Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 March 2018:
The High Court of Sierra Leone has today ordered an injunction on the conduct of the country’s presidential runoff election scheduled for 27 March 2018, after initially ruling that the High Court of Sierra Leone has an unlimited jurisdiction to hear complaint made by Mr Ibrahim Sorie Koroma of the ruling APC, against the National Electoral Commission. The hearing is adjourned to Monday 26 March 2018.
Yesterday, 23 March 2018, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) objected that an individual citizen cannot go to court seeking redress on national issues. The court today ruled individual citizens have full, bonafide rights to take NEC and the Government of Sierra Leone to court.
In his capacity as a citizen and voter, Ibrahim Sorie Koroma, a lawyer and former parliamentary candidate under the All People’s Congress, made a court application against NEC and its Chief, requesting an injunction on the presidential runoff election, forensic audit of vote counts, internal systems of the institution.
Allegations of NEC wrong doing are so overwhelming that one must ask question as to how NEC can survive to conduct the runoff. The weight of evidence being brought forward has become a heavy load that could sink NEC. Will it survive to hold a runoff?
Leaders of both APC and SLPP, nor the opposition parties are officially demanding an injunction. There is an unholy cross-party consensus giving oxygen to NEC’s maladministration. This is Sierra Leone.
Even the international observers are turning a blind eye to the preponderance of allegations of electoral malpractice and fraud. Who is calling the shots?
The opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC) is believed to be the party most disenfranchised by this massive vote rigging, and could enter the race again if recount proves that NGC votes were either excluded from the final counting and results, or were simply shared among the two main parties – APC and SLPP.
Sierra leoneans are calling for the entire elections to be run again, if justice is to prevail.
Allegations against NEC are overwhelming. According to Awareness Times a group of University lecturers specialising in Information Technology, have uncovered that votes cast in up to 400 Polling Centers with massive over-voting, were included in the final results announced by Nfa Alie Conteh, the Chief Electoral Commissioner in Sierra Leone.
The numbers of affected votes, according to sources, could potentially run up to figures that if added or removed may have given a 1st round victory to one of the two candidates now running in the second rounds.
Some of the findings reported by Awareness Times include:
1.That on the 7th March, 2018, NEC conducted elections throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone for Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government offices.
2.That after the said Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections, NEC and their representatives based on their statutory mandate, counted the votes casted in each Polling station.
3.That on or around a week prior to the March 7th 2018 elections, NEC made available on their website, for the information of the general public, an information data file containing the list of all Polling Centers, the number of Polling Stations per Polling Center and the grand total of Registered Voters within that Center. The information was in Microsoft Excel format and had its information data fields categorised as Region, District, Constituency, Ward, Centre ID, Centre Name, Count and Stations; where Count represents the total number of Registered Voters per center.
4.That on March 13th 2018, Head of NEC, Mr. Nfa Alie Conteh, announced at a Live Press Conference the national figures for each presidential candidate who contested the March 7th 2018 elections during which he stated that he had decided to declare the results from 221 polling stations around the country as null and void so they had been excluded from the final results. That a Runoff second rounds was ordered since no candidate reached the required 55% threshold. Press Statement he read out was signed, stamped, distributed to the public and uploaded to NEC Website.
5.That Mr. Nfa Alie Conteh on that March 13th 2018 said 221 polling stations were excluded because they “included where the votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters” meaning that he had excluded all Polling Stations where there were more votes cast at those stations than there were registered voters for those stations. That the list of 221 excluded polling stations were subsequently published as a Press Statement and made available to the public on the NEC website.
6.That on a subsequent date, NEC made available on their website an information which they purport to be the Final Results, by polling station, of the March 7th 2018 Presidential election disaggregated by District and published on the website as 16 different information files representing each of the 16 electoral districts. The 16 district information files were in Portable Document Format (PDF) and each file had its information data fields to be District, Registration Center ID, Polling Station Number and finally, Results for each of the presidential candidates of the various political parties who contested the elections.
7.That on professional examination of the data the lecturers were able to identify that indeed 221 polling stations aforementioned, had been excluded from the Final results of first rounds.
8.That whilst continuing their professional examination of the data, the university lecturers realized the sum total of valid votes cast at all polling stations within particular Centers included amongst the Final Results were in excess of the number of registered voters published by NEC as supposed to fall within that particular Center.
9.That using their professional Data Mining skills, they were able to easily extract that 400 of such Polling Centers had their votes included in the Final Results announced by Nfa Alie Conteh, even though these 400 Polling Centers clearly had “votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters”.
10.Using their professional skills, the lecturers created a tabulated breakdown of these 400 polling stations whose data were extracted according to District, Constituency, Ward, Center ID, Center Name, Number of Registered Voters, Total Valid Votes (cast on March 7th 2018), Excess Number of Valid Votes more than Registered Voters and finally, the percentage of such excess over-voting. A printed out copy of this tabulated breakdown is available and has been seen by Awareness Times newspaper. It is published in today’s edition on several pages.
11.That from the data analysis, the over voting data field information was calculated based on the simple fact that the total number of votes cast per Polling Center should not exceed the total number of registered voters at that Center. However, the lecturers still observed massive over voting in these 400 Polling Centers across the country with one ranging as high as 991% and many with over-voting approaching 500%.
12.That the 400 affected polling centers are spread as 131 in Bo District, 90 in Port Loko District, 67 in Moyamba District, 39 in Koinadugu, 23 in Tonkolili, 19 in Falaba, 15 in Karene, 6 in Kono, 5 in Bombali, 2 in Bonthe, 2 in Pujehun and 1 in Kailahun.
13.That it is quite unclear as to how come NEC had stated that “results from 221 polling stations were excluded, including where the votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters” but yet the NEC Chairman, Nfa Alie Conteh, went on to include 400 other polling centers with crystal clear evidence of votes cast having exceeded the number of registered voters – i.e: massive over-voting.
14.That the lecturers believe as registered voters themselves, that as a consequence of the exclusion of 221 polling stations where the “votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters” but with a concomitant inclusion of 400 Polling Centers similarly affected by having “votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters”, they are concerned over the credibility of the Final Results of the first rounds of the presidential elections.
15.That by virtue of all the above, they are of the strongest conviction more than ever before, that the inexplicable inconsistency as shown, may in the future particularly for the imminent run-off elections, produce serious disputes over the credibility of any results therefrom.
16.That the spirit of the Public Elections Act and the purpose of conducting the said elections is to ensure that all legitimate votes by the people of Sierra Leone in choosing leaders and representatives of the people be counted and included with only illegitimate votes to be discarded.
17.That they also believe also that the consequences of NEC to proceed into runoffs in the manner 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 they believe that all must be done to direct NEC to avert the occurrence of unfavourable outcomes resulting into chaos as a result of inconsistencies in excluding votes cast at Polling Stations.
19.That many citizens have the strongest conviction that in light of the heightened 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 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 including why some polling stations got excluded and others got included.
21.That whilst waiting for the audit of the systems that allowed over-voting, it is expedient for an injunction to be sought from the Law Courts preventing NEC from pronouncing any further result and from conducting the run-off election scheduled for 27th March 2018.