5 February 2018

Sierra Leone: NEC Rejects APC Petition Appeal

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) headquarters in Freetown has upheld the previous ruling handed down by the Kambia District Returning Officer in a petition against the candidature of Dr.Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, presidential candidate of the National Grand Coalition (NGC).

Dr. Yumkella's provisional parliamentary nomination was petitioned by All Peoples Congress Party (APC) parliamentary candidate Abu Bakarr Sankoh at the NEC office in Kambia District on grounds that the former holds a dual citizenship and that he is ineligible to run for parliament.

The grounds of the said objection read thus: "That the said Yumkella Kandeh Kolleh is a dual citizen of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the United States of America in violation of section 76(1a) Act No.6 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone and the Public Elections Act (Act No.4) of 2012. In addition to this, a document with further explanation in support of the objection was hereto attached."

But the Kambia NEC District office had ruled in favour of Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, who is also a parliamentary candidate in Constituency 062, Kambia district, northern Sierra Leone.

Kambia District Returning Officer, Umaru Fomba, said "the evidence is insufficient to reverse the provisional nomination of Yumkella Kandeh Kolleh," thus rejecting the APC objection, adding "the provisional nomination of Yumkella Kandeh Kolleh as a candidate for Constituency 062, Parliamentary Election is upheld."

As expected, the APC appealed the ruling at NEC headquarters in Freetown.

However, the objection has suffered the fate as in Kambia as NEC noted that: "Having critically examined the probative basis upon which the objection was made at first instance and in consideration of the decision of the District Returning Officer that the evidence on which the said objection is based is insufficient to reverse the provisional nomination of Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, the commission has decided to uphold the decision of the Returning Officer on 24th January, 2018 for the same reasons that the objection was rejected at first instance."

They further noted that the commission was not provided with any evidence that suggest that the Returning Officer fell into error either legally or procedurally or that he failed to take into account all the relevant facts.

"The commission is therefore satisfied that there is no basis for overturning the returning officer's decision. In conclusion therefore, please note that this decision is final and shall not be questioned in proceeding whatsoever, except by way of an election petition pursuant to section 63 of the Public Elections Act Supra."

Commenting on the ruling, Campaign Communication lead of the NGC,Dr.Julius Spencer told Concord Times that they knew that would be the outcome of the appeal and that the ruling was a further embarrassment to the APC who are bent on carving a way to disenfranchise Dr.Yumkella.

Dr. Spencer had famously described the petition as 'frivolous' and that they have all evidence to prove that the NGC presidential candidate had renounced his US citizenship.

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