Saturday, August 24, 2013
Item Two: The Petitioners’ Allegations in Perspective
Folks, we now turn attention to the substance of the petition that was laid before the Supreme Court by the petitioners to prove why it is not only couched in “bad faith” but also why the Supreme Court won’t uphold it. We need to backtrack to the very issues that informed the petition hearing. The petitioners initially laid before the Supreme Court a litany of allegations that they deemed to have compromised Election 2012 in favour of President Mahama.
According to their petition, the allegations included vote rigging, particularly the padding of votes to boost President Mahama’s standing; stealing of Akufo-Addo’s votes for President Mahama; collusion between the Electoral Commission, President Mahama and the NDC to rig the elections through manipulation of the electoral process; and many more. Based on these allegations, they organized a number of public forums, backed by their sub-groups (the “Let My Vote Count Alliance”, the Young Patriots, etc.) to mount incessant personal attacks on President Mahama and Dr. Afari Gyan.
They called President Mahama a thief (“julor” in Ga) and Kennedy Agyapong particularly labelled Dr. Afari Gyan as the “devil” and appealed to God to strike him dead for stealing the elections for President Mahama.
Then, when the Supreme Court couldn’t get the petitioners and the respondents to determine what particularly it should hear, the Court itself REFINED the petition, giving it a new unsolicited twist altogether:
a. to first establish whether or not there were statutory violations, irregularities, omissions and malpractices in the 2012 general elections; and
b. to ascertain whether violations, irregularities, omissions and malpractices affected the results of the election.
We all saw the proceedings as they unfolded over the past four months or so. The petitioners categorized their allegations into four groups and went about digging for evidence from the pink sheets to support them. They particularly settled on serial numbers, voting without biometric verification, over-voting, and non-signing of pink sheets by Presiding Officers.
They approached the hearing with a posture framed around “water-tight evidence” and claimed that “the evidence is in the pink sheets”. They couldn’t tell the court how many pink sheets exactly constituted their evidence. We know how the KPMG settled it all only for the petitioners to continue struggling up to the last hurdle—the oral submission stage, leaving the Court in doubt on what exactly the quantum of exhibits are!
All along, Dr. Afari Gyan had kept repeating that NO ONE voted TWICE or more! And NO ONE was PREVENTED from voting. These two issues will be considered as very serious irregularities in any election if they occur; but they did not take place in 2012. None was reported by the party agents nor did the petitioners state or prove any in court.
The NPP campaign team spoke through Boakye Agyarko and declared the elections as the most PEACEFUL in the history of elections in Ghana! That declaration confirmed the observations of the local and international observers who had proved that the elections were also FREE, FAIR, and TRANSPARENT.
The petitioners presented a problem to themselves and the court regarding what constituted “irregularities” and “widespread irregularities”. Could they quantify them? No, because no measure exists for doing so. Thus, before such allegations on “irregularities” can be accepted and used as the basis for nullifying votes, there should have been a quantifiable threshold measure for those words and phrases (“irregularities” and “widespread irregularities”). Obviously, then, it will be difficult for the judges to find anything in the constitution, in terms of irregularities, to nullify anyone's vote. (Thanks to a friend at one forum to which I contribute for coming up with this perspective).
As for the unsigned pink sheets, they provoke derisive laughter, not evidence to prevail over the judges. The petitioners have not provided any evidence that anyone was PREVENTED from signing the sheets. In fact, they did not even complain that anyone was PREVENTED from signing the sheets. So where were the people who were supposed to sign the pink sheets? If they were somewhere else doing their own things, why should votes be annulled because of their laxity (whether premeditated, impulsive, or intentional, for whatever reason)? (Again, this idea was given by the friend that I mentioned above).
Does this mean that in future anybody can walk away from a polling station without signing a pink sheet, and their party will claim irregularities later to fight as the petitioners are doing? And also claim that votes should be annulled? (My friend’s question).
The statutory provision is for Presiding Officers to sign pink sheets; and the 990 out of 26,002 that were not signed could be described as an irregularity; is this a good reason why the votes of over 4 million people who genuinely voted on December 7 and 8 2012, should be annulled?
The failure of an officer to sign a pink sheet, if he was not prevented from doing so, should be a punishable offence, and a responsibility of the parties. Perhaps parliament should pass a law, making it an offence to stop this ROT and NONSENSE. (Thanks to my friend quoted above).
The petitioners couldn’t provide any acceptable definition for over-voting nor did they substantiate that allegation with evidence from the primary document (the ballot papers). Dr. Afari Gyan made it clear that NO ONE voted TWICE or more! The petitioners didn’t challenge him with any evidence from any polling station but relied on clerical errors in pink sheets. Ludicrous!
As was established throughout the hearing, NO ONE voted without passing through biometric verification. The petitioners didn’t provide any concrete evidence from any polling station to the contrary. So, wherein lies the justification for their allegation?
In the end, all this hassle of petition hearing could have been curtailed had the petitioners done their homework to establish that their protests against Election 2012 aren’t supported by the reality that prevailed at the polling stations during voting and the counting of votes. If anything at all, they should blame themselves and their own agents for “sleeping” on the job. They have already reduced their agents to scumbags, thumping themselves on the chest and telling the respondents that “You and I were not there”.
And as my friend intelligently concluded:
Big Question: Is this a reason to nullify people’s votes?
Big Answer: No!!!!!!
I shall return…
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