By Margaret Jackson
July 31, 2013
Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, the second petitioner in the Supreme Court (SC) case in which the NPP is asking the court to invalidate over 4 million votes to declare the twice defeated NPP flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as president, demeaned the over 54,000 polling agents hired by the NPP during the 2012 Elections.
Without mincing words, bemused Dr Bawumia told the court during his cross-examination that the tens of thousands of polling agents who were paid by the NPP to act as watchdogs of the 2012 election process were nothing more than glorified polling agents who were just paid to go to the polling stations to witness irregularities and illegalities without raising a finger.
Dr Bawumia even shocked television viewers when he told the court that he has never read, heard or seen the 2012 Presidential & Parliamentary Elections guide published by the Electoral Commission (EC).That was why a copy of the guide was given to Bawumia by Mr James Quarshie-Idun, lead counsel for the EC and was forced to read portions concerning the role of polling agents.
A thoroughgoing look at the EC’s guide however reveals something different from what Bawumia told the court and his NPP supporters. It is stated on Page 11 of the guide that all polling agents must position themselves in such a way that they can clearly see or hear whatever is going on and to feel free to move about the polling station at all times.
A polling agent is also told to, “Call the attention of the Presiding Officer to anything that you consider to be irregular, and if necessary, fill an irregularity form or give a written account of the irregularity to the Presiding Officer or a higher official.”
If you move to page 12 the guide enjoins all polling agents to closely observe the counting of the votes, making sure that each ballot is counted in favour of the candidate for whom it was cast.
“Ask for a recount, if you genuinely think that the votes have not been counted correctly. Note, however, that the votes cast at any polling station may be counted only once. If any agent is still not satisfied after the recount, ALL AGENTS must accompany the ballot box to the Constituency Centre (Collation Centre) for the Returning Officer to count the ballots.”
“Sign the Declaration of Results Form, making sure that the total number of votes obtained by your candidate as well as the other candidates have been properly recorded, and obtain a signed copy of the results for the candidate who appointed you. If you refuse to sign the results, you must give reasons in writing for failing to do so to the Presiding Officer or a superior election official. Otherwise, remember that your failure to sign will not invalidate the results.”
“Once you have signed and received a copy of the results, the votes will not be counted again anywhere, so your job as an agent is finished.”
Page 13 & 14 of the guide also emphatically states that polling agents must protect the interest of the candidate that appointed them. It further states that, “The candidate has put great trust in you, and you must not disappoint him/her. Together with the election officials and the security personnel, you form a team, charged with the responsibility to ensure that the elections are run properly at your polling station, in accordance with the rules and regulations. You must carry out your duties with absolute dedication, honesty and integrity”
If the polling agents of the NPP were all privy to the information in the EC’s election guide, why on earth will Bawumia tag them as glorified agents whose hands were tied by some invisible forces, therefore, 11,842 of them could not yell when they witnessed irregularities at their polling stations?
What baffles many people is that not a single NPP polling agent in the 11,842 polling stations they are contesting in court called the attention of any Presiding Officer to anything they considered to be irregular. And to make matters worse, none of the NPP’s 11,842 polling agents filled an irregularity form or gave a written account of any irregularity as stipulated by the EC to any Presiding Officer or a higher official of the EC.
When the NPP lawyers were questioned if they have any shred of evidence concerning any protest note from any of their polling agents, all what they stated was that they had some phone calls from their supporters on alleged malpractices in certain polling stations. In effect, what the NPP was telling the court was that their allegations were all based on hearsay and nothing more.
Another strange thing is that the NPP is in court with the 11,842 pink sheets but they have no clue as to how those pink sheets were filled out by the Presiding Officers. They are just giving their own interpretations on how those sheets were filled out.
The NPP is privy to the information in the EC guide but they do not have any single protest note from any of their paid 11,842 polling agents that is why they could not call any of their polling agents to the witness box to buttress their case.
Otherwise why will Bawumia who has no respect for the NPP’s polling agents act as the sole polling agent in all the 11,842 polling stations, and was bold enough to tell the court that NPP polling agents did not perform their duties as stipulated in the EC’s election guide because they are all glorified agents?
This is another statement that will come back to haunt the NPP when the case is finally determined by the SC justices. Because the justices by now know that the description of polling agents by Bawumia is totally incorrect and that the NPP polling agents did what they were paid to do, that is why they went to the polling stations on the Election Day, witnessed the voting and closely observed the counting of the votes, and afterwards signed the Declaration of Results form after being satisfied that there were no irregularities in the 11,842 polling stations under contention.
I dare say that Bawumia again got it all wrong and that he will not escape with this lie!