By Joseph Turay
The bye election that took place in ward 155 in Koinadugu District which the opposition cried foul over the result which was announced by the electoral commission(NEC) is soon to be contested.
in a press conference organized by the opposition, All People’s Congress (APC) at their headquarter, 11A Old Railway Line, Freetown, the Secretary General Dr. Osman Foday Yasanneh highlighted, that, there were instances of institutionalized electoral malpractice involving staff of the National Electoral (NEC) and the manner in which that institution conducted the by elections in Koinadugu for District council chairman and ward 155 held on 2nd October 2021.
The Secretary General continued to state that during these elections “our polling agents caught staff of NEC directly tampering with results and altering them in favor of the governing Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP); and during the tally process for the councilor for wards 155, the ICT staff tampered with the results for station (1), at the MCA primary school in Fumbakoro in favor of the SLPP. also, the correct scores which were 049 for SLPP and 083 for APC for that station, signed by NEC officials, polling agents and observers, were fraudulently entered by a NEC staff as 149 for SLPP, leaving the APC votes the same, that this was what criminally inflated the SLPP candidate’s votes by an extra 100 and fraudulently affected the final outcome of the bye election for councilor for ward 155, that the reconciliation and result forms (RRF) clearly confirm the facts.
He continued that, they produced our copies of the RRF signed by NEC officers and polling agents which carried the same figures as those on the original copy in NEC’s custody, yet the presiding commissioner, Edmond Alpha from the southern region who was sent to oversee elections in north refused to make the necessary correction before making the provisional announcement of the results.
He asked the APC to raise objections with the commission which they did in a letter addressed to the chairman of the commission on 5th October 2021. Regrettably, the chairman ignored the evidence we provided and went ahead on Wednesday, 6th October 2021 to confirm the results. This gives credence to the spate of institutionalized electoral fraud being perpetrated by a collusion of NEC officers and knows SLPP operatives, says by the secretary general.
He further noted that on Sunday 3rd October 2021 during the tally process for the District council chairman election in kabala, the Assistant Director of operations-Northern Region, Mr. Paul M. Damba was caught tampering with results in favor of the SLPP when he criminally changed the SLPP results from 069 to 169 for polling centre code 06096, MCA primary school, alkalia(station1).
In his statement he added that in another instance, at the same polling centre and location (station 3), the NEC officers swapped the figures. Instead of recording APC 122 and SLPP 088, they recorded APC 088 and SLPP 122. This discovery forced commissioner Edmond Alpha to correct the numbers and Mr. Damba, the electoral crime perpetrator was removed from the electoral process pending further investigations.
He stressed that, these incidents and number of others, including electoral disruptions perpetrated by government ministers on polling day was also reported by the National Elections watch (NEW).
That Sierra Leoneans and international community have invested so much in trying to nurture and sustain democracy in Sierra Leone , that a lot of resources and effort have also gone into reforming NEC to strengthen its capacity to conduct credible elections.
Regrettably, what the commission has demonstrated is the highest degree of electoral fraud that renders the entire electoral process irrelevant if NEC officials can change results with impunity. This will not undermine confidence in the ability of NEC to conduct credible elections; it will also threaten the peace and stability of this nation.
He therefore demand an immediate recount of the votes for ward 155 based on NEC certified RRFs be conducted with a view to making sure that they reflect the will of the Koinadugu electorate; adding that if this is not done, the APC will take appropriate court actions against the NEC officials involved in the perpetration of electoral fraud; and getting the national electoral commission to respect the law and international electoral practices.
The APC will utilize all legal and reasonable means at our disposal to continue to seek redress.