying pink sheets came up and jovially said that the returning officer (referring to Mr Addison) had ruled on the matter.

Mr Tsikata argued that the question he asked related to over-voting, but Justice Atuguba said he court took the view that counsel was going to go about the identification of pink sheets in a piece-meal fashion.

However, he said if there were other areas of irregularities, apart from those that had been outlined by Mr Tsikata, then he could not go because the court was not  prepared to review its order in that respect.

Ms Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo went to Mr Tsikata’s aid and said he could go ahead without having to let the witness identify any pink sheets.

When at a point Mr Tsikata suggested to the witness that he had not been honest in examining the 24,000 pink sheets on which irregularities were alleged, Mr Addison objected and said he was not happy about counsel describing the witness as ‘dishonest’.

The President of the court urged the parties to try to be impersonal but professional.

 Mr Addison then said he had constantly reminded the court about the words used by Mr Tsikata and that he (Addison) was capable of using those same words.

When Mr Tsikata tried to explain further, he was rebuked by Justice Atuguba not to enter that terrain, saying, “Personally, I find it difficult to follow the battle you are fighting.”

Justice Atuguba said from then on if anybody used language which was unprofessional, the court would ask that it be withdrawn.

The witness, in response to a suggestion that the basis on which he was seeking an annulment of the results was selective because of his personal interest, said  the petitioners were fighting for the future democracy of the country, the backbone of which was an election with integrity.

Hearing continues today.

Story: Stephen Sah