Says her testimony was based on speculations, media reports
The jam-packed James Fromoyan Hall at the National Elections Commission (NEC) was a hilarious scene yesterday when Cllr. Frances Johnson Allison took the witness stand in the ongoing alleged electoral irregularities and frauds case and testified on the basis of speculations and media reports.
Cllr. Allison, who was the first post war chairperson of the NEC and, prior to that, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, told the hearing officer that she had no direct contact with any irregularity or fraud, but became concerned over time with the many media reports on alleged irregularities and frauds from the fields after the October 10 polls.
“My knowledge on the ongoing investigations has been gathered from media reports, hearings the NEC authorities conducted and other information provided by several other citizens,” she testified.
This response, given to UP lead lawyer Cllr. Varney Sherman, threw the hall into conflicting views, with several spectators condemning her for taking the centerstage of the hearing process which came to a standstill for several minutes.
She said after hearing of many complaints from people and leaders of political parties, she decided to engage the media so as to discuss the way forward in case there was any imminent constitutional crisis.
“I have heard people say that I went on air at a radio station and called for an interim government, but let me say it here again that I did not say so. The listeners probably did not comprehend my statement, and if required, the Truth Breakfast Show could play the recording when I appeared, at which I strongly called for the respect of our constitution,” she said.
She said that the NEC, under Chairman Jerome George Korkorya has committed a criminal offense should it be established that the Final Registration Roll (FRR) was altered so as to accommodate strange features.
“It is so strange to me for hearing and seeing this Commission creates an extra list called addendum only because it has defaulted in the provision of a credible FRR, which contains the names and other particulars of voters. It was so funny to me on October 10,” Cllr. Allison said.
Comparing 2005 elections, over which she presided, to the disputed 2017 elections, she boasted that her administration had no critical challenges as the current Commission has.
“Our poll workers in 2005 voted at places where they registered, and this prevented any need for addenda,” she said. This statement, which also released a dark cloud on her testimony, briefly halted the hearing as majority members of the audience, most especially those who voted in 2005, disagreed with her. Cllr. Allison was the chairperson of the NEC that oversaw the 2005 elections.
She said the NEC was a co-conductor of the 2005 elections due to the fact that the United Nations through the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), European Union (EU), others played major roles in the electoral process.
Testifying earlier, the co-chairman of the National Movement to Support Boakai (NAMBO), Jeff Bleebo, said the NEC’s FRR given to political parties in September was different from the FRR they submitted in evidence on Tuesday October 14.
Bleebo, an electronics engineer, informed the hearing office that the two flash drives received from the NEC has two different data.
“As an expert data analyst, I was given two pen drives received from the NEC by the Unity Party to compare and contrast so as to validate the NEC’s claims of conducting free, fair and transparent elections on October 10. My discoveries here are that one pen drive contained over 2,000 names that were not found on the first pen drive given to political parties earlier in September. And it was discovered that many people used the same voter identification numbers to vote,” he said.
Mr. Bleebo, who presented a 62 page document depicting discrepancies on the FRR, said several names confirmed by his investigation that one person voted several times.
“An instance in this regard is that John E. Minor, John Mulbah, Anthony F. Dolo and Esther Reeves, had 721219887 as their voters ID. All of them, as per our investigation, used this one ID number and participated in our electoral process,” he noted.
Meanwhile, as the other witnesses, including former Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, and former NEC Chairman, James Fromayan were undergoing preparations to testify, a writ on bill of information filed yesterday morning arrived from the Supreme Court, thereby bringing the hearing to a stop.
Arguing on the bill, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh said UP and its supporting partners filed in the bill of information earlier yesterday so as to compel the NEC to produce all pieces of evidence that was requested for but the hearing office overruled it.
“We will not sit here and allow anyone to entrap us into doing the wrong by proceeding with these hearings in the absence of the NEC making available our requests,” Cllr. Sannoh said.
For his part, NEC lead lawyer, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean said there was no need to honor the order from the Supreme Court, which has mandated the NEC to expeditiously investigate all matters arising for the October 10 polls. He, however, conceded later and allowed the hearing to be adjourned till today at 11 a.m.
The parties are expected to appear before the Supreme Court at 3 p.m. today to argue and counter argue reasons for the bill of information to be adhered to or not.