Opposition APC takes legal action against electoral body accused of bye-election vote rigging

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 October 2021:

JFK & Partners – the law firm acting on behalf of Sierra Leone’s main opposition party – the All Peoples’ Congress Party (APC) has written a letter to the country’s Chief Electoral Commissioner of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mr Mohammed K. Konneh to inform him that the firm has been instructed by the Secretary-General of the APC – Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh to take legal action against the NEC for alleged electoral malpractices.

This legal action comes after reports of NEC officials falsifying tallying records at the recently held bye-elections in Koinadugu, which gave the ruling SLPP party an advantage.

There is growing concern, as presidential and general elections scheduled for 2022/2023 draw closer, that such malpractice may seriously lead to widespread violence and instability in the country if allowed to continue.

This is what the letter says:

NOTICE TO PETITION LOCAL COUNCIL ELECTION-WARD 155, CONSTITUENCY 046, KOINADUGU DISTRICT ON ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPER PRACTICES BY ELECTORAL OFFICERS, CONTRARY TO SECTIONS 114 & 115 OF THE PUBLIC ELECTIONS ACT 2012

We have been consulted and our services retained by the Secretary-General, Amb. Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh, on behalf of the All Peoples Congress (“APC”), a registered political party in Sierra Leone, to challenge and petition the declared results of the Local Council Elections, for Ward 155, Constituency 046, Koinadugu District.

You may recall that on the 2nd October 2021, pursuant to section 33 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991, the National Electoral Commission (“NEC”), conducted Local Council elections for Ward 155, Constituency 046, aforesaid.

Our instructions are that the tallying process for the election for Ward 155 commenced peacefully. All the entries were verified without incident, until it came to the last entry for Station one (1) MCA Primary School, Fumbakoro, where it was detected that the NEC ICT team made an inaccurate /and or fraudulent entry, inconsistent with the particulars on NEC’s Results Reconciliation Form (“RRF”).

The inaccurate entry was in respect of the total number of votes cast in favour of KALIE THORONKA (“SLPP”). Instead of entering 049, as recorded in the  RRF Form,  149 was purportedly entered intentionally, to give numerical advantage to the said KALIE THORONKA (“SLPP”), thereby resulting in an extra 100 votes in his favour.

Quite astonishingly, on the 5th October 2021, the Acting Regional Commissioner North, Edmond Alpha, declared KALIE THORONKA, of the SLPP, winner of the Ward 155 election.

Not surprisingly, the APC Accredited Agents, Dr. Richard Konteh and Dr. Kaifallah Marrah, present at the Wellington Tallying Center, raised objections to the discrepancy on the RRF Forms and NEC’s entry. NEC Officials conducting the tallying processes were promptly notified.

Duplicate copies of the RRFs which had the same figures as the original copies in the custody of NEC, were produced for verification and examination. A formal demand was made to the NEC Officials, insisting that the inaccurate entries be reversed and properly entered, to reflect the true figures contained in the RRFs.

However, the protestation by the APC accredited agents and the production of duplicate RRFs, to back the claim of inaccurate entries, fell on deaf ears, as the Acting Commissioner North, Mr. Edmond Alpha, dismissed and overrule the objections, and suggested that complaints be forwarded to the National Electoral Commission.

You will further recall, that the Secretary-General of the APC, Amb. Dr. Alhaji Foday Yansaneh aforesaid, wrote a letter to your good-self, vehemently protesting against the provisional results, and that the NEC ICT team, manipulated and entered the wrong figures, giving undue advantage to the SLPP candidate.

Regrettably, notwithstanding the letter of the Secretary-General and protestations from the APC, you, Mohamed K. Konneh, Chief Electoral Commissioner, proceeded to announce the final results naming the SLPP candidate, Kalie Thoronka, as the winner of the 2nd October 2021, Bye election for the vacant Council seat in Ward 155, Koinadugu District, without any further probe.

Our Petition is anchored on the grounds that the conduct of the 2021 Local Council Bye elections, Ward 155, Constituency 046, Koinadugu District, violated the principles of a free and fair election, as well as, the electoral processes, electoral laws and regulations provided for in the Public Elections Act, 2012. Notably the improper practice of NEC Electoral staff, to deliberately alter the entry on the RRF Form, by converting 049 to 149.

In the light of the above, we urge that NEC do the needful and publish in the Sierra Leone Gazette, the accurate results of 2021 Local Council Bye elections, Ward 155, Constituency 046, Koinadugu District, as required by law, and being cognizant of sections 139 and 140 of the Public Elections Act 2012.

Needless to say, timing is of the essence, as the reputational risk facing the National Electoral Commission, is on the brink. The onus is on your shoulders, Mr. Mohammed Konneh, to rescue the impugned image and preserve the inalienable right of our people, to choose their leaders.

As always, please accept the assurances of our esteemed regards and we wish you well, as you navigate troubled waters, in your endeavours.

Yours faithfully, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Esq (Commander of the Order of the Republic of Sierra Leone) CoRSL

Cc:

The Attorney-General & Minister of Justice

Amb. Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh

4 Comments

  1. The issue of assumption now gripped the minds of the people who are deeply interested to see that their candidate win the election. In my opinion, I believe NEC is a professional institution established under an Act of Parliament to perform its functions professionally without favor. Let the law take its cause. The idea of strongholds in party politics is going to diminish with time as we continue to have a well educated population. People now vote people and party into power based on result-based evident on the ground. Under his watch, my president, your president, our president Dr. Julius Maada Bio and his government have done very great work for the people of this community more than any other government or leader before. I believe the people now know that my president, your president, our president Dr. Julius Maada Bio is a true and reliable president that is ready to better the lives and livelihoods of their existence in that part of the country more than any other person else. Showing gratitude to someone who cares about you and your livelihood is the best policy in life.

