Sierra Leone Electoral Commissioner dragged to the High Court

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 March 2018:

With just seven days left before the people of Sierra Leone return to the polling booth to cast their votes in the run-off election scheduled for 27 March 2018, a High Court Summons has been filed by Mr. Ibrahim Sorie Koroma of Port Loko District – a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of Sierra Leone and a ruling APC party supporter, following numerous accusations of large-scale ballot box stuffing and other electoral misdemeanors.

Although many Sierra Leoneans would welcome this legal action, it will however have no impact on the run-off that will take place next Tuesday. According to leaked court document received by the Sierra Leone Telegraph, Mr. Ibrahim Sorie Koroma is asking the court to order the NEC to comply within the next fourteen days, when the result of the presidential election run-off would have been announced.

But if an order is granted by the court, it may significantly affect many of the parliamentary seats that have so far been decided. Mr. Ibrahim Sorie Koroma says that his court application pertains to “Section 33 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991; and Sections 7, 8 and 43 of the Public Elections Act No. 4 of 2012, with regards the conduct of transparent, free and fair elections in the republic of Sierra Leone”.

He said that the aim of his action is to seek “consequential orders to aid the delivery of credible free and fair elections in the Republic of Sierra Leone.”

Mr. Ibrahim Sorie Koroma is taking action against the chief electoral commissioner – 1st defendant (Photo); the national electoral commission – 2nd defendant; and the attorney-general & minister of justice – 3rd defendant. Mr. Ibrahim Sorie Koroma is represented by Lansana Dumbuya ESQ. This is what he is asking the court to do:

1. An order directing the Auditor-General and or any other competent/qualified Persons/Firm appointed by this Honourable Court within 7 days from the date of the Order to conduct a forensic audit on the internal systems of the 1st and 2nd Defendants, and the entire electioneering system conducted by the 1st and 2nd Defendants on 7th March 2018, and to prepare a report and make recommendations therefrom within 14 days of such recruitment.

2. An order directing the 1st and 2nd Defendants to manually recount all elections results including all cancelled over voting ballots and voided ballots emanating from the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections as conducted on the 7th March, 2018, throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone in accordance with the Public Elections Act No. 4 of 2012.

3. An order directing the Defendants especially the 1st and 2nd Defendants to produce all Reconciliation Result Forms (RRF) taken and recorded against all votes cast in each Ward, Constituency, District and Region in the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections as conducted on the 7th March, 2018 together with the full list of all polling managers/officers in each polling station.

4. An order directing the Defendants to produce evidence of all registrants in each polling station, constituencies, Districts and the list of actual voters at the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections as conducted on the 7th March, 2018.

5. An interim injunction restraining the Defendants in particular the 1st and 2nd Defendants from further announcing Presidential, Parliamentary or Local Council Elections results as conducted throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone on 7th March, 2018 pending the hearing and determination of this application.

6. An interlocutory injunction restraining the Defendants in particular the 1st and 2nd Defendants from further announcing or publishing Presidential, Parliamentary or Local Council Elections results as conducted throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone on the 7th March, 2018 pending the hearing and determination of this action.

7. An interim injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd Defendants from conducting the Presidential Election scheduled for March 27th 2018 pending the hearing and determination of this application.

8. An interlocutory injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd Defendants from conducting the Presidential Election scheduled for March 27th 2018 pending the hearing and determination of this action.

9. That in the event a recount is ordered as prayed for in paragraph three (3) above and it results to a run-off election, that this Honourable Court makes the following further Orders-:

a) That NEC should ensure that both Political Parties’ agents are given Tamper Evidence Envelop (TEE) containing signed copies of election results at each Polling Station across the country;

b) That the results from the Districts and/or Regions be manually transferred to the NEC National Tally Centre and/or Headquarters in a transparent and all-inclusive manner;

c) That political parties’ accredited agents monitor the transportation and transfer of all Sensitive Polling Materials;

d) That a review of staff in critical areas of the process including in-putters, reviewers and tally centre managers be conducted to enhance the credibility of the system;

e) That all registered persons with some form of identification, whether with the NEC identification, voter Slip or National Identity Card shall be allowed to vote in the run-off;

f) That at the close of polling at every Centre, counting must be manually done in the presence of Security Forces and Political Party representatives, who must verify in writing that the process was transparent;

g) That all Ballot Boxes containing the counted ballots must be sealed in the presence of both Political party’s agents and returned to NEC Headquarters, accompanied by security personnel’s;

h) That all elections result must be published at each Polling Stations immediately after the counting of ballots and the published results must be signed by Political Party representatives present during voting;

i) That all Political Party’ Agents, Security Personnel and Elections Official working at a particular station on the day of elections shall have the rights to cast their votes at that particular Station; further, to the above, that NEC Staff and Security Personnel’s be made to vote in separate ballot boxes in order to avoid the issue of over-voting in that particular station.

j) That the 2nd Defendant be directed to send a full list of the Ballot boxes and the serial numbers of their tags to each Political Parties prior to election;

k) That in the event of void ballots been identified that such ballots be counted and the total number published together with the results.

10. Any other or further Order(s) that this Honourable Court may deem fit and just in the circumstances.

11. That the costs of the action be costs in the Cause.

Mr Ibrahim Sorie Koroma is hoping that the High Court will consider the following evidence he is proffering to the court in his affidavit:

I, IBRAHIM SORIE KOROMA, Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of Sierra Leone and of No. 9 Foday Dalmodu Street, Lungi, Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom, in the Port Loko District, in the Northern Province of the Republic of Sierra Leone, make Oath and say as follows:

1. That I am a Sierra Leonean and a registered voter in the March 7th 2018, Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections and I make this Affidavit on my own personal behalf. A Photostat copy of my Voter Identification Card is now produced and shown to me, and is hereby exhibited and marked (“ISK1”).

2. That the Defendants are all Stakeholders in the March 7th 2018, Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections.

3. That the 1st Defendant is the head of the 2nd Defendant and the National Returning Officer of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

4. That the 2nd Defendant is the Institution established by law to register voters, prepare a register of voters, delimit constituencies and wards, regulate the nominations of candidates for elections, and to conduct all Public Elections and referenda throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, amongst others.

5. That the 3rd Defendant is the Principal Legal Adviser to the Government of Sierra Leone and a major Stakeholder in the March 7th 2018, Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections.

6. That on the 7th March, 2018, the 1st and 2nd Defendants conducted elections throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone for Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government offices.

7. That I am aware that after the said Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections, the 1st and 2nd Defendants and their representatives based on their statutory mandate, counted the votes casted in each Polling station.

8. That the data collected from each Polling Centre was supposed to be entered into a Reconciliation and Result Form (RRF). That upon investigation, I was privy to see samples of the said RRF form used by the Defendants to enter the said data for purposes of analysis. (Photostat copies of the said RRF are now produced and shown to me, and are hereby exhibited and marked “ISK2A-D”).

9. That analysis of the said Exhibits 2, now reveal that the constituencies named therein do not exist but the said RRFs bear the stamps of the 2nd Defendant indicating that they were used as valid instrument for purposes of recording votes already purportedly counted electronically and approved by the 2nd Defendant.

That I am also aware that there has been a huge outcry of votes rigging across the country and that all the major political parties have demanded a recount of all disputed poll results while challenging the credibility of the elections. (Photostat copies of the Letters written to the 1st Defendant in that regard are now produced and shown to me, and are hereby exhibited and marked “ISK3A-E”).

10. That the 1st and 2nd Defendants have already annulled the results of 221 Polling Stations across the country as a result of unexplained rigging, or over voting related circumstances. Photostat copies of the Statement from the Official Website of the 2nd Defendant is now produced and shown to me, and are hereby exhibited and marked “ISK4”

11. That I have been informed and verily believe that the 2nd
Defendant has commenced the recounting of ballot papers from different parts of the country and that the revelation is a massive scheme of fraud. (A Photostat copy of the Press Release confirming the initial counting is now shown to me, exhibited and marked “Exhibit ISK5”).

12. That I am also informed and verily believe that the recounting revealed that although there was evidence of over-voting, there is substantial evidence that there is huge discrepancies in the regions with respect to the number of registered voters, the figures imputed in the RRF and the actual number of voters in the March 7th Elections. (A Photostat copy of the Notice from the 2nd Defendant confirming disparity is now produced and shown to me, exhibited and is hereby exhibited and marked “ISK6”).

13. That I am also aware that as a result of these revelations, the outcome of the recount contradicts the earlier results counted and the consequences are a massive scale of violence, which has been confirmed by the Defendants and Foreign Partners of Government (Photostat copies of Public Notices in this regard are now produced and shown to me, and is hereby exhibited and marked “ISK7”).

14. That I believe as a voter that as a consequence of the recounting of the ballot papers and the revelations therefrom, the incidents of malpractice as evident in those circumstances are not merely isolated, which the 1st and 2nd Defendants confirmed and for which the Defendants’ have been blamed.

15. That by virtue of paragraph 16 above, I am of the strongest conviction more than ever before, that the malpractices as shown in the recounted Polling Stations/Centres so far are widespread and systematic and that in the future particularly for the imminent run-off elections an order directing the Defendants to conduct a manual recount of all ballot papers across the country will ensure that the process is transparent and credible and will show an accurate tallied result.

16. That the spirit of the Public Elections Act and the purpose of conducting the said elections is to ensure that only the people who are legitimately voted for by the people of Sierra Leone become leaders and representatives of the people and that can only now clearly be ascertained by a manual recount of all ballot papers across the country, which are reported not executing 2,600,000.

17. That I believe inter alia that the consequences of not granting the orders prayed and allowing the Defendants to proceed in the manner they wish to, will culminate into further chaos especially in the face of manifest election irregularities that threatens our fragile peace and democracy as a nation.

That I believe inter alia that the consequences of not granting the Orders prayed for and allowing the Defendants to proceed in the manner they wish similar to what transpired on the 7th of March, 2018 and thereafter, will culminate into further chaos, especially in the face of manifest election irregularities that threaten our fragile peace and democracy as a nation; further to that, the integrity of our Sovereign Nation is at stake as the International Community are observing to see if we as a Nation are capable of holding free, fair and credible elections on our own.

18. That I believe that this Honourable Court has a duty on its own, in its inherent jurisdiction, to direct the Defendants to avert the occurrence of unfavourable outcomes resulting into chaos as a result of elections malpractices, which could have been saved by the orders of this Court.

19. That I have the strongest conviction that in light of the heightening political tensions, especially between the two major political parties, nothing will be acceptable if not an adequately transparent election process and clearly credible elections results, which had been doubted by both.

20. That although parties assigned polling agents to all polling stations across the country, political parties received zero votes in many polling station, therefore the assignment of polling staff from one district to another gives confidence to political parties that they are properly represented by trusted agents.

21. That the election results received so far from the 1st and 2nd Defendants are mere bulk figures from districts, which do not reveal the true picture of a comprehensive final result, as it does not indicate a total breakdown of votes received by each candidate from each polling station and centres across the country.

22. That as a result of the huge outcry by all political parties and candidates involved in the March 7th 2018 elections it is proper for an audit to be conducted on the entire election process to ascertain the credibility of the process.

23. That it is expedient that the matters prayed for herein be resolved before the run-off election takes place, it is therefore necessary for the court to grant an injunction preventing the 1st and 2nd Defendants from pronouncing any further result and from conducting the run-off election scheduled for 27th March 20178.

24. That I make this Affidavit in support of the Application herein filed on the date of the jurat.

25. That the contents of this affidavit are true and correct, to the best of my knowledge information and belief.

2 Comments

  1. What is the main reason that the APC and President Ernest Koroma who is their leader for life dragging the commissioner to court? Is it for the parliamentary votes they have already won majority of or the presidential votes that they lost? I personally believe that all this problem started in 2007 when the former Electoral commissioner who used to be a catholic nun but decided to turn her back on Jesus Christ and worship president Ernest Koroma, decided to impose this dictator on us and now we are in this quagmire because the APC are about to lose the presidency.

    My advice to the President is to just pack up your belongings and leave in peace and not in pieces instead of inciting your party member to delay your departure because the people have already spoken through the ballot box; and all we need from you is to show respect.

  2. GOOD MOVE. Hearing the results of these recent elections left me baffled about the rush to a run-off when the unsavoury issues emanating from the exercise have not been carefully delineated and addressed by some Ombudsman or multi-party commission to avoid the same mistakes.

    One key question I have is this: Is the mathematics fudged? I am asking this because after the first count and recount of 75% of the votes cast, APC was trailing SLPP by 15,000 votes. Then came the cancellation of votes from over 200 polling stations. Do these constitute all the 25% remaining ballots. If so, the results should should remain the same because there was 0% added to the counted 75%.

    However, if some polling stations were counted above and beyond the announced 75%, unless the SLPP and APC polled the same number of votes, the probability that the difference remains about the same at approximately 15,000 approaches 0%. NEC never clarified this point when they announced the final round of results.

    It looks like some forgery took place here.The attorney is right in bringing this matter to the courts to have an Ombudsman examine how NEC got the same results twice after cancellation of some polling stations without a detailed explanation of what took place.

    It is not enough to say we cancelled some areas due to irregularities, using the prerogative and powers vested in us by the constitution, without detailing these irregularities.

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