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Thursday, April 18, 2013

EC Admits To Errors But...

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Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia on Wednesday took the witness stand and for more than four hours explained the Petitioners case in the ongoing Presidential Election Petition and why the rightful winner of the 2012 December elections should have been Nana Akufo-Addo.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Vice-Presidential candidate for the 2012 elections who was led in evidence by lead counsel for the petitioners, Philip Addison, took his time in breaking down the irregularities discovered on the face of the Pink Sheets which is the only official record of the conduct and outcome of the elections at the polling stations.

The evidence of Dr. Bawumia, who is the second petitioner, began by taking the court through the Statement of Poll and Declaration of Results Form (Pink Sheets) and explaining its various sections and what they are meant to achieve.

He mentioned that the purpose of the various sections on the Pink Sheet was to ensure the credibility and integrity of the polls and that the sections of the Pink Sheet ideally should be internally consistent.

Touching on the irregularities discovered in the analysis of the Pink Sheets, Dr. Bawumia stated that there were six categories of constitutional, statutory violations, irregularities and malpractices found. He named these as over-voting, voting without biometric verification, the absence of the signatures of presiding officers or their assistants on the Pink Sheets, the use of Duplicate serial numbers on the Pink Sheets, the use of same polling station codes for different polling station results and unknown polling stations where voting was conducted.


On over-voting, Dr. Bawumia identified the two forms of over-voting. The first form of over-voting, according to Dr Bawumia, is where the total votes in the ballot box exceed the ballots issued to voters at a particular polling station while the second form is where the total votes in the ballot box exceed the total number of registered voters at the particular polling station.

The Economist, who also headed the team set up by the NPP to look into the irregularities which affected the December 7th elections, informed the court that they had discovered a total of 1,826 polling stations where over-voting took place with total votes at those polling stations being 791,423. He asked the court to annul these votes because they had been tainted by over-voting which was a statutory and constitutional violation and which undermined the one man one vote principle underlying our democracy bringing the integrity of the elections into doubt at those polling stations.

Dr. Bawumia also stated that on its own, should the court grant the petitioners request to annul the results from polling stations whose pink sheets were not signed by the Presiding officers or their deputies, John Mahama would be at 49.52% while Nana Akufo-Addo would be at 48.96% while annulling only polling stations affected by Duplicate serial numbers would mean that the results of the elections would be completely overturned with Nana Akufo-Addo securing 56.65% and John Mahama securing 41.96%.

The NPP Vice-Presidential candidate informed the court that indeed the Electoral commissioner prior to the December elections stated clearly that polling stations which were affected by over-voting and where voting without biometric verification took place would be annulled and that in fact the EC annulled certain polling stations because they were affected by the two irregularities.

On stating the information on annulments by the electoral commission due to over-voting and voting without biometric verification, counsel for the electoral commission, Quashie-Idun supported by the lawyers of John Mahama and the NDC, raised an objection and requested the court to strike out the statements which were also contained in the affidavit of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia as it had not been pleaded in the petition of the plaintiffs. The Court after a 25 minute break dismissed the objection raised by the counsel to the EC.


Rattling out numerous figures to establish the NPP’s case, Dr. Bawumia indicated that from the various Pink sheets analyzed, it had been discovered that voting without biometric verification occurred in 2,240 Polling stations. He informed the court that all the analysis proved that 535,723 Ghanaians in these 2,240 polling stations were allowed to vote without successfully going through biometric verification as was legally required. He mentioned that the total tainted votes in these polling stations amounted to 856,172 votes which the petitioners were praying the courts to annul.


On the absence of the signatures of Presiding officers or their deputies from Pink sheets as is legally required to validate the results of the elections before declaration at the polling station level, the Vice-Presidential candidate to Nana Akufo-Addo revealed that they had discovered 1,739 polling stations which were affected by this particular constitutional and statutory violation and irregularity. He added that the total votes in these 1,739 polling stations affected by this irregularity came up to 705, 305 votes.


Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia indicated that the fourth irregularity identified on the Pink Sheets was the use of duplicate serial numbers on 9,921 polling station pink sheets. He told the court that the serial numbers on the pink sheets were like serial numbers on cheques, passports etc. which were meant to be a security feature and make it possible to uniquely identify each polling station. He noted that the serial number on the pink sheets was the only identification feature on the sheets which came already embossed and that the name and polling station codes which were the other identifiers were handwritten.

The NPP running mate said that the total votes from the 9,921 polling stations with duplicate serial numbers amounted to 3,924,844 votes.

Dr. Bawumia indicated from their analysis that it was very clear that the phenomenon of same serial numbers on different pink sheets was the vehicle for perpetrating the other constitutional, statutory violations, irregularities and malpractices.

Churning out the various figures off the top of his head, he stated that 75% of polling stations where over voting took place were polling stations with duplicate serial number pink sheets. Similarly, he said that 77% of the polling stations where voting without biometric verification was recorded to have taken place were polling stations with duplicate serial numbers on their pink sheets. Again, he said that 75% of the polling stations which were not validated by their presiding officers or their deputies were also discovered to be polling stations with duplicate serial numbers while 85% of all polling stations where same polling station codes were used was also affected by the phenomenon of duplicate serial numbers.

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia indicated that over 99% of all the polling stations where petitioners are seeking the courts to annul were affected by these four irregularities which make a material impact on the declared results.

Asked what his response was to the fact that NPP Polling agents signed the pink sheets, Dr. Bawumia stated that it was true that most of the pink sheets were signed by NPP Polling Agents but that the signatures of the agents could not validate the irregularities and illegalities.

“My Lords again, our polling agents by signing attested to the facts recorded on the pink sheets including the irregularities. They did not sign that the elections were free and fair, they signed attesting to it that indeed what is contained on the pink sheets is correct and did happen”, he added.

Again he maintained that holding the elections and counting the ballots in public as was done cannot validate the invalid votes which are tainted because of the irregularities identified.

After answering to various responses from the EC which claims the irregularities identified on the face of the pink sheets were errors and also that the final voter’s register figure of 14,158,890 used for declaring the elections on December 9th was an error, Dr. Bawumia said “it seems every irregularity and everything else is an error except the declaration”.

On whether double counting affected the analysis as had been claimed by the NDC and John Mahama, Dr. Bawumia took the court through an elaborate explanation on how double counting was avoided. He noted that because the irregularities occurred in multiples, the analysis had to identify 24 unique categories of the irregularities and their combinations to ensure that no polling station was counted twice.

Before Dr. Bawumia took the witness stand, the registrar for the court had informed the court that the petitioners had been served with 139 affidavits out of the 7,100 affidavits filed by the 1st and 3rd respondents.

Lead counsel for the petitioners, Philip Addison noted that the affidavits they had received were very similar to the 320 joinder application affidavits received earlier in the course of the case with the same format and pleadings. The only differences in the affidavits according to Lawyer Addison was the names and polling stations.

Counsel for the petitioners latter in the day asked the court to take judicial notice of incidents in savelugu where officers of the Electoral commission admitted to getting unsigned pink sheets signed almost two months after elections.

Dr. Bawumia also spoke about the voters’ register used for the general elections. He stated that the EC had initially presented a voters’ register of 14,031,680 to the NPP as the final voters’ register. However, he noted that in declaring the results, the EC had used 14,158,890 as the voters’ register and also posted a voters’ register of 14,031,793 on its website as the final voters’ register.

He said these inconsistencies in the voters’ register figures were compounded by the fact that an analysis of the voters’ register indicated on the face of the Pink Sheets in section ‘B1’ shows that the voters’ register operationalised on election day at the polling stations being challenged were about a million higher than the numbers in the voters’ register of 14,031,680 given to the political parties prior to the elections.

On the foreign voters’ register, the NPP Vice-Presidential candidate said that though the EC had indicated in its response to an interlocutory filed by the petitioners that it registered 241,524 abroad, it had only been able to provide a list of 705 and that an analysis of the 705 list had shown 51 multiple names to a total of 102 and fake identities which had the same identities – name, age, location, polling station assigned but different ID numbers. More worrying, he disclosed was that these multiple identities were placed far apart from ostensibly to make detection harder and that the ID numbers also had a unique pattern.

Dr. Bawumia informed the court that the EC had still failed to provide the 241,524 Ghanaians registered abroad.

In one of the last highlights for the day, Dr. Bawumia in responding to the ECs reliance on observer reports on the December elections, said that the observer reports were irrelevant to the matter before the court, a statement which was also affirmed by Justice Gbadegbe who said that whatever the observers said does not affect the issues the court is seeking to determine, which are whether they were irregularities and whether those irregularities if any, affected the outcome of the elections.
Source: Communications Directorate, NPP/Ghana

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