14 January 2013

Ghana: Prez Mahama to Call 4,800 Witnesses to State His Case in Election Petition

President John Dramani Mahama has filed his response to a petition by three personalities of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) challenging his election as President in the December 7, 2012 presidential election and indicated his intention to call 4,800 witnesses to state his case.

In a 15-page response, President Mahama has accused the presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, and the Chairman of the NPP, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, who are contesting his election of "seeking to subvert the Constitution and undermine the sovereign will of the people of Ghana by demanding from the Honourable Court an order annulling the results of the exercise of their fundamental rights under the Constitution".

The President, in a response filed at the Registry of the Supreme Court at 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 12, 2013, said he "shall require from the petitioners particulars of the polling stations, constituencies and regions where pink sheets from different polling stations allegedly had the same serial numbers and the votes allegedly affected in each case".

"The petitioners' allegations are brazen attempts to find excuses for losing the 2012 presidential election," he said.

The response filed on behalf of the President by his lawyer, Mr Tony Lithur, said, "The whole petition lacks merit and should be dismissed."

An affidavit in verification deposed to on behalf of the President by Mr Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, the Campaign Co-ordinator of the President's 2012 campaign team, said the President "demands from the petitioners particulars of names of persons who allegedly illegally padded and/or unlawfully reduced the votes, the polling stations, constituencies and regions where the alleged acts occurred and the votes affected in each such polling station, constituency and region".

The affidavit further demanded from the petitioners particulars of the alleged over-voting, the names of polling stations, constituencies and regions in which the alleged over-voting occurred, as well as the "amount of alleged over-voting in each case".

According to the response, it was acknowledged by all observers, domestic as well as international, that the conduct of the elections had been generally free and fair, as well as transparent.

It further stated that the argument that "there were some veiled reasons" for the difference between 13,917,366 and the final number of registered voters smacked of utmost "bad faith".

Responding to claims by the petitioners that the EC delayed in furnishing the NPP with the final voters register, it said "the NDC received both registers at the same time as the NPP and all other political parties".

"Therefore, whatever disadvantages may have been attendant upon the alleged late delivery of the electoral register affected all the other political parties equally," it said.

In reply to claims by the petitioners that the results declared for the presidential election exceeded those declared for the parliamentary elections by 127,210 votes, the President said to the best of his knowledge and belief, "a common register was used for both the presidential and parliamentary elections" and, accordingly described the petitioners' allegations as "clearly false and disingenuous".

On allegations of voters being allowed to vote without verification, the President demanded from the petitioners "names of the polling stations involved in the alleged practice of voting without biometric fingerprint verification and the number of persons who allegedly voted in each such polling station without biometric fingerprint verification, as well as the constituencies and regions under which such polling stations fall".

In any case, the President stated that "quite apart from fingerprint verification, there are other methods of verification permissible under the law. Failure (if at all) by eligible voters to undergo fingerprint verification, through no fault of theirs, can, therefore, not form the basis for depriving such voters their fundamental rights under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution".

The President denied allegations that some persons who had not undergone biometric registration were allowed to vote.

Rather, he argued that to the best of his knowledge and information, only voters who had undergone biometric registration voted during the elections.

He further demanded from the petitioners "particulars, among others, of the polling stations at which persons who had not undergone biometric registration allegedly voted and the number of voters involved in each polling station, constituency and region".

The affidavit in support said Nana Akufo-Addo ought to have had polling and/or counting agents at the various polling stations who were part of the prescribed voter identification processes prior to voting.

"The said polling and/or counting agents, having participated in that process and having, after public and transparent counting and/or collation, certified the results of the polling stations and/or constituencies by signing without protest the polling returns, had thereby represented to the whole world that the declared results accurately reflected the outcome of the election in the respective polling stations and/or constituencies," he said.

He expected the petitioners to provide particulars of the polling stations, constituencies and regions in which "different results were strangely recorded on the declaration forms in respect of polling stations bearing the same polling station codes", as well as the number of votes allegedly affected at each polling station.

Making further requests, the President said he expected the petitioners to provide particulars of the polling stations, constituencies and regions in which the allegations of the absence of signatures of EC officers occurred, together with the recorded votes at each polling station, constituency and region.

Responding to the petitioners call for the annulment of votes from 4,709 polling stations, the President said such demand "constitutes an attempt to undermine the fundamental rights of Ghanaians under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution and should be rejected by the Honourable Court as completely lacking any basis in law and/or fact".

He further urged the petitioners to provide particulars of the exact nature of the alleged irregularities and/or malpractices, the names of the 4,709 polling stations in which they occurred, as well as the number of affected voters in each polling station.

According to the President, the results of the election were publicly declared at the various polling stations and constituencies and were matters of public knowledge, adding that "the results were the product of painstaking, public and transparent sorting and counting and/or collation (and sometimes re-counting) at the various polling stations and collation centres, with the full participation of petitioners' accredited polling and/or counting agents and those of other contesting political parties who certified such results by appending signatures to the declaration forms".

On allegations that all irregularities and electoral malpractice were a deliberate, well-calculated and executed ploy to unlawfully assist the President to win the elections, the President denied that assertion and stated that he demanded from the petitioners "particulars of the alleged ploy or contrivance, the manner in which they were executed and the names of persons involved therein".

He said the attack on Superlock Technologies Limited (STL) for allegedly harbouring him and intercepting faxed results of the elections was "one of the many instances of wanton violence and destruction by NPP supporters which characterised the election and the period after the declaration of the results" and further challenged them to prove the allegations.

"Respondent is also unaware of the manner in which results properly certified by the duly accredited representatives of all the contesting candidates at their respective collation centres were tampered with and shall demand from the petitioners particulars of how such a result could be achieved," the affidavit pointed out.

It, however, stated that those "allegations are, anyhow, not relevant to the outcome of the present petition and first respondent intends to apply for the said paragraphs to be struck out as scandalous and an attempt to prejudice a fair trial and an abuse of the court's process".

The President further intends to cite reported cases, including Tehn Addy v Electoral Commission [1996-97] SCGLR 589; Apaloo v Electoral Commission [1996-97] SCGLR 253; Election of the First President, In Re: Appiah v Attorney-General [1969] 2G&G 530; Tuffuor v Attorney-General (1980) GLR 637; Fenuku v John Teye [2001-2002] SCGLR 985 and Re Agyepong (Decd): Poku v Abosi and Another [1982-83] 2GLR 475 to maintain his innocence.

The President also plans to rely on the 1992 Constitution and other statutes, including: The Presidential Elections Act, 1992, PNDCL 285; The Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2012, (CI 72); The Public Elections Regulations, 2012, CI 75; The Supreme Court Amendment Rules, 2012, (CI 74) and The Evidence Act, 1975 (NRCD 323) and seven reported legal cases to affirm his position that he was the truly elected candidate in the December 7, 2012 presidential election.

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