    Koinadugu District Decedants, please note one thing that you should not forget. The reign of power has been in the hands of the All Peoples Congress Party for decades since independence. But if you were to count on anything tangible that this party leadership and government did for your community within these periods is nothing to write home about. All was just meant for their personal gains. But under his leadership, my president, your president our president Dr. Julius Maada Bio, being a reformist and compassionate leader has tried to show case to the world at large that your vote matters much to develop your community and livelihoods.

    You did tried in the past to show solidarity to your community people to vote in the party of your choices in the past and what happens then was just a surprise to note that they never returned back home to build your communities and change your livelihoods Come to the city there you can find all their assets and businesses. Vote him (Dr. Julius Maada Bio) 2023 you shall never regret it.

  2. This legal challenge brought against the National Electoral commission, challenging the the results of the bye elections at constituency ward 155 in which the NEC declared the SLPP candidate Mr Kalie Thoronkah as the winning candidate in this hotly contested bye elections in Konaidugu District, is a worrying trend that continues to present a real and present danger to our democracy. And it is gaining more currency since Bio and his government assumed power back in 2018.lets not forget due to this incompetent national electoral body, that is constitutionally mandated by law to conduct free and fair elections, has not only proved to be lacking independence from SLPP control, the NEC under the leadership of Mr Mohamed Konneh, but have abandoned all pretence of being independent and now working hand in glove with the Bio government to fraudulently rigg elections in his favour. More like they have an established templates on how to rig elections and they are just following the scripts. After the 2018 presidential elections, ten APC MPs, were forcefully ejected from the wells of the Sierra Leone Parliamentary Chambers.

    And they lodged a complaint to the courts, regarding the constitutionality of it all, and at the end the case was delayed for months, until they were worned down by the slow pace of our legal processes.we all know, Justice delayed is justice denied. Not long ago there were simlar elections dispute in the Freetown peninsula area. Nothing come of it neither. Now the pendulum of elections disputes have swings its way to Koinaidugu District. One of the most peaceful and diverse areas of our country. The NEC electoral machine seems to be corrosive, lacking leadership and in need a comprehensive overhaul, so come 2023, we won’t be subjected to this sort of political situation where the out come of our elections are determined in the polling booth not in the courts rooms. It creates uncertainty, undermine our country’s security. And given President Bio and some of his hot heads cabinet ministers like Hon. Abu Abu , residents minister for Northern province have been busy planting the seeds of division and discord amongst our people, it will only take one misrepresentation of tallying elections results to light up the undercurrents of political fires that have been bubbling down the sufface and plunge our country in to a security nightmare.

    None of us want that. Looking across Africa, and the recent political upheavals that have gripped some of our immediate neighbours and the Horn of Africa , like Mali, Guinea, Ethiopia, The Sudan, South Sudan, if this trends continues,our continent is slowly but surely sleep walking to military dictatorship that dominated the continent in the 1960s , 70s,and 80s.The reasons for this are quite simple, when those entrusted to conduct National elections, are not as independent as they projects themselves to be, and you have a corrupt judiciary that are either in bed with the ruling party, or allergic to making independent decisions brought in front them, put together, it becomes a cocktail of unmitigated disasters. We are still in the embryonic stage of of democracy. Our NEC will do well, not to abort our democracy at this stage of its development cycle. All hands should be on deck, both the government, the NEC, snd all stakeholders in the country to ensure we get the right results people voted for. Not ones that are cooked at State House.

  3. Hahaha. It takes a thief to catch a thief. The All People’s Congress (APC) with their 99 tactics to steal an election is now accusing the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) of devising its own tactics to steal an election? What a comic relief the APC is introducing to our politics. On a closer look at things, it appears the APC is stealing a page from the book of Donald Trump – when you realize that you cannot compete, you cry foul. Why would the APC even allow its opponent to be competitive in an APC stronghold? Does this not indicate how weak the APC has become post 2018?

    The road to 2023 is littered with pitfalls for the opposition. The SLPP does not have to win in the North and the Western area to win the presidency. It only needs to be competitive in these areas and that is exactly what it is doing. Over the last three years, the opposition has become weak in their own stronghold – the North.

    The APC has lost several bye-elections and the National Grand Coalition (NGC) has not even bothered to field candidates. With the exceptions of Bombali and Tonkolili, I do not see any other northern district where the APC will not be seriously challenged in 2023. Conversely, the opposition has made no inroads in the Southeast. While the APC would get votes in Kono district, it will be blown away in Bo, Kenema, Moyamba, Bonthe, Kenema, and Kailahun. So, what this means is that President Bio would only need the 40% of electoral votes that he got in the Western area in 2018 to win the presidency in the first round. Let’s stop this noise about election rigging. The opposition has not done its home work in three years. While the crooked APC has spent this time being disruptive, the NGC, which I joined in 2018, has done nothing to demonstrate to the people of Sierra Leone that it is ready to supplant the SLPP in governance.

    • The NGC needs to take the bull by the horns, however it seems Kandeh Yumkella is unwilling to be radical, he has to bell the cat.

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