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Going To Court Not Easy – Atuguba Tells Afari-Gyan   
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Hearing of the election petition drew to a close at the Supreme Court yesterday after seven months of a legal marathon, with the presiding judge exclaiming, “At long last the battle of evidence has ended.”

Mr Justice William Atuguba made the remark when lawyers in the case announced they had no further questions for the Returning Officer of the December 2012 presidential election, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan.

Dr Afari-Gyan, who had been discharged by the court after he had been subjected to 13 days of cross-examination from lead counsel for the petitioners, Mr Philip Addison, was walking towards his seat when Mr Justice Atuguba said, “I hope you’ve seen that ‘go to court, go to court’ is not easy.”

The comments drew a huge applause from the audience who had, for the past 46 sitting days, heard legal jargons, seen courtroom wranglings, listened to fierce legal arguments and occasional humour.

It would be recalled that on December 9, 2012, some leading members of the NPP appealed to Dr Afari-Gyan to suspend the declaration of the results of the presidential election because the party had discovered some irregularities, but the EC Chairman dismissed their claim and asked them to go to court if they so wished.

It was all joy, smiles, hugs and cheers among lawyers, party big wigs and members of the public who had been given accreditation to witness proceedings when it finally emerged that the hearing of the petition had ended.

Remarkably, the hearing of the substantive petition ended exactly three months after it began. It began on April 17, 2013 and ended on July 17, 2013.

Another significant observation is that the petitioners and the Electoral Commission (EC), who are the main actors in the petition, took only two days to lead their witnesses in evidence, but their witnesses were subjected to 13 and 14 days of cross-examination, respectively.

The star witness of the petitioners, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, took two days to give evidence on the irregularities recorded during the presidential poll, but was subjected to 13 days of cross-examination by counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Tsatsu Tsikata.

Another witness who underwent grueling cross-examination from Mr Addison for 14 days was Dr Afari-Gyan.

The General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, testified on behalf of President Mahama and the NDC.

Following the court’s April 2, 2013 order, which gave dispensation to parties in the case to give only oral evidence, six other witnesses gave their testimonies in the form of written sworn affidavits on behalf of the petitioners to back claims of irregularities while more than 4,000 witnesses gave affidavit evidence to support the claim of the President and the NDC, that the election was won freely and fairly.

Prior to the hearing, the court had to deal with more than 21 interlocutory applications from January 10, 2013 to April 2, 2013, when it set out two issues for trial.
Source: Daily Graphic

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