Liberia: Insecurity Mars VRU Process in Nimba

Josephus Newon, the registrar, also explained that there is no security at any of centers and it is because of that, those disgruntled persons took advantage to disrupt the process.

As disruption closes registration process at one of the centers

Insecurity to be one of the serious problems facing the Voter Roll Update in many of the registration centers in across Nimba, leading to some disruption of the ongoing voter roll process by some eager voters, who complain of being denied from registering.

In one of the incidents, the registration on the Tokay Hill in Ganta was forced to close down at noon on Saturday, September 19, 2020 after some young voters alleged that the NEC workers were selecting people for registration outside of the queue, which subsequently led to the involvement of police and closure of the polling station for the day.

Isaac Flomo, a resident of Toweh Yard Community in Ganta, alleged that the poll workers were taking bribes from those who were involved in trucking of people to the center and paying less attention to those who were waiting on line.

The aggrieved voter, who went to the center for transfer registration, explained that after he was through with his process of registering, he was waiting for his friend to go through, but the NEC officer continued taking people who were not on the queue and registering them.

"Even though my registration was done, but the NEC workers continued to dodge those in the line and registering those who were not in the line, especially those who were trucked to the center," he said.

"We continue seeing the registrar leaving his desk and coming outside, interacting with those who transport groups of people to the center and, after a while, he would come and take the new comers in, abandoning those waiting in line," Mr Isaac Flomo, a North Star worker alleged.

But the registrar, Josephus Newon, denied ever taking bribe from anyone as was alleged. Rather, he said, he only gave preference to pregnant women, baby mothers and the elderly. He explained that after fixing his Isaac Flomo's transfer card, Isaac went and collected some unknown boys from the community and brought them to the center for registration.

Newon said as they were processing people's cards, Isaac kept pressurizing the team to stop what they were doing and pay attention to the boys he brought.

"The group of boys he brought broke through the entry and disrupted the process," Newon said, adding that he and his team were forced to leave the registration center. "While we were leaving," he continued, "we lost of our materials in the process."

But, Isaac Flomo earlier stated that after seeing the process to be unfair, he went to call for police intervention and it is the police who asked them to close down, not because they disrupted the process.

Josephus Newon, the registrar, also explained that there is no security at any of centers and it is because of that, those disgruntled persons took advantage to disrupt the process.

However, the Upper Nimba Magistrate of NEC, Mr. Milton Paye, has confirmed the incident and said his office "will ensure that those who disrupt the process face the full weight of the law."

"We have already reported the incident to our central office and our legal team will be coming to pursue the case in court," he said.

Mr. Paye also buttressed the registrar Newon claims of lack of security at the center, something he said there was due to lack of budgetary allotment to compensate the security.

"The lack of security is one of the key problems we have been facing, but we are managing it until the process is over," he said.

Mr. Paye also complained that most of those coming for update do not have voter cards and it was hampering the process, because the number of people who lost their cards and the new voters may exceed the projection made by NEC.

However, people are pouring in from all corners of the country to get their cards updated, making most of the centers overcrowded, especially the first-time voters.

The entire VRU process is expected to be closed on the September 27, 2020, but many believe that it is unlikely that everyone will be covered.

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