By Amin Kef Sesay
In a letter dated the 25th October 2021 by Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Esq JFK & Partners addressed to Mohammed K. Konneh Chief Electoral Commissioner of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) copying the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice and the Secretary General of the All People’s Congress (APC) Party, Amb Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh it was stated that they have been consulted and their services retained by the Secretary-General, Amb. Dr Osman Foday Yansaneh, on behalf of the All People’s Congress to challenge and petition the declared results of the Local Council Elections, for Ward 155, Constituency 046 in the Koinadugu District.
It was further highlighted that the Chief Electoral Commissioner 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.
JFK and Partners stated that their 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”).
It was pointed out that the inaccurate entry was in respect of the total number of votes cast in favour of Kalie Thoronka (“SLPP”). Stated was that 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 favor.
The Lawyers stated that 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.
It continued that 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 and NEC officials conducting the tallying processes were promptly notified.
According to JFK & Partners, 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.
They furthered that 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, they stated, 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, 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,” JFK & Partners reminded but said regrettably, notwithstanding the letter of the Secretary-General and protestations from the APC, he, Mohamed K. Konneh, Chief Electoral Commissioner, proceeded to announce the final results naming the SLPP candidate, Kallie 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.
According to them, their 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.
JFK & Partners say in the light of the above, they 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.
They continued by saying needless to say, timing is of the essence, as the reputational risk facing the National Electoral Commission, is on the brink.
JFK & Partners concluded that the onus is on the shoulders of Mohammed Konneh, to rescue the impugned image and preserve the inalienable right of the people, to choose their leaders.