Wenchi High Court adjourns Techiman South election petition hearing to Jan 18
Wenchi High Court has adjourned the hearing of Techiman South election petition involving the EC, NPP’s Adjei Mensah- Korsah and NDC’s Christopher Benyere to Tuesday, 18 January, 2022.
BELOW IS UPDATE ON TECHIMAN SOUTH ELECTION PETITION HEARING AT WENCHI HIGH COURT – 17TH JANUARY, 2022.
IN COURT: Proceedings commenced at 9: 27 AM when the case was called.
Present in court were the following people: The Petitioner, Christopher Beyere Baasongti and his counsel, Justin Pwavra Teriwajah as well as the second witness for the Petitioner, Hon. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah. The 1st Respondent was absent but he was represented by Richard Asamoah (the NPP Constituency Secretary). However, the lawyer for the 1st Respondent was absent. On the part of the 2nd Respondent, neither its lawyer nor its representative was in court. The Judge asked Richard Asamoah why the lawyer for Martin Kwaku Adjei-Mensah Korsah was absent and he informed the Judge that the lawyer was still on the way to the court and that their lawyer would reach the court within 10 minutes. As a result, Justice Frederick Nawurrah stood the case down for some time.
The case was recalled at exactly 9:41 AM when all the lawyers were then present.
PARTIES PRESENT WHEN CASE WAS RECALLED:
1. The Petitioner, Christopher Beyere Baasongti;
2. The 1st Respondent, Martin Kwaku Adjei-Mensah Korsah was absent but he was represented by Richard Asamoah, the NPP Constituency Secretary for the Techiman South Constituency.
3. The 2nd Respondent was represented by its Techiman South Municipal Electoral Officer, Sampson Ofori Gyamfi.
Present in Court to testify as a witness for the Petitioner was the NDC General Secretary, Hon. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah.
Also present in court to observe proceedings was the NPP General Secretary, John Buadu among others.
1. Justin Pwavra Teriwajah Esq. for the Petitioner.
2. Frank Davies, Esq. for the 1st Respondent and with him was Garry Nimako Marfo Esq.
3. Emmanuel Addai, Esq. for 2nd Respondent (the Electoral Commission).
BUSINESS FOR THE DAY:
The NDC General Secretary began by swearing on oath to testify truthfully after which he was led by the lawyer for the Petitioner to give his evidence which culminated in the adoption of his witness statement as his evidence-in-chief.
NB: At the last sitting on 10th January, 2022, counsel for the 2nd Respondent finished his cross-examination of the Petitioner’s 1st Witness (PW1), Abdul-Hameed Zakaria (aka Bin Laden) and as such, today’s (17th January, 2022) sitting was fixed for the NDC General Secretary, Hon. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, to give his testimony and to be cross-examined.
Petitioner’s lawyer – Justin Pwavra Teriwajah briefly lead the NDC General Secretary to introduce himself to the court as follows:
Q: Briefly introduce yourself to the court.
A: l am Johnson Asiedu Nketiah. l live in Accra.
Q: You gave this court your withness statement. Can you go through this document to confirm if indeed it is the witness statement you caused to be filed in this court.
A: Yes, my Lord, it is but l will like to seek leave of the court to effect some amendment in relation to a date in paragraph 16 of my withness statement which should have read April, 2021 instead of April, 2020.
The NDC legal counsel, Justin Pwavra Teriwajah, then sought leave of the court which was granted.
Justice Frederick Nawurrah granted the request and further asked if all parties had copies of the 5 CDs for the audio evidence and they all responded in the affirmative.
The witness statement of Hon. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah was then adopted as his evidence-in-chief without any objection from the lawyers of the respondents after which Lawyer Justin Pwavra Teriwajah resumed his seat.
THE CROSS EXAMINATION:
After the adoption of Johnson Asiedu Nketiah’s witness statement as his evidence-in-chief, the cross-examination was done by lawyer Frank Davies on behalf of his client (Martin Martin Kwaku Adjei-Mensah Korsah. Frank Davies Esq. started his cross-examination at 9:56am. It went as follows:
Q1. You signed your withness statement after proof-reading right?
A. Yes my lord.
Q2. And you signed off this witness statement to support your case?
A. Yes my lord, that is so my lord.
Q3. As the General Secretary of the NDC, can you briefly tell this court your duties?
A. My lord, my duties include organisation of all campaigns, that theparty pparticipates in ad well as the day to day running of the Party. In summary, Iam the CEO of the NDC Party.
Q4. Specifically in relation to the NDC Parliamentary Elections in Techiman South, you were not visibly present at any of the polling stations in the Constituency, right?
