Liberia: NEC's Woes Continue

Photo: VOA
Jerome Kokoya, the head of Liberia's National Elections Commission

Defeated independent representative candidate of Montserrado electoral district #3, Josiah Flomo Joekai, yesterday testified before the National Elections Commission's hearing office and alleged that the October 10 polls' irregularities and frauds were orchestrated by Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, chairman of the NEC and his co-workers.

Recounting his testimony from the disputed elections on behalf of Unity Party, Joekai said Korkoya, along with his fellow members of the Board of Commissioners were negligent and unconcerned about the constitutional crisis that could erupt from the conduct of the elections without a credible final voter roll.

"I illegally voted at the Baillie Call Christian Institute in my district only because my particulars were not found on the final register roll (FRR) in the possession of the NEC staff. I was asked to allow my name be included on the addendum after my particulars were displayed on the cell phone screen of the presiding officer who said he used the short message system (SMS) introduced by the Commission to trace the particulars of a registered voter," he said.

Joekai, who formerly worked for the NEC as a special assistant to former NEC chairman James Fromoyan and later served as the director of civic voter education, accused Korkoya of lying under oath before the House of Senate to speak to the omission of voters names on the FRR.

"Korkoya was not fair to the Senate when he said that the total number of missing names on the FRR was 13,000. It was more than that and it was clearly reflected on October 10 when many persons far beyond his announced 13,000 did not find their names on the FRR," he said, adding that the October post-elections' problems were forecast at the time of the voter registration.

The defeated representative candidate who graciously accepted his failure at the polls and is yearning "for a peaceful runoff" election, said Korkoya and staff lack the capacity to conduct any credible elections.

"The FRR that the NEC boasts of today has lots of lapses and it was only published at the eleventh hour based on public pressure mounted on the Commission. I told them in one of my articles that they should not compromise the final voter roll if there is anything worth calling a credible, free, fair and transparent election," Joekai noted.

He pointed out that Korkoya's statement, calling on all voters with valid voting cards even though their names were not found on the FRR created the quagmire that the country is faced with today.

"To tell you that Korkoya's leadership has failed in many aspects in the conduct of our country's electoral processes, one of his fellow commissioners, Jonathan K. Weedor distanced himself from Korkoya's statement and stood his ground that the Commission was on a bad footing," he said.

Testifying on the alleged discovery of ballot papers in Kwenabu, electoral district #2 of Grand Gedeh County, Otto Saye Blayton said the ballot papers discovered were not "your candidate's ballots."

"Those ballots that the NEC continues to inform the public of as being civic voter education materials were original ballots and they were marked. The ballots were discovered behind a fenced bathroom by the daughter of Blaye Town chief, while she was in search of her bath soap," Blayeton said.

He said the ballots were dug from a hole on October 24 and a police officer was invited to escort the finders to the NEC magistrate's office for identification, acknowledgment of receipt and reporting to the headquarters of the Commission.

"We took photos and did video recording, even though we were stopped from doing so by the police. We did that so that when NEC denies tomorrow, as it has done already, some of us could come forward to testify against their misinformation to the public," he explained.

He said Grand Gedeh's NEC Magistrate, Mr. Arthur C. Y. Duogee denied claims that the ballots were official voting ballots on a local radio station even though the ballots were indeed official ballots.

"Mr. Duogee said to the people of Grand Gedeh on Top FM that the ballots were not official voting ballots. I say here that Mr. Duogee lied to the public because we saw with our own eyes that the ballots we reported to him were official ballots, not any educational ballot papers," he said.

Blayeton noted that he knows that the valid candidate ballots have red and green lines for presidential and representative at the back, while the 'know your candidate ballots' had no line at the back, neither are they smaller, as the original ballots.

Joekai and Blayeton were two of the four witnesses who testified against the Commission yesterday in an effort to validate UP's reason for intervening in the Liberty Party's case.

Earlier, on the witness stand were UP's vice chairman for political affairs, Cole Bangalu and Unay Belleh of Grand Gedeh, who also testified in the alleged voter cards discovery.

Reacting to the witnesses' testimonies, NEC counsels, Cllr. Alexander Zoe and Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, said the witnesses have no facts in connection to the UP, LP and other parties' accusations against the Commission.

UP's legal team, led by Cllr. Varney G. Sherman said that the hearing will not continue today (Nov. 14) or any other time, if the NEC refuses to provide the FRR in their possession. They also requested the NEC legal team to also agree not blemish the Commission furthermore.

It may be recalled that the Unity Party chairman, Wilmot Paye, over the weekend admitted that his party discovered, acknowledged and participated in doing the very wrongs they are today accusing the NEC of committing.

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