Fear of Fraud Looms

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The accused, Cynthia Ballah, being led into a police vehicle following the incident

NEC denies NDI observers, ECOWAS experts access to Data Center

As the final vote continues, fears loom about the outcome of the runoff election results given early reports of fraud, the summary dismissal of a key functionary in the NEC data center as well as the NEC’s denial, to its data center, of access to ECOWAS experts and observers of the National Democratic Institute.

Reliable sources say no valid reasons have been given by the NEC chairman except for unchallenged assertions that the ECOWAS Experts have no further relevance to the Commission’s ongoing work. Just why the the NEC Chairman maintains that the ECOWAS team of experts have no further relevance to the process remains a closely guarded secret known perhaps to only him or to a few.

It may be recalled that fraud was at the centerpiece of the protesting parties’ claims about irregularities in the October 10 elections whose results were legally challenged by the Liberty Party, All Liberian Party, Alternative National Congress and the Unity Party. The Supreme Court did however rule that fraud committed in the October 10 elections were not of sufficient scope and magnitude to warrant a rerun of the elections. It instead ordered a runoff based on the attainment of certain benchmarks principal amongst which was the clean up of the Voters Roll.

But the Unity Party in a subsequent Bill of Information filed before the Supreme Court charged that the NEC was acting in disobedience of the Court’s mandate to clean up the Voters Roll and prayed that the December 26 date for the runoff, arbitrarily selected by NEC Chairman Korkoya be put off until the Court’s mandate had been fully complied with. The Court however ruled against the request and ordered the NEC to proceed notwithstanding the stated concerns of the Unity Party.

The patience of the Liberian people, having been worn thin by the drawn-out litigation process in the Supreme Court, was again irked by reports of fraud emerging in the runoff period. These early reports of fraud provoked an almost instantaneous national outcry as a National Elections Commission (NEC) poll worker was arrested by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) Tuesday morning after reportedly being caught handing over two pre-marked ballot papers to a voter.

Pre-marked ballot papers for the 2017 runoff under investigation

The incident, reports of which immediately went viral on social media, took place at the Rev. Mother Sarah School System on Duport Road Zubah Town, Paynesville. The information was confirmed by NEC Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, at a press conference held in Monrovia. He indicated that the suspect is currently in police custody. The suspect was identified as Cynthia Ballah.

Other voters at the precinct indicated that the issue was first raised by one of the two party observers in the polling room where the incident took place. “I heard that a boy who was given two ballot papers by the poll worker was called for questioning by the police officer after someone raised the issue,” an eyewitness said.

The witness, who had not voted prior to the incident, indicated that it was the young man who told the officer that the ballots, marked already, were given to him by Ms. Ballah. “And this is how she was arrested, put in the LNP vehicle and taken to the Zone-5 Police Depot for further investigation.

Photos and video footage from the incident were abuzz on social media, especially the ballot papers showing NEC’s stamp on each.

In the images, the lady is seen hiding her face avoiding being “photographed or videotaped.”

Report of the incident began circulating on social media shortly after it occurred. The photos showed Ballah as she was escorted by police to a waiting vehicle. There were photos of the pre-marked ballots with a thumb print marked for the Coalition for Democratic Change headed by Senator George Weah.

Meanwhile, there was another report of a pre-marked Ballot at MVTC Polling Precinct in District #2, Montserrado County.

The Presiding Officer of that precinct’s polling place #3, Gerald Fin Boye, admitted that a staff of the NEC did hand over a pre-marked ballot paper to a voter during the early hours of voting.

The NEC later denied in a statement on its website that the paper got terminated as a result of an error and that the ballot paper was not pre-marked as was being speculated. NEC wrote on its official Facebook page that the ballot paper issuer, while trying to stamp the ballot, mistakenly touched the ink on the paper. The ballot paper, according to NEC was displayed to all present and marked spoiled and placed in the specified envelope.

The alarm over the pre-marked ballot paper was raised by one Musa Donzo, who was serving as the Unity Party supervisor at voting precinct 130223.  Donzo, according to reports, said a voter was seen with a ballot paper reportedly pre-marked in favor of Senator George Weah of the CDC.

Meanwhile, the Daily Observer has been reliably informed that the second in command at the NEC data center, Mr. Isaac Zahn has been summarily removed from his duties by NEC chairman Korkoya after being accused of sharing confidential information with the Coalition for Democratic change (CDC) which he (Zahn) has allegedly denied.

According to reliable sources, Zahn has shown no interest in “cooperating” with contrived schemes to fix the elections results and has not surprisingly been given marching orders by Korkoya.

Attempts by this newspaper to contact Mr. Isaac Zahn by phone proved futile and up to press time he had not responded to text messages seeking comment on the issue. However when contacted, NEC Executive Director Lamin Lighe instead deferred the matter to NEC Information officer Henry Flomo who has also not responded to text messages for comment.

The Daily Observer has also been reliably informed that Chairman Korkoya has denied the ECOWAS IT experts, assigned to assist in the cleanup of the Voters Roll, access to the NEC data center where, according to reports, illegal fixing of the results are planned to be carried out away from the prying eyes of Mr. Zahn and the ECOWAS experts including observers of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), whose request to be present in the NEC data center has allegedly been turned down by Mr. Korkoya.

The NDI official who spoke to the Daily Observer, when reached for comment, said she was not up to speed on the alleged request for NDI’s presence in the NEC data center but she promised to contact this newspaper as soon as she receives up to date information on the subject.

Sources say the matter has been brought to the attention of the ECOWAS Observer Mission as well as the office of the ECOWAS Ambassador accredited near this capital but it remains unclear at this point what action is being considered in respect of these reports.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Members of ECOWAS and NDI have been denied access by Korkoya and team at NEC?
    It’s unequivocally a shame. Korkoya’s reputation (if he’s had any) has been tarnished for generations.

    The NEC boss Mr. Korkoya, has a trademark of defiance. He is a ruffian. He is also a contrarian. Additionally, Korkoya is an autocrat. Korkoya does not give a hoot about the concerns of the Liberian people, neither does he care about the rule of law, although he is a lawyer.

    It shouldn’t be a surprise that Korkoya would deny representatives of ECOWAS and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) access to NEC’s data center of which he is a dubious chairman. Korkoya is who he is. The sad news is that because of his inability to conduct good governance at the NEC, he has made Liberia a laughing stock.

    The only reason why Korkoya will not allow foreign observers access to NEC’s data center is that he’s got something to hide. Whatever is being hidden, will be brought to light. Whenever the information he hides is made public, Korkoya will be punished. First of all, Korkoya set up a run-off date without the broad consensus of the Liberian people. The 26th of December shouldn’t have been the ideal date. Because Korkoya is who he is, he did it. That’s because he doesn’t give a hoot!
    The voters done their part. May God Almighty shower Liberia’s nectar leader with the wisdom of Solomon. Amen

  2. Last paragraph…
    Should be ” the voters have done their part”.

    Also the last paragraph…….
    Should be ” Liberia’s next leader”, not nectar.

    My phone made that stupid mistake, not me.

    Okay gentlemen and ladies? Peace!

  3. Unsurprisingly, Daily Observer is in denial. The One Party Government mentality seems so ingrained that most elites would love to see UP in power for 18 years or more. Like someone commented on Facebook, it boils down to protecting positions, privileges, and being in the loop.

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  5. Mr. Camai B,
    None of the so-called words I used need a spell check! None.
    The word “nectar” was wrongly typed. I immediately corrected it after the fact. By the way gentleman, if you didn’t have those words in your lexicon, you may add them on to the ones you already have.

    Let’s move on.

  6. Personally, I do not live in Liberia. However, during a political season, people of all backgrounds take sides for various reasons. It’s a natural right for people to align themselves with whomever or with whatever political persuasion they wish. It’s all good.

    Mr. Moses, you are right to say that some people, possibly Liberians, have a one-party mentality. When Tubman was president of Liberia, the True Whig party was the only party of the land. Tubman appointed Senators and Representatives. No elections were held. That was wrong!

    But, the truth is that not all people believe in a one-party leadership. The fact that the Unity Party ruled Liberia for 12 odd years is not a good reason to boot them out of office. To some, it’s good enough reason to send Johnson-Sirleaf and Boakai to wherever they came from. I understand, it’s their right to feel like that. But, I disagree.

    I do believe though that the message of a standard bearer is very important. If a standard bear’s message does not resonate well with the masses, things fall apart quickly. In our most recent situation, (assuming that Weah will win), there seemed to be some kind of “bad blood” between Boakai and Johnson-Sirleaf. Given that scenario, Boakai’s message did not penetrate the subconscious minds of the Liberian electorate. Additionally, times change. When times change, people change. It seems that Johnson-Sirleaf was reluctant to change with the speeding train. Boakai may have been left in the mud because of Ellen.

    On the other hand, Weah may win. But, we don’t know what’s in store for us. If Weah wins and does not do this or that, some Liberians will say that Boakai would have been better. I can assure any Liberian that such a talk will fly around.

    The Americans voted Trump in last year. Yet, Obama (by the way, I met Obama, chatted with him before he became president. Not only did I meet him, we lived in the same neighborhood, Hyde Park, Chicago) did a very good job. But why was Hillary Clinton rejected? Is it because the Americans didn’t want 4 more years of a Democrat in the cockpit? Alright, see what we’ve got? Trump’s rating is low. Trump’s Secretaries of State and Justice are beleaguered. Rumor has it that his Secretary of State, Mr. Tillerson called a moron. The Russsian probe destabilizes Trump. The Republican party is on ashaky ground.

    In my humble opinion, Hillary Clinton would have been a better choice.
    I hope that my brothers and sisters in Liberia will not suffer a similar fate.

  7. 1. Should be “standard bearer” and not “standard bear”. See above.
    2. Should be “Tillerson called him a …….
    3. Should be “a shaky ground”.

  8. When voters turnout was reportedly low as noted by everybody, then where did the 1.7 million number of voters who participated in this election come from? And though the vp did the honorable thing by conceding defeat, something which we know from records the CDC would have never done under this sun, however, it is still incumbent upon the NEC to prove to us that this election was conducted freely and fairly as opposed to what some think, believed and anticipated. One quick way to dispel this notion for example, would be for the NEC to account for all the ballots printed and brought in the country for this election as it did two months or so ago, and tell us and by evidence how many ballots were used and the remaining ballots. Remember people were apprehensive when we learned that the NEC had imported almost twice the amount of ballots needed for this election and the rationale was that it was a safety measure intended to make up for any ruined ballots during the process? Many people felt the quantity of extra ballots was suspicious. That something sinister was afoot. So when we hear