ATUGUBA CHARGES ON LEAD COUNSEL …We Are In Charge
Date published: May 16, 2013
By Ivy Benson
The Supreme Court (SC) hearing the election petition challenging the validity of the declaration of President John Dramani Mahama as winner of the December 2012 presidential election, yesterday, asserted its authority over counsels for the parties during proceedings, and warning that they were fully in charge.
The court, which experienced several confrontations during proceedings, while the star witness of the petitioners, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, was under cross-examination, compelled the Presiding Judge, Justice William Atuguba, to stamp the court’s authority in determining the legalities that crop up in the case.
“I think it is within our authority, and we will do it… Sit down,” Justice Atuguba charged on the lead counsel for the petitioners, Mr. Philip Addison, after the latter interjected with the claim that his client was being subjected to irrelevant questions in the witness box by lead counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata.
According to the court, issues of relevancy solely remain with it to determine, since it was following the issues before it, and therefore, did not require the inputs of parties.
Other panel members include Justices Julius Ansah, Sophia Adinyira, Rose Owusu, Jones Dotse, Anin-Yeboah, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Sule Gbadegbe and Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
Additionally, as Mr. Addison objection to questions directed to the witness in relation to the claim of electoral victory of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), and the directives to supporters to wear “white cloths to church”, saw the vibrant Justice Atuguba cutting in saying, “We have powers and can use it wide, but do not want to exercise it too much. We cannot be over-run.”
The court had noted that the issue in question was part of the pleadings of the petitioners, and therefore, the lead counsel for the NDC could cross-examine the witness on the issue.
As Dr. Bawumia responded to the question, indicating that many NPP officials made claim to victory, but he only knew that it was the Electoral Commission (EC) that declares elections, the court run in again, noting, “You are a Doctor and very intelligent. Help us.”
The court further advised the witness, whose evidence was straying into political grounds, to bring his mind to the court proceedings, and leave the political climate, so that it could ascertain the truth and facts of the issues before it, and declare accordingly.
Mr. Tsikata was also not spared, as he had his attempt at cross-examining witness on some issues turned down, since they were issues relevant to addressing the court at the final stage.
The court’s composure was a departure from the usual diplomatic way of handling issues of this nature, and allowing and relaxing the rules for the parties involved, but that seemed not to be working, as the counsels do take advantage of the situation and tried to circumvent the rules.
Questioned on the alleged criminality impugned on President John Dramani Mahama and the EC, regarding conspiring to steal the votes to the disadvantage of the 2012 presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Dr. Bawumia noted: “As far as I know, there was no criminality regarding the declaration of the election result.”
The 2012 presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his running mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and Party Chairman Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey are in court challenging the declaration of John Mahama as winner of the 2012 presidential election by the EC.
The petitioners have cited President Mahama and the EC as respondents in the case, however, the NDC was later joined in as a party to defend the allegations brought against its 2012 presidential candidate.
The petitioners are asking the court to annul 4,670,504 votes, representing votes cast in 11,916 polling stations across the country, for what they termed “gross and widespread irregularities” recorded during the December 2012 presidential poll.
Meanwhile, the petitioners have currently reduced the number of polling stations they are challenging to 11,136.
However, the respondents have denied the assertions of the petitioners, noting that the results of the election, as declared, were credible.
Hearing continues today, May 16, 2013.
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