A. That is do my lord.
Q5. You were also not visibly present at the Collation centre, when the Elections were declared.
A. That is so my lord.
Q6. Mr. Nketia, at best, all your 17 paragraph withness statement you relied on as evidence in chief in this court are manifest hearsay statements.
A. No my lord, my testimony is about things / issues that l have personally withness and captured on video and is about my work as the final authority, that all persons delegated by the Party to perform duties related in the conduct of elections. And where there is a problem,that problem is reported to me and l follow up to try and solve that problem.
Q7. Mr. Asiedu Nketiah, l need not remind you under sufferance of oath before this court and any wrong answer in relation to this matter in court amounts to purgery.
Objection: NDC counsel for Petitioner objects to the question as it amounts to into intimidation of his withness- NDC Gen. Sec. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah.
NPP lawyer: This inter jection is needless, and if l tell the withness that, what is intimidation about this? , Can l intimidate General.
General your answers should be directed towards the Judge, not me so stop looking at me.
A. General, Yes my lord lam fully aware of the consequences of my oath.
Q8. Read paragraph 9 of your own withness statement?
A. General reads………l as the NDC General Secretary, constituted a fact finding team that went to Techiman South to ascertain the facts and team up with the Electoral Commission to rectify the anomaly. I was part of the fact, finding team.
Q9. What anomaly are you referring here?
A. My lord , the anomaly being referred to is the lack of consistency between the total number of votes as indicated on the 267 Polling stations pinksheets in the Techiman South Elections and the PURPORTED DECLARATION by the 2nd respondent ie the Electoral Commission that the 1st Respondent is the winner of the Elections. And as l indicated earlier on in my withness statement, that results from all constituencies were to be relayed to the Elections Directorate of the NDC at our Headquarters, so the figures that were contained on the pink sheets as electronically submitted to our office, indicated that our NDC Parliamentary Candidate for Techiman South- Christopher Bayere Baasonte won the Elections.
My lord that was the problem l referred to as to be investigated.
Q10. Mr Asiedu Nketiah not withstanding the profused anomaly you have cited, the 2nd Respondent declared the 1st respondent as the winner, not your Christopher, right?
A: My lord, there was that PURPORTED DECLARATION which we consider to be without basis in law, and that was the reason we have decided to come to this court to releaves to that effect.
Q11. And the fact that, the 1st Respondent as clearly indicated in your withness statement…. General, kindly read Paragraph 5 ….and respond
A. General reads paragraph 5 and responds as follows…the E C did not collate the results according to law, but he PURPORTEDLY DECLARED MARTIN KORSAH AS WINNER ?
Q12. By what margin of votes did your arithmetic give the PURPORTED WINNER?
A. My lord, the Collation at the NDC Headquarters indicated that the Parties candidate Christopher Bayere Baasonte garnered- 50,306 votes , whiles the NPP Candidate – 1st respondent garnered- 50,013 votes, with 293 difference in favour of the NDC as at 8/12/2020 collated results at the NDC Headquarters- Accra.
Q13. General, this results was after you have put all your 267 Polling stations votes in the Techiman South Constituency right?
A. Yes my lord
Q15. Kindly read paragraph 23 of Christopher Bayere Baasonte withness statement- General
A. General reads- My agent and l have assembled and collated the results as follows:
1. Christopher Bayere Baasonte- 50, 376 valid votes
2. Martin Agyei Mensah Korsah- 50,118 valid votes.
Q16. So General, between your Party headquarters and your Parliamentary Candidate – Christopher Bayere Baasonte, you are not even sure of how many votes you garnered. Inconsistencies in results….
A. That is so my lord. And my lord , it will be realised that, our original Petition was based on the figures as at 8th December, 2020. Since then, we have moved on as further verifications revealed some transpositional errors, for which reason we came back to this court to amend our Petition to reflect the accurate figures that are contained in the withness statement of our Techiman South Parliamentary Candidate- Christopher, which the court graciously agreed,so there is no longer any inconsistencies in terms of accurate figures.
Q17. So General, you are telling this court that the Party Headquarters made an error in the computation of votes for Petitioner.
A. Yes my lord and it’s because of the possibility of such errors occurring, that our electoral has been designed to have an open , transparent and participatory process of Collation where all participating parties sit around a table with the EMPIRE(the EC Returning Officer) where the various number of votes garnered by each candidate as entered on the pink sheets of each Polling stations are mentioned loudly and clearly by the Returning Officer to the hearing of all gathered at the Collation center.
NPP Lawyer: Objection my lord, the witness should be told here is not a lecture hall….
General continues and retorts..my lord that is the beef of this matter and that is the cracks of the case.
