Sheriff Mahmud Ismail: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 November 2022:
Like the Voter Registration Exercise, the exhibition and verification is turning out to be a sham due to series of hitches the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone seems to have deliberately put in the way of the verification process.
Since the first day, there have been many reports from different participants and stakeholders highlighting the incompleteness of the register, the lack of publicity of the exercise and the fact that the five days period allocated for the process is too limited.
In some centres in Aberdeen, Western Urban, surnames starting with the letter ‘K’ were not available in the register until the affected persons protested. While verifying in Congo Town, at centre number 16210 in Constituency 129, Western Urban, I noticed the photographs of several registrants on the roll were absent.
Also, at same Centre, there was no exhibition of the provisional register, making the verification process rather nondescript as you can see in the video accompanying this article. And it is obvious that much of the community is not even aware that a verification is going on. When I asked the ECSL personnel why they did not exhibit the register, they told me that ECSL gave them one copy only.
The impact of the muted nature of the exercise is enormous: very few people are turning up to verify. At the Congo Town centred referred to, there were 1,935 registrants. But as at 12pm today, Saturday, the third day of the exhibition/verification, only 288 people had verified -106 on the first day, 98 on day two, and on day three as at 12pm, only 84 registrants had verified their details.
At this current pace, with only two days left, it is highly unlikely that half of the registrants in that centre would present themselves for verification. What would be the ramifications should any of them has any issues with their credentials after the Voters Identification Card would have been produced, is a discussion for another day.
For now, I believe that it is imperative for ALL the Flagbearer aspirants of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) to come together on the voter register, reach out to members of the Coalition of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP). Jointly, they should lead the charge for a collective and formidable representation to the relevant stakeholders, highlighting the challenges and demanding for workable solutions.
Failure to present a united front and challenge the anomalies lacerating the Voters Register would result in rancorous election whose outcome would not reflect the will of the electorate.