Opposition APC takes legal action against electoral body accused of bye-election vote rigging

Opposition APC takes legal action against electoral body accused of bye-election vote rigging
Opposition APC takes legal action against electoral body accused of bye-election vote rigging

Africa-Press – Sierra-Leone. JFK & Partners – the law firm acting on behalf of Sierra Leone’s main opposition party – the All Peoples’ Congress Party (APC) has written a letter to the country’s Chief Electoral Commissioner of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mr Mohammed K. Konneh to inform him that the firm has been instructed by the Secretary-General of the APC – Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh to take legal action against the NEC for alleged electoral malpractices.

This legal action comes after reports of NEC officials falsifying tallying records at the recently held bye-elections in Koinadugu, which gave the ruling SLPP party an advantage.

There is growing concern, as presidential and general elections scheduled for 2022/2023 draw closer, that such malpractice may seriously lead to widespread violence and instability in the country if allowed to continue.

We have been consulted and our services retained by the Secretary-General, Amb. Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh, on behalf of the All Peoples Congress (“APC”), a registered political party in Sierra Leone, to challenge and petition the declared results of the Local Council Elections, for Ward 155, Constituency 046, Koinadugu District.

You may recall that on the 2nd October 2021, pursuant to section 33 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991, the National Electoral Commission (“NEC”), conducted Local Council elections for Ward 155, Constituency 046, aforesaid.

Our instructions are that the tallying process for the election for Ward 155 commenced peacefully. All the entries were verified without incident, until it came to the last entry for Station one (1) MCA Primary School, Fumbakoro, where it was detected that the NEC ICT team made an inaccurate /and or fraudulent entry, inconsistent with the particulars on NEC’s Results Reconciliation Form (“RRF”).

The inaccurate entry was in respect of the total number of votes cast in favour of KALIE THORONKA (“SLPP”). Instead of entering 049, as recorded in the RRF Form, 149 was purportedly entered intentionally, to give numerical advantage to the said KALIE THORONKA (“SLPP”), thereby resulting in an extra 100 votes in his favour.

Quite astonishingly, on the 5th October 2021, the Acting Regional Commissioner North, Edmond Alpha, declared KALIE THORONKA, of the SLPP, winner of the Ward 155 election.

Not surprisingly, the APC Accredited Agents, Dr. Richard Konteh and Dr. Kaifallah Marrah, present at the Wellington Tallying Center, raised objections to the discrepancy on the RRF Forms and NEC’s entry. NEC Officials conducting the tallying processes were promptly notified.

Duplicate copies of the RRFs which had the same figures as the original copies in the custody of NEC, were produced for verification and examination. A formal demand was made to the NEC Officials, insisting that the inaccurate entries be reversed and properly entered, to reflect the true figures contained in the RRFs.

However, the protestation by the APC accredited agents and the production of duplicate RRFs, to back the claim of inaccurate entries, fell on deaf ears, as the Acting Commissioner North, Mr. Edmond Alpha, dismissed and overrule the objections, and suggested that complaints be forwarded to the National Electoral Commission.

You will further recall, that the Secretary-General of the APC, Amb. Dr. Alhaji Foday Yansaneh aforesaid, wrote a letter to your good-self, vehemently protesting against the provisional results, and that the NEC ICT team, manipulated and entered the wrong figures, giving undue advantage to the SLPP candidate.

Regrettably, notwithstanding the letter of the Secretary-General and protestations from the APC, you, Mohamed K. Konneh, Chief Electoral Commissioner, proceeded to announce the final results naming the SLPP candidate, Kalie Thoronka, as the winner of the 2nd October 2021, Bye election for the vacant Council seat in Ward 155, Koinadugu District, without any further probe.

Our Petition is anchored on the grounds that the conduct of the 2021 Local Council Bye elections, Ward 155, Constituency 046, Koinadugu District, violated the principles of a free and fair election, as well as, the electoral processes, electoral laws and regulations provided for in the Public Elections Act, 2012. Notably the improper practice of NEC Electoral staff, to deliberately alter the entry on the RRF Form, by converting 049 to 149.

In the light of the above, we urge that NEC do the needful and publish in the Sierra Leone Gazette, the accurate results of 2021 Local Council Bye elections, Ward 155, Constituency 046, Koinadugu District, as required by law, and being cognizant of sections 139 and 140 of the Public Elections Act 2012.

Needless to say, timing is of the essence, as the reputational risk facing the National Electoral Commission, is on the brink. The onus is on your shoulders, Mr. Mohammed Konneh, to rescue the impugned image and preserve the inalienable right of our people, to choose their leaders.

As always, please accept the assurances of our esteemed regards and we wish you well, as you navigate troubled waters, in your endeavours.

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