Election dispute hearing: Dr Bawumia opens petitioners’ case
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, running mate to Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the December 2012 elections, took the witness box on Wednesday in the on-going petition case at the Supreme Court in Accra.
Dr Bawumia, who was led in evidence by Mr Philip Addison, lead Counsel for the petitioners, said the petitioners were in court to challenge the declaration by the Electoral Commission (EC) that President John Mahama won the December 2012 elections.
He said the declaration made by the Electoral Commission in the 2012 elections could not be supported by the primary evidence he had gathered.
He said after the December polls Nana Akuffo-Addo formed a committee headed by he Dr Bawumia to investigate alleged irregularities in the elections.
. Dr Bawumia said the committee had found numerous irregularities on statement of polls and declaration of results documents known as ‘pink sheets’.
He said during their examination and analysis they found many malpractices and statutory violations and irregularities as evidenced in the pink sheets at some polling stations.
He said the committee examined about 24,000 pinks sheets and found several irregularities, including cases of over voting, voting without biometric verification, and presiding officers not signing before the declaration of results, among others.
Dr Bawumia further explained that the issue of over-voting comes in two forms. Over voting would arise if the total votes in the ballot box exceeds the total number of persons on the voters’ register at a particular polling station. Similarly, if the number of votes in the ballot box is far in excess of the number of ballot paers issued out to voters.
He said the EC chairman had stated before polls that if the number of ballot papers issued out was exceeded by even one vote, the results of the polling station involved would be annulled.
He said the EC chairman made this statement for a good reason and also went on to say that no verification no vote.
Dr Bawumia at that juncture decided to lead material evidence on the matter he had been talking about.
However, Mr James Quarshie Idun, Counsel for the EC, raised an objection that the example Dr Bawumia was about to cite was not included in the petitioners’ material facts.
He explained that the material facts Dr Bawumia was about to lead in evidence were not pleaded in the petition and therefore urged the Court to stop the witness from going ahead with it.
Mr Tony Lithur, Counsel for President Mahama also supported the objection, explaining that material facts could not be ‘sneaked in’.
Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, Counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) agreed with the objection, saying this was a basic principle and so witness should not be allowed.
Mr Addison, however, disagreed explaining that the witness was just giving “an example of over-voting”.
After going on a recess, however, the court overruled the objection by Mr Idun and allowed Dr Bawumia to continue with his evidence.
When asked by Mr Addison whether the alleged irregularities had any effect on the outcome of the election result, Dr Bawumia responded that if the result of the over-voting in the1,826 polling stations identified were annulled by the EC, none of the presidential candidates would obtain the 50 per cent plus one mark.
He said the law which governed the 2012 elections required every voter to go through a biometric verification process for authentication.
He said two days before the election, the EC chairman made it clear that voters who did not pass through biometric verification would have their votes cancelled.
Dr Bawumia said their investigation found that over 535,723 people voted without verification and that the over all result of the polls would be substantially affected if the votes without biometric verification were to be annulled.
Dr Bawumia said there were 1,039 polling stations which did not have the signatures of the presiding officers, which amounted to a total of 705,305 votes, contrary to the law set out by the EC before the election.
He said if those votes were annulled none of the two leading candidates would secure a first round victory.
Dr Bawumia also said 9,921 polling stations had the same serial numbers, and that the total number of votes in these polling stations stood at 3,924,824.
He said under normal circumstances each pink sheet had an exclusive serial number embossed on it for each polling station. Therefore, there must not be a situation where different polling stations shared the same serial number, he maintained, adding that this was however not the case witnessed in the December 2012 elections.
He said on the surface this anomaly might look innocuous but upon further examination it appeared it was a vehicle used to alter the results in favour of the first respondent.
Dr Bawumia stated that the figures provided by the EC as the total figure for the voters register kept changing and later provided a total register of 14,301,680 before the election.
He said on the day the EC Chairman declared the results of the election, he gave a figure of 14,158,890, a difference of 127,210 from the one he had earlier provided.
He said when the NPP asked for an explanation from the EC, it stated that initially the figure was 13,917,366 but after registration of foreign voters the figure rose to 14,158,890, a difference of 241,554.
He said later when his party demanded the bio-data of the foreign voters from the EC the data they received indicated “fake voter ID numbers and a mathematical formula where the same names had different numbers running through”.
When asked by Mr Addison if NPP polling agents were present at the various polling stations where those anomalies had occurred and whether or not they had signed the copies of the pink sheets to authenticate the proceedings at the polling station, Dr Bawumia said NPP polling agents were present at all the polling stations and that majority of them signed the pink sheets while others did not.
He further stated, however, that the presence or absence of polling agents and whether or not they signed the pink sheets was no basis for the kind of irregularity and malpractices that took place at the various polling stations during the elections.
Hearing of the case was adjourned to tomorrow, Thursday, April 18. GNA