March 24, 2012
NICHOLL'S Town, North Andros - The number of voters whose registration in the North Andros constituency is being challenged has dwindled from 30 to 17, North Andros Administrator Huntley Christie revealed at a hearing yesterday.
Before hearing testimony from some of those remaining voters, Christie heard submissions from attorney Philip Brave Davis, who argued that the matter ought to be aborted because Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham revealed the name of one of the voters at a rally this week, days after the administrator ordered that their identities be kept secret.
Davis, deputy leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), represents some of the people who are accused of being illegally registered in North Andros.
"We submit that the integrity of the proceedings has been compromised," he said.
"...You gave a directive that we were not to disclose the names of persons here."
Davis said he was "appalled and deeply concerned" that Ingraham called the man's name. The voter in question sat in court as Davis made his submissions yesterday.
The lawyer also pointed out to Christie that he does not have tenure like Supreme Court justices, so he could be terminated at any time by the executive.
At the rally, Ingraham also said people like the voter in question will soon come to know that having a second home in another constituency does not give them the right to vote there.
"Is he telling you how to rule?" Davis asked Christie. "...However you rule, that decision is going to be shaken in the minds of the public."
The lawyer further submitted that the prime minister violated one of the most hallowed principles of the dispensation of justice and that is justice must not only be done, but must be seen to have been done.
"It is horrifying to the system," he said, adding that the prime minister had turned the proceedings into a "political circus".
However, attorney Elma Campbell, who represents the objectors, told the court that it was Davis who first called the voter's name outside the tribunal.
She was referring to an interview Davis gave last week Friday in which he called the man's last name. ZNS aired the interview, Campbell noted.
She told the administrator that his directive not to reveal names was an instruction to reporters and counsel.
Administrator Christie said he noted Davis' concerns. He said no one is above the law, and stressed that he is not easily intimidated. He then killed the submissions on the point and directed that the hearing proceed and witnesses be called.
The tribunal then heard from several voters being challenged, including a woman who said she lives in Nicholl's Town but has been visiting Nassau frequently over the last year because she injured her back.
She said she has lived in five different places in New Providence, and came back to Andros because "I was ordered to come clear my name".
In fact, she said she canceled a doctor's appointment in Nassau yesterday because she was called to testify.
One of the objectors, Alfie Stubbs, also returned to the stand yesterday, testifying in relation to a voter he said was his cousin. Stubbs said she lives in Nassau.
The young woman later testified. She said she is a resident of Morgan's Bluff, but resides in Nassau for "education purposes".
She was wearing her College of The Bahamas ID around her neck and said she has been attending COB off and on for the past seven years. The woman also said she works part-time at a pharmacy in New Providence.
She said she returns to North Andros during school breaks.
After questioning the young woman, Campbell thanked her for her testimony and wished her well in her studies.
Cassandra Fowler, the Free National Movement's chairman in North Andros, also testified for a second time in relation to a family member - a cousin.
She said he is a customs broker and moved to New Providence with his wife.
But the man said he has been interdicted by the Department of Customs and visits his wife in New Providence, but he insisted that he lives in North Andros.
Another witness, a contractor, testified that he has lived in North Andros all his life and still does.
"I'm always here," said the man, who added that he travels to New Providence for work.
"If someone calls me in Nassau, I go," he said. The man also told the court that he lives with his girlfriend and child in New Providence when he visits.
His mother also testified that her son lives with her in North Andros.
Administrator Christie adjourned the matter to Monday.
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News date : 03/24/2012 Category : Nassau Guardian Stories