The Special Representative of the President of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission to Liberia, Ambassador Babatunde Olanrewaju Ajisomo, has disclosed that modalities are being worked out to ensure that the regional body is involved in the cleanup of the controversial Final Registration Roll (FRR), ahead of the expected runoff election. The Supreme Court did not fix a date for the runoff, but legal experts say that decision lies squarely within the purview of the NEC.
It can be recalled that the integrity of the FRR and its violability was called into question by the parties in their complaint to the Supreme Court. Although the Supreme Court did not concur with the political parties’ prayer to annul the entire results based on the alleged widespread fraud and irregularities, the Court nevertheless opined that the Final Registration Roll in its present form was problematic and therefore ordered NEC to cleanup the FRR as a necessary prerequisite to the holding of the runoff election.
Meanwhile, ECOWAS Ambassador Ajisomo said the regional body (ECOWAS) is poised to help in this process, adding that the regional body, the NEC, and other stakeholders are collaborating to ensure the speedy return of its team of experts to Liberia to assist the NEC with the cleanup of the FRR.
He spoke recently at an interactive forum with media practitioners in Monrovia where findings and recommendations of the leaked report were officially disclosed.
The outspoken diplomat said cleaning up the FRR needs to be accomplished within the confines of the Supreme Court ruling. He, however, dispelled rumors that the technical team met with the Supreme Court while here. “I can tell you for a fact that they didn’t meet with the Supreme Court. The team’s mandate was to engage with the NEC officials and not necessarily other national stakeholders,” he added.
Ambassador Ajisomo stressed that ECOWAS is of the opinion that there is a need for a return of the technical team in order to ensure transparency, openness, and fairness from the public’s perspective. “In as much as the NEC has identified the problems, they also have professed solutions to the problems. So we are working hard to ensure that the technical team comes back to finish the task they have started,” he said.
The four-man ECOWAS team of election and IT experts, headed by Kwadwa Afari-Gyan, former Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, were in the country recently to assess conditions that may have contributed to the disputed October 10 election results and make recommendations to address the problem.
The team was headed by Chidi Nwafor, an IT specialist, system integrator (SI) and electrical engineer with advanced certificate in data management. He was assisted by two IT technicians, including a data architect. The team was in the country at the behest of ECOWAS.
While in Monrovia the team met with NEC officials, including its Chairman Jerome G. Korkoya, Commissioners Samuel Joe and Boakai Dukuly, and Executive Director Lamin Lighe. It also met with the staff of the NEC data center, the warehouse, a team of election magistrates and the SMS consultant.