The senatorial victory of former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai has been challenged by the Concern Citizens of Lofa County, which complained to the National Elections Commission (NEC), calling for recount of ballots in faulty areas in the county while at the same time rejecting the inclusion of unstamped records of count, amongst other discrepancies; Bill Jarkloh reports.
The NEC declared the CPP’s Brownie Samukai winner in the Senate seat for Lofa, with 20,431 accounting for 31.8% of valid votes cast at the head of other contestants.
Other contenders for the Lofa Seat at the Senate include Independent Candidate Tamba Dabah Aghailas, with 1,272 accounting for 1.98%; Abrahim M. Dukuly, (Reformation Alliance) with 940 equivalent to 1.46%; Mariamu Beyan Fofana, of (ALCOP) with 9,629 amounting to 14.99%; independent Candidate Joseph Kpator Jallah 13,968 equal to 21.74%; independent Candidate Dedeh Nohr Jones, 1,810 which expresses 2.82%; independent Candidate, Mohamed O. Kamara 545 amounting to 0.85%; Gordon Nyuma Moiwula, (LRP) 622 votes or 0.97%; and Johnny K. M. Ndebe, (LINU), 1,196 or 1.86%.
But the Concern group of voters did not satisfy with the NEC results, and therefore filed a complaint calling on NEC to investigate.
Three separate letters of complaints to NEC in the possession of this paper quote members of the Concerned voters that the election result making Mr. Samukai the winner was marred by fraud, interference by some influential members of the community amongst other discrepancies that were overlooked by the local officials of NEC, despite complaints filed to the election governing body by the group in the county.
One of the complaints dated December 18, 2020 by some members of the Concerned Citizens resident in Voinjama District expressed dissatisfaction over the manner in which the Hearing Officer in Upper Lofa handled our compliant.
“Dear Madam Chairperson and members of the Board of Commissioners, We have the Honor most respectfully to register our dissatisfaction over the way and manner the Hearing Officer in Upper Lofa handled our compliant as follows”
The complaint signed by James K. Mallay and Ahmed Kromah, who claimed to be registered voters, indicate that a compliant letter with all the supporting documents was file before the Hearing Officer, Honorable Prince Client Sondah, on the 12th of December, 2020, before the tallying was conducted on the 13th of December; but he refuse to sign same in acknowledgement of receipt.
The complainants also said that the Hearing Officer on December 17, 2020 excluded complainant Ahmed Kromah on ground that he was an ordinary voter, and that the other complainant, James Mallay, was a Zonal Head. Complainant Ahmeh Kromah was therefore denied audience by Honorable Sondah.
According to the Complaint, after inviting complainant James Mallay into his chambers, Sondah verbally informed him (Mallay) that because he, as Zonal Head, did sign the Tally Sheet, therefore complainant Mallay does not have a case before him, a decision by the Hearing Officer which he did not make formal by reduce it into writing.
In view of the foregoing, the complainants prayed the Honorable Board of Commissioners through the Hearing Officer, Prince Client Sondah, to conduct a hearing into their complaint or order the complaint transferred to Central office of NEC in Monrovia for a hearing de novo so that recount of those faulty areas in Districts 3, 4 and 5 will be conducted, and to further grant unto complainants any and all other reliefs the Honorable Board of Commissioners may deemed just, fair, equitable, transparent and in keeping with the Electoral Laws of the Land.
In yet another complaint by Ahamed M. Kromak and Zonal head James K. Mallay of the Telbomai Community and dated December 12, 2020, complainants said their representatives objected to the inclusion of unstamped Records of the Count base on the presentation of the Records of Count by NEC local official.
In spite of the rejection of unstamped Records of Count, complainants indicated that the National Elections Commission’s local official resisted the rejection of the records of count and included the unstamped documents and had them tallied.
Exhibiting Attachments to validate their claim, complainants noted, “we have copies of the twenty –four (24) unstamped records of the counts, for your ease of reference.”
They said in the minds of their campaign team, “the results on the twenty- four (24) Record of Count do not represent valid or legitimate votes,” and therefore request that these records to be thoroughly investigated and excluded from the total tally of votes in Electoral Districts 3, 4 and 5.
The account for the unstamped Records of Count by saying that 19 sheets came from District #4, and five sheets from District #5, which are equivalent to the total of valid and invalid votes that amount to 3,394 votes.
According to the complainants, these unstamped documents are not considered valid or legitimate because they are not stamped, pointing out that the Concern Citizens members also on December 11, 2020 spotted Lofa County District #1 Representative Francis Nyumaline and a member of Collaborating Political Parties at the NEC Headquarters in serious conversation with Electoral Magistrate Robert N. Sallay.
The presence of the lawmaker and a CPP partisan at that time and location raised eyebrows and serious doubt as to the purpose and intent of their visit, noting that for the sake of evidence and prove, they have photograph of the District #1 Representative Nyumaline.
Additionally, the complainants said, they have their witness on the standby to testify as to these allegations, if required. But for their safety, we cannot include their names now in their complaint.
“In view of the foregoing, we pray that these matters be thoroughly investigated and a recount be order in these Districts mentioned above and other actions be taken in keeping with the electoral laws of this land to serve as a deterrent to would violations in the future,” the complainants said
In a third complaint dated December 18, from in Lofa County District #5, one Kesselly Gayflore and Peter Flomo complained to NEC indicating that some discrepancies were observe during the December 8, 2020 Election in Districts #4 and #5, where the election results posted did not tally.
“It was posted that the elections participants’ total vote were 133, but when individual votes were tallied; it gives less than 133 which was posted for the Public,” the complaint said.
Besides, the Concern Citizens members said the appearance of District #1 Representative, Francis Nyumaline in public view at the tally center in Voinjama during the counting process, impacted the vote count, at a time, noting that the CPP candidate Mr. Brownie Samukai was trailing behind two candidates in the race but suddenly announced leading at the instance of the visit.
The complainant believed that the presence of Francis Nyumaline helped to increase the CPP candidate’s votes, since he was behind earlier in the race.
Hon. Nyumaline also exchange telephone number with the magistrate of lower Lofa County, which the Concern group again said influenced the results; where the CPP candidate number change significantly, the complainants added.
Thirdly, the complainants said it was observed that there were 26 unstamped voting forms, including two forms in District #3, 19 forms in District #4 and five forms in District #5 respectively, totaling 3,700 valid and invalid votes.
“Because of this variance and many other variances that cannot be listed in this complain, we would appreciate where you to order a recount of district #4 and #5, since both tallies center votes were influenced by the presence of the honorable, the complainants Kezelee Gayflor, Patrick G. Sumo, Ahmeh M. Kromah and Peter Flomo concluded.