COMMENTARY: Are The NDC And John Mahama On A ?Hari Kari? Trip?
BY: Dr Yaw Ohemeng

President John Mahama

President John Mahama

?Hari-Kari? is a corruption of the Japanese word ?Hara-Kari?, which is an ancient form of ritual suicide that a defeated Samurai would use to restore his honour in death. In English usage, it has come to stand for the act of killing one?s self or committing suicide. This word seems an apt description of what has transpired this week at the election petition hearings at the Supreme Court.

The cross-examination by Mr Tsikata and the commentaries by both Mr Ato Dadzie and Mr Adawuda all point to the fact that the NDC have also found irregularities in some NPP strongholds for which they will also be asking the court to annul. Mr Tsikata has gone to the extent of presenting what he claimed to be original pink sheets to buttress this fact.

This turn or events might be problematic for the defence of both the NDC and President Mahama. First, pointing to further evidence of ?overvoting? is not only contrary to what they have asserted in their response affidavit, but also it buttresses the claim of the Petitioners that all was not well with the 2012 elections. Secondly, if they are not blinded by the sole aim of pleasing their supporters, they would have realised that the arithmetic is not in their favour. The Petitioners are claiming that they examined 24,000 pink sheets (over 90% of all pink sheets) from 272 of the total 275 constituencies across the country. This should indicate to the NDC that pursuing alleged irregularities in NPP strongholds, even if founded, is not going to affect the numbers that much.

Mr Tsikata accused the NPP of dishonesty in not disclosing that there were also irregularities where their candidate won. In actual fact perusal of the list of concerned polling stations given on Peacefmonline, shows that there are several where Nana Akufo Addo won, which the Petitioners are asking to be annulled. But were the NPP really required to show all polling stations where irregularities occurred? Their aim in this action was to bring evidence to answer the questions before the court, from their perspective. Strictly, they did not even have to bring evidence from 11, 138 polling stations; they needed to show only a sample. Some may even argue further that they also did not have to demonstrate the material impact of the alleged irregularities. A sample of pink sheets showing the alleged irregularities ought to have been sufficient basis for the petition to be heard in anticipation that the SC would order an audit of all 26,002 pink sheets, if the allegations are found to be true. However, due to flawed precedence that abounds in a number of African jurisdictions (notably Nigeria), the NPP could not risk not also demonstrating the impact of the irregularities. Therefore they had to do just enough, within the time available to it, to show the irregularities and their material effect.
There was no need for Mr Tsikata to bring forth the issue of ?overvoting? in NPP strongholds. By so doing, he has rather further tainted the elections and made it more likely that the SC would find that widespread irregularities attended the 2012 elections. He could rather have called for investigations that would show that the ?clerical? and ?administrative? errors they are arguing were widespread and that there was no deliberate pattern to it. Mr Ato Dadzie is reported to be now arguing this line but is it not rather too late? If you contrast his statement on Thursday with that on Tuesday, and with that of Mr Adawuda and even with what Mr Tsikata said in court on Wednesday, their main thrust was to show that irregularities had also occurred in NPP strongholds and that the Petitioners deliberately concealed them from the court.

In any event if the SC wants to be fair to all parties, and if any of the categories of violations, irregularities and malpractices are held by the court, it ought to order an audit of all 26,002 polling stations to be able to answer the question on the material impact of the said infractions. Mr. Tsikata therefore goofed in bringing this up which has now given the clearest indication that the elections were indeed flawed.

A less obvious consequence of Mr. Tsikata?s production of original pink sheets is the laying bare of the collusion that exists between the NDC and the EC. It will be recalled that earlier on in proceedings, the Petitioners had applied to court to order the EC to release copies of all the 26,002 pink sheets that it is statutorily mandated to keep. The EC successfully fought off this action. How then did the NDC obtain, not duplicate copies but originals of some pink sheets? This again does not help their defence and that of the EC as it sustains the accusation of collusion levelled by the Petitioners against the two parties.
Methinks that Mr Tsikata has examined the case of the Petitioners and found it to be impenetrable despite all the showboating. He is seeking the best outcome for his client. At the moment the best he sees is a re-run of the elections rather than see the first Petitioner declared the outright winner.

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