By Foday Moriba Conteh
In a Press Statement that was issued by the All People’s Congress (APC) Party on the 8th October 2021 and signed by Amb. Dr Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, National Secretary-General, the party says it wishes to draw the attention of all to yet another instance of institutionalized electoral malpractice involving staff of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the manner in which that institution has conducted the Bye-Elections for the Koinadugu District Council Chairman and Ward 155 held on 2nd October 2021.
The APC Executive Members continue that they note with great concern that during those elections their polling agents caught staff of NEC directly tampering with results and altering them in favour of the governing Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
It was further highlighted that during the tally process for the Councillor for Ward 155, the ICT Staff tampered with the results for Station (1), at the MCA Primary School in Fumbakoro in favour of the SLPP.
Also, the Press Statement continued, 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.
The APC categorically maintained that such was what criminally inflated the SLPP Candidate’s votes by an extra 100 and fraudulently affected the final outcome of the bye-election for the Councillorship for Ward 155. It was stated that the Reconciliation and Result Forms (RRF) clearly confirm the facts.
Also contained in the statement is that they produced their copies of the RRF signed by NEC officers and polling agents which carried the same figures like 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 the North refused to make the necessary correction before making the provisional announcement of the results.
According to the APC, rather, he asked the party 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 APC lamented, the Chairman ignored the evidence they provided and went ahead on Wednesday, 6th October 2021 to confirm the fake results.
Based on what the statement said, such gives credence to the spate of institutionalized electoral fraud being perpetrated by collusion of NEC officers and known SLPP operatives.
The APC said they 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, Paul M. Damba was caught tampering with results in favour of the SLPP when he criminally changed the SLPP result from 069 to 169 for Polling Centre Code 06096, MCA Primary School, Alkalia (Station 1).
The APC added that in another instance, at the same Polling Centre and location (Station 3), the NEC Officers swapped the figures. The party stated that instead of recording APC 122 and SLPP 088, they recorded APC 088 and SLPP 122.
Executive Members of the party said the discovery forced Commissioner Edmund Alpha to correct the numbers and Damba, the electoral crime perpetrator be removed from the electoral process pending further investigations.
According to the APC, those incidents and a number of others, including electoral disruptions perpetrated by Government Ministers on polling day were also reported by the National Elections Watch (NEW).
The APC maintained that Sierra Leoneans and the International Community have invested so much in trying to nurture and sustain democracy in Sierra Leone furthering how a lot of resources and effort have also gone into reforming NEC to strengthen its capacity to conduct credible elections.
Regrettably, the APC said, 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.
It was stated that such will not only undermine confidence in the ability of NEC to conduct credible elections but will also threaten the peace and stability of this country.
“We, therefore, demand that an immediate recount of the votes for Ward 155 based on the NEC certified RRFs be conducted with a view to making sure that they reflect the will of the Koinadugu electorate; identify and take appropriate actions against the NEC officials involved in the perpetration of electoral fraud; and getting the National Electoral Commission to respect the law and best international electoral practices,” the APC Executive stated adding how the APC will utilize all legal and reasonable means at its disposal to continue to seek redress.
It was stated that by the Press Statement they hope democratic State institutions, non-state actors, members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, development partners, the international community and Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad are alive to yet another sad commission of recklessness, indiscipline and lawlessness by State officials.
The APC said what they have witnessed since the Government came to power is a speedy erosion of the country’s democratic credentials and the bye-elections at Constituency 110 and Tonkoh Limba and several other instances of electoral fraud are but a sad testimony to that fact.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper