Manasseh Azure Awuni, a freelance Investigative Journalist has questioned the Petitioner in the ongoing Election Petition at the Supreme Court, why its representatives at the ‘Strong Room’ of the Electoral Commission (EC) had to heed to the instructions of the Chairperson of the 1st Respondent when the representatives of the party knew the EC was not on their side.
According to him, the NDC and NPP will miss no opportunity to steal in the election if they were offered the least opportunity, “so, in that arena, trust was non-existent. Yet, in the most critical part of the process, both of you left the Strongroom.”
In a post on his Facebook timeline, Manasseh Azure Awuni asks, “If you had trusted EC and its chairperson, would you have been there in the first place? If you knew that, in your absence, everything would be done accurately and honestly, why didn’t you rest at home and go to sign when collation was done?”
He continued: “The unintended consequence of this petition is that it has exposed the inefficiencies of the petitioner in protecting their votes.
“It happened in 2016. And it happened in 2020. It may happen again in 2024 and forever if your followers don’t tell you the simple truth—that you need to sit up and prepare more seriously before the next crucial December 7.”
He stressed that what happened in the “Strongroom” of the Electoral Commission Headquarters may happen again because telling the unpleasant truth in this town is like an act of suicide.
Manasseh Azure Awuni argues that the credibility of the EC has dipped since Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan left office as its chairman.
Dr Michael Kpessa-Whyte, who was the second witness for the Petitioner, during cross-examination, told the court that his colleague, Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, informed him of an instruction by the EC to deliver a message to John Dramani Mahama who is the petitioner in this case.
This allegation by Dr Kpessah-Whyte has since been questioned, as many believe Mettle-Nunoo, who personally interacted with the EC boss should have testified to it at the Supreme Court.
A Supreme Court judge even told Kpessa-White that he had let his candidate down by leaving the ‘Strongroom’.
This led to hot exchanges between the judge and Tsatsu Tsikata, lead counsel to the petitioner, who told the judge bluntly that he was harassing the witness with his “opinion” when the witness had stated the facts as he knew it, and that the behaviour of the judge was “wrong”.
But Mettle-Nunoo has corroborated Kpessa-White by saying that he made it known to everyone in the “Strongroom” at the EC headquarters that “we have been sent to convey a message to the NDC Presidential Candidate” and that they “had absolutely no other reason to leave”.
In his witness statement to the court, Mettle-Nunoo explained at paragraph 23 thus: “Mrs Jean Mensa informed me that there had been a meeting held earlier in the day between the Petitioner and the Peace Council, something I was unaware of at the time. After I further drew her attention to some of the issues that were coming up in the interactions in the Strongroom, she said very directly that we should go and speak with the Petitioner.”
He continued: “Having regard to her earlier reference to the meeting between the Peace Council and the Petitioner which she had obviously been briefed about, I took seriously what she said. I did not think that we, who were acting as agents of the Petitioner, should be seen as taking positions which may be contrary to what the Petitioner himself had conveyed in a meeting that I was unaware of with a body such as the Peace Council which, I know, has an important role in resolving disputes in connection with elections and calming tensions in the country. She indicated her willingness to meet with the Petitioner.”
He indicated that he was struck by the fact that she proposed that she would send a dispatch rider to help them, that is, Mettle-Nunoo and Dr Kpessa-Whyte, get back to the EC headquarters on time for the declaration of the results on December 9, 2020.
“There was nothing in the discussions which could have given me any reason for doubting the word of the Chairperson of the EC. Indeed, having worked with her previously when I was a consultant to the IEA [Institute of Economic Affairs], I had no reason not to trust her. I took her at her word and I must say I was really shocked to realise how she had proceeded to make a declaration of results at a time when she knew that my colleague and I had left the premises at her instance. I can still remember her saying that she would even send a dispatch rider to hasten our return to the EC headquarters after our consultation with the Petitioner,” Rojo Mettle-Nunoo stated further.
“We left our belongings, including computers and bags in the strongroom at the time we left,” he further averred. “My colleague left his vehicle at the premises of the EC.”