Liberia: Bong District #4 Citizens Demand NEC Magistrate’s Resignation Over Unfair Elections

— As citizens collect thousands of signatures

Over claims of irregularities and unfair elections in Bong County District #4, the National Election Commission of Liberia Upper Bong Senior Magistrate, Daniel Newland, walks on slippery ground, as a group of citizens has collected thousands of citizens’ signatures to petition NEC for his resignation.

The demand of by the citizens, known as the “People Movement for Unity in Developing a New Liberia of the People, by the People and for the People” (People Movement), comes as a result of the recent discovery of multiple levels of fraudulent activities and discrepancies found under the supervision of Newland during the recount process.

The recount process follows a complaint filed by independent candidate Quanuquanei A. Karmue of irregularities and the highest court ordered the Commission to conduct a recount of votes in five polling places at Yowee Public School polling places 1, 2, and 3, as well as Mbelequah polling places 1 and 2.

Following the recount process on December 14, 2023, results of votes from the five polling places in the two towns showed that candidate Jonah Nulee Tokpah of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), who came second previously, declined drastically while CDC candidate Susannah Seton M. L votes increased extensively, followed by incumbent Robert Flomo Womgba of the Unity Party, maintaining almost his same votes with just a slight increase by one vote.

A consolidated tally report of the recount of the five polling places gave CDC candidate Susannah M. Seton 940 votes, representing 56.9%, while incumbent Robert Flomo Womgba obtained 177 votes constituting 10.7%, followed by CPP candidate Jonah Nulee Tokpah with 123 votes amounting to 7.4%. 

But speaking at a press conference on December 19, 2023, in the District, the People Movement said they want Magistrate Daniel Newland to resign his position as Magistrate to allow a sincere investigation into the grievous fraudulent actions carried out at the National Elections Commission, Upper Bong County Tally Center within 4 days.

The Bong County Electoral District #4 disenchanted citizens are pleading for either a complete recount of all Representative ballot papers from all 74 polling places in the 24 voting precincts of electoral District #4, which were processed during the October 10, 2023, general elections, or a revote of the election in District #4 to restore trust within the election process.

The citizens are formally requesting that, with evidence that the recent recount conducted at the Five (5) polling centers in the District has confirmed fraudulent actions and ballot tampering in violation of election laws, it is necessary that remedy is completely served and confidence and trust are restored in the NEC and for the constitutional rights of the citizens to stand. 

For his part, independent representative candidate Quanuquanei A. Karmue,  in whose favor the Supreme Court of Liberia ruled, said he stands with the citizens of Bong County District #4 to call for the immediate resignation of the Upper Bong County Magistrate, Daniel Newland.

He said after he (Karmue) filed a complaint of discrepancies, Magistrate Newland said the plaintiff did not have a case and he (Newland) took the airways to fabricate the evidence. However, the same evidence that was presented to the NEC office here in the County was presented to the Supreme Court, who ruled overwhelmingly in favor of Karmue and ordered a recount in the district. 

According to Karmue, the recount exposed additional discrepancies within Newland’s Office, proving that the Election Magistrate’s actions favored specific candidates over others. 

“The observers discovered that one of the Ballot boxes’ serial numbers had been changed, and there appeared to be a countless number of ballots stuffed under different candidates in that particular box,” he added.

The Bong County District #4 representative candidate continued: “This was the old Liberia where corruption was the order of the day. We’re in a new era, a New Liberia with zero tolerance for corruption in District #4.

“The people of Liberia deserve better, the District #4 citizens deserve better representation,” Kermue said.

“We will not let the old Liberia, the bureaucracy that has not worked for the people, threaten the people so that the people cannot get clear facts and understanding about the electoral process. I will not let that happen in this district again.

“Therefore, today, I stand with the People’s Movement, with thousands of citizens to back this petition, calling for the immediate resignation of Mr. Daniel Newland.

“Thousands of people throughout the district are offended by this and can no longer trust the election process under Mr. Newland,” Karmue said.

My allegiance is to the people, and today, I stand with the people in this petition as hundreds more are coming in from all over the district. 

When contacted Magistrate Daniel Newland regarding the allegations, he described the allegations as false and misleading.

He said it is the citizens’ right to test the legal process of Liberia, adding it is good for them to follow the law of Liberia.

The District’s highest seat was contested by 13 candidates in the just-ended 2023 elections with a total vote cast of 25,708, while total valid votes reached 24,002 (100.00%), and total invalid votes of 1,706.

In the NEC’s previous pronouncement of results from the October 10 legislative elections in the district, Representative Robert Flomo Womgba of the Unity Party, according to the NEC, got 4,954 votes (20.64%), while Jonah N. Togbah of the CPP got 4,873 votes (20.3%), and Independent candidate Quanuquanei Afred Karmue obtained 4,097 votes (17.07%).

According to the NEC, the number of registered voters across the district is 30,029, with 24 precincts.

The NEC also revealed that after the October 10 elections, the turnout of reported polling places was 25,708 (85.61%).