Judge: Justice Nawurrah asks General to summarise his submissions.
A. General, my lord in summary, the Collation process is designed to ensure that, all the data from the Polling stations are assembled and verified by all Participating Parties together with the E C’s Returning Officer, so that one set of figures and results can be arrived at and shared by every body. This was not done and has landed us here in court.
Q18. You similarly committed an error in the votes originally garnered by the 1st Respondent correct?
A. Yes my lord and this was corrected in the amendment and the court accepted. This lends credence to the fact that Collation, which should form the basis for declaration and the clearing house for all this minor errors did not take place as prescribed by our procedures.
Q19. Do you still maintain that there was no Collation of votes in respect to the Parliamentary elections in Techiman South?
A. Yes my lord.
Q20. Do you know Abdul Hameed Zakaria?
A. Yes my lord
Q21. Who and what is he?
A. My lord he is the NDC Elections Director for Techiman South Constituency.
Q22. Do you know that he has preferred evidence in this court and has been extensively cross- examined by lawyers for both 1st and 2nd Respondents.
A. My lord that fact has been reported to me by our lawyer and since l was not in court , l cannot testify to issues on it.
Q23. Do you also know for a fact that or has beed reported to you that, Abdul Hameed Zakaria admitted that there was indeed Collation of votes in the Techiman South Parliamentary elections results.
Objection to the question by NDC Lawyer Justin Kwavra Teriwajah Esq. based on the following:
1. Our client was not in court, there for counsel will be using unfair means to cross examine our witness.
Resistance/ Counter response from the NPP Lawyer Frank David Esq. – My lord, the objection is grossly misconceived, baseless and misplaced. My lord is is rather elimentary as lawyers who are fully representing Parties in a case which is being contested to know that, one is not obliged to be in court to before one can testify as a withness. My lord if l don’t even have access to the transcript of proceedings, l can with all due respect, have access to the 2nd Respondents notes.
My lord, Secondly, in all candour lawyer for the Petitioner should not be seen approgating and mis approgating issues here.
Judge: Justice Nawurrah intervenes and gives a ruling on the matter after writing his ruling.
JUDGES RULING ON THE MATTER.
The Court agrees with the Counsel for 1st Respondent…..
On the other hand , even though it is wrong….
Purported collation is not the same as Collation has been done. In the circumstances let the question hold as unsubstantiated.
Q24. The Petitioner maintains there was no Collation, and later on changed his stance that there was no proper Collation? Do you know that for a fact?
A. Yes my lord, l was in court on those days where my counsel sought to amend the petition by changing the Phrase “no Collation ” to read ” no proper Collation “. My lord as far as l can recollect, this court dis-allowed the application and held that, there is no substantial difference between the 2 phrases, because the results is the same.
Q25. It is also a matter of fact that, whether it was a Collation, a purported Collation or an alleged Collation, there was a Collation of votes ag the Bono Kyempem hall and after that Collation, the Ist Respondent was declared winner of the Techiman South Parliamentary Elections.
A. Yes my lord, l maintain that, there was purported declaration, which we hold has no basis, because there was no Collation, that is why we are here.
Q26. General in paragraph 10 of your withness statement, you said you lead a team to the office of the Returning Officer of the E C in Techiman South and he said he has declared Martin Agyei Mensah Korsah- Ist Respondent as the winner of the Elections? The question is how could he do that, if indeed there was no Collation?
A. My lord nothing prevents the E C from declaring anybody including myself as President if he seeks to do so but the difference between what is genuine and valid declaration and what is not, is the basis upon which the declaration is made. My lord in this case there was no basis for the purported declaration and there was no evidence supplied to us by the returning Officer when we requested him to do so.
Q27. General, in tandem with your answers, it is equally in the same manner and fashion that various Officers of your party- NDC including your good self have declared various inconsistent figures to declare Christopher Bayere Baasonte as winner from their open mouth …..no basis correct ?
A. That’s correct my lord, the taste of the pudding is determined in the eating. That is why we have brought it here. In all disputes and pronouncements, there is always a forum to test and verify the truth. Beyond which there is a court of competent jurisdiction to settle such matters in accordance with law….that’s why we are here….?
Q28. Never theless the Petitioner with the NDC Bono East Regional Communications Officer Kwadwo Agyei Dwomoh, categorically stated that he had won the Elections with over 2,000 votes correct?
Q29. I can not testify and attest to that or deny that, because l wasn’t present at the press conference.
Q29. Also the Petitioner at a press conference with you on 10th December, 2020 and addressed by the NDC Constituency Director of Elections – Abdul Hameed Zakaria claimed that the Petitioner won – 50,569 valid votes against- 49,874 valid votes for 1st Respondent .Do you recall this press conference
A. Yes l do recall my lord, but all these are due to the fact that, the clearing house E. C . did not provide the avenue for such, so all kinds of results will be churned out.
Q30. Again the Petitioner in a press conference address by Mr. John Dramani Mahama claimed that the Petitioner had won by 49, 825 against………..
A. My lord l cannot recall that there was any press Conference, but l want to repeat that, once CERTIFIED figures have not been done by the E C , any results by Parties are based on information/ facts before them. That is why Collation is necessary to establish and ascertain on set of facts for all to comply with. This was not done and it has open the gates for all kinds of results and facts according to A, B and C.
Q31. Again on 21/ 12/2020, on Joynews, the Petitioner claimed he had won with 50, 420 valid votes and 1st Respondent got – 49, 825 valid votes.
A. My lord, l can’t remember monitoring such news.
Q32. On 22/ 12/2020 the Petitioner in the Company of the NDC Minority Caucus in Parliament claimed he has won 50, 306 votes and 1st Respondent 50,013 votes.
A. I was not at the press conference, hence l can’t testify.
Q33. Lastly, on 31/ 12/ 2020 Petitioner and the NDC Minority in a meeting with the Foreign envoys and you claimed Christopher Bayere Baasonte got – 50, 368 votes whiles Korsah got – 50, 118 votes right?
A . I can’t remember but we are here to ascertain the facts from opinions in the public domain from the clearing house.
Q34. So am right in suggesting to you that these multiple claims with differences furnished by non other but the Petitioner to this court, is a figment of his own imagination right ?
A. My lord, l cannot say it is a figment of his imagination, but lam saying that, every body will be entitled to his own opinion, until the facts are established through a credible process of Collation.
Q35. So General, you are telling this court that, Christopher Bayere Baasonte who was a Principal actor in the contest made various claims and pronounced figures without any factual basis or recourse to Pinksheets.
A. My lord my answer is an emphatic NO based on the following reasons:
1. That all Parties who participated in an election are given Pinksheets which are signed and agreed upon at the Polling stations.
2. There is a whole process of transposing the figures from the Polling stations to a Collation centre set up by the E C to collate certified results from E C Pinksheets at the Collation centre on the presence of all Parties to establish the credible figures from the Transposition errors and errors of additions which will now be certified by all Parties and established as the valid basis for declaration of results.
3. This was not done.
Q36. So General, if l may ask, what at all was the basis and determining factor in the multiple figures pronounced by the Petitioner at all the various press Conference that was held by the Petitioner ?
A. My lord, l understand the Petitioner was in the docket some few weeks earlier…..
Objection : lawyer Frank Davies- NPP – My lord His response is rood and cheeky, and as General Secretary of the NDC Party he is addressing the court, not me ?
Resistance/ Counter Response by the NDC Lawyer Justin Teriwajah- My lord, the withness was in the process of answering the question and Counsel is trying to intimidate and cow him into submission…this is highly unfair?
Response- Lawyer Frank Davies- Hahahaa….who can intimidate and gag General? ….This man stature, can l intimidate him….. Counsel you are fun of engaging in this needless banter…
Judge: Justice Nawurrah intervenes and call for cool heads to prevail…..and directs General to answer.
A. Mh lord as l said earlier that, some weeks ago the Petitioner was in the docket and his opinion as to how the various figures were arrived by him will have been more credible at that stage but as l said and continue to maintain, you can all be working from the same Pinksheets with the same set of results and yet get different total votes because of transpositional errors and also errors of additions. That is why what is happening is happening…
Q37. Does the NDC associate itself with this Petition?
A. Yes my lord…..
Q38. General the Petitioner speaks for the NDC and the NDC Speaks for the Petitioner?
A. Yes my lord in this court.
Q39. General lam finally giving it to you that, the Petitioner claims to this court is fictitious, vexatious and does not merit any reliefs ?
A. I disagree my lord and l maintain that, every thing l have said here indicates that, there was no Collation of results and that should have constituted a foundation for proper declaration not the purported declaration. So l pray the court to declare the purported declaration null and void and without basis.
END OF CROSS EXAMINATION
After asking the 39th question, lawyer Frank Davies ended his cross-examination and the judge sealed the mouth of the witness and informed him that he was adjourning the case to the next day for lawyer Emmanuel Addai to cross-examine the witness on behalf of the Electoral Commission at exactly 12:15pm
Case was therefore adjourned to Tuesday, 18th January, 2022 in the forenoon.
Reporting from Wenchie High Court.
Comrade Raph- GFC- student of the law.