What happened to the thousands of unclaimed voter registration cards in Sierra Leone?

Dr. Sama Banya

13 October 2012

 According to a news release from Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), nearly 2,600,000 citizens registered for the forthcoming November 17 Presidential, Parliamentary and local council elections.

It is also reported that, quite a number of people for some reason, have still not collected their voter cards from the NEC. There were also reports that, some of the cards in question did not carry names, while the NEC could not trace the cards of some others.

So far, I am not aware of any release, which suggests that the NEC has sorted these discrepancies, leaving the obvious and disturbing suspicion that, the NEC could be in possession of an appreciable quantity of extra ballot voter cards and November 17 – polling day is practically on us.

The big question is:

 What is the fate of those unclaimed ballot voter cards, which are presently in the possession of the NEC?

I ask this question deliberately, because of the saying that: “Once bitten twice shy.” And we of the opposition SLPP, have still not got over the high handed action of the NEC chairman in 2007, when she illegally invalidated the results of 477polling stations.

Most of the illegally nullified ballots were from the SLPP’s political strongholds in the southeast. They were invalidated under the pretext that, over voting had taken place in those 477 polling stations.

The NEC had to this day, not produced the evidence to justify its 2007 action, illegal as it was.

There is a very real danger for the same chairman of the NEC, to this time use those so called unclaimed voter cards to the advantage of the ruling APC party.

After all, they had collaborated and almost succeeded to screw the SLPP over the exorbitantly high candidacy nomination fees, over which she had refused to retract, until forced to do so by a determined and combined opposition, backed by the international community.

The NEC could do one of two things, either of which would be inimical to our interest. The unclaimed voter registration cards may be used to get extra ballot cards, which would then be used to stuff the ballot boxes in favour of the APC, or and this is more likely, it may use them to inflate the voting figures in our strongholds and then scream: “MURDER! THERE, THEY’VE DONE IT AGAIN – OVER VOTING”.

Then it would invalidate the results from the affected polling stations. To our friends representing the European Union, the Commonwealth, the African Union and ECOWAS, the Carter Centre and our own local groups, such as the National Election Watch, please note that these are not the rantings of a senile 80 year old.

We have been cheated before, which was one of the other reasons that we LOST THE RESULT of the 2007 runoff election.

 Plus of course, that neither Christiana Thorpe, nor her computer wizard – Carlos Valenzuela, specially recruited by Victor Angelo for that purpose, could reconcile their figures. But they still went on to declare Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma – the winner.

It may interest readers to know that this was the main reason why the NEC removed the voting figures from its website, immediately after declaring APC the winner of the 2007 elections, with such indecent haste.

His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma, while he was leader of the opposition at the time of the elections made a number of suggestions to the United States Ambassador, which if followed today, may avert some of the points raised.

He suggested that at least FOUR REPRESENTATIVES of the Party should be at NEC headquarters, preferably in the computer compilation room to monitor the proceedings there. He also suggested that the result from every polling station should be certified by the Presiding officer and the agents of the candidates.

 However, faced with today’s reality on the ground, I am not sure that his Excellency would be inclined to follow his own 2007 suggestions.

 Perhaps Maada Bio, Charles Margai and the rest of the opposition leaders – with the exception of Mohamed Bangura, may take up the issue with him. Who knows, but that “with defeat looming at them,” Ernest may have the grace and compassion and give his consent.

My very close friend – Misidal Wurie Jalloh had resigned his position as northern regional SLPP chairman, in order to join the UDA and become the flag bearer of that party. Now look at what has happened to him and his party – thanks to Pateh Bah.

 The peaceful, orderly and carnival atmosphere of the SLPP procession from the NEC headquarters to the national stadium and their comportment after their Presidential candidate – Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio and his running mate-  Dr. Kadi Sesay had addressed them; and their equally peaceful dispersal to their various constituencies last Monday, was the main topic of political conversation last Tuesday.

By the time readers go through today’s Puawui they would be in position to compare and contrast that behaviour with that of the APC crowd on Thursday. Would the party’s supporters confound us – their critics or would it be business as usual?

 THE LATEST APC CONVERTS

 Do individuals like the former SLPP Member of Parliament who has crossed over to the APC have a conscience, or is their every move out of personal selfishness and greed?

Here is a former member of the House, who has been rejected by his own constituency, like in the case of many others. And because of that loss of confidence, he decides to defect. I would say: “Good riddance.”

 I would have thought that being a lawyer and all that Omrie Golly, especially considering his activities with the notorious and murderous RUF, the man would advise himself and live quietly.

The former RUF spokesman was outrightly rejected by the NPRC delegation from participating in the first meeting between the rebels and the Sierra Leone government because of the double role he had played in the war.

 He left the conference with his head down. He was later to again cooperate with Johnny Paul Koroma’s arsonist and limb cutting AFRC for which he was jailed and now he cries foul. These people sometimes would make me want to throw up but they and others like them always receive a warm embrace from the APC.

 

 

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