Tempers rise again over pink sheets

BY: Samuel K. Obour

Dr Kwadwo Afari-GyanThe Supreme Court has instructed its registrar to liaise with international auditing firm, KPMG, which has been tasked to do a count of pink sheets in contention to find out when the firm will complete its work.

That would enable the court to incorporate that in its plans for the hearing of the ongoing presidential election petition.

The president of the court, Mr Justice William Atuguba, said at the close of yesterday’s proceedings, which was almost interrupted by the continued insistence by the respondents that until the final report of KPMG, it would not be fair for counsel for the petitioners to cross-examine on pink sheets.

The Pink Sheets

That issue cropped up during Tuesday’s sitting of the court, but resurfaced yesterday thus limiting Mr Phillip Addison’s continued cross-examination of the Electoral Commission (EC) Chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan.

Counsel for respondents’ resolve made Mr Addison, who is lead counsel for the petitioners to flare up using words, which the court found to be unsavory and asked that lawyers refrained from that practice to serve as a good example to other lawyers in order to maintain the standards in the highest court of the land.

After the back and forth arguments by counsel in the matter, Mr Justice Atuguba ruled that having heard them, one question that could settle the  matter was whether or not the count by KPMG was relevant?

 Mr Addison,  had given Dr Afari-Gyan a list of 905 polling station pink sheets which the EC boss had said were not signed by presiding officers, to identify, and which was opposed by the commission’s lead counsel, Mr James Quashie-Idun, on the grounds that the document was already in evidence before the court.

That was after the witness had indicated that he made those observations from the exhibits that were served on them by the petitioners and that he could make the document available next Monday.

Mr Quashie-Idun made available a copy of the document, but Mr Addison objected on the grounds that that was no longer being relied on by the respondents since they did not attach it to the affidavit of their amended answer.

After the back and forth arguments, Mr Addison agreed that a copy be made available on Monday.

The Legal Arguments

Serious arguments were generated when Mr Addison showed a copy of the final register that was generated from the soft copy that the commission had given to the petitioners for the purposes of the December, 2012 elections.

Dr Afari-Gyan indicated that apart from the soft copy the parties were also given a hard copy and that he needed to check on that from what was in their custody.

Then Mr Quashie-Idun intervened that the witness was being harassed because the commission had in its custody a copy of the voters’ register which it had to check 

When the dust settled, it was agreed that the document should be given to the witness so that he could make reference to it in his check, but again Mr Addison objected saying he did not trust the respondent one bit.

Mr Addison was taken on by the bench for those words, but he maintained that even more serious words had been used in the court without any reprimand from anybody.

Mr Justice Atuguba stated that from time to time attention had been drawn to some of those insinuations and the implication of what Mr Addison said was that the bench had overlooked those things.

He said that was not the case and that the court could deal with any lawyer by citing them for contempt, if they did not play the game according to the rules.

Another attempt by Mr Addison to ask further questions on another copy of the voters’ register was opposed by Mr Quashie-Idun, who said the document was not in evidence.

Errors on Pink Sheets

The witness was asked questions on some pink sheets on which some errors were made in entering the data of the election results, some of which Dr Afari-Gyan admitted as errors while denying others.

Dr Afari-Gyan disagreed that the commission refused to register some presidential aspirants for the December 2012 presidential elections because they did not satisfy the signature requirements on their nomination forms.

The witness said that could be one of the reasons for the refusal and that they did not meet the requirement that they got two supporters from each constituency to sign the forms.

Asked whether signature was very important on the nomination form, the witness replied that if one did not have the signatures, the commission would not disqualify him or her.

Before the lunch break, proceedings had been characterised by objections and arguments.

Declaration of Results

Mr Addison asked the witness whether the presidential declaration by him would have been done if he had not signed the declaration and in response the witness said no.

The witness did not agree that even where written complaints were lodged by polling agents the results were declared.

When Mr Addison gave a pink sheet to counsel for the commission for onward transmission to the witness, counsel for the commission objected, saying that the document referred to a different polling station and not the one indicated by the petitioners.

Counsel for both President Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) entered the fray indicating that the respondents had never been served with that pink sheet.

At that stage, Mr Addison said the respondents’ counsel were making it difficult for the petitioners to conduct their case, because of their claim they had not been served with certain documents and which they had refused to declare.

‘’This is unfair. They have refused to disclose what have not been served on them except to object that they had not been served’’, counsel said.

But Mr Tony Lithur said in reply that “this is not our problem but their problem. They should not shift the blame on us.”

Interventions by the judges

Following the arguments which ensued, Mr Justice Sulley Gbadegbe urged the lawyers to be mindful that they were in the highest court of the land and they ought to do the right thing to be emulated by other lawyers. 

The court took a break to allow counsel to sort out the issue and on resumption the bench found out from them whether they had made any headway regarding the non-contentious pink sheets.

Mr Addison replied that of the list of 30 pink sheets which were presented on Tuesday, 26 had been sorted out.

Ms Justice Sophia Adinyira then asked what followed next, but Mr Addison replied they would take directions from the court.

The arguments reverted to the number of pink sheets that had been filed by petitioners  and the refusal by respondents to disclose how many they had in their custody and the need to await the final report of KPMG.

Hearing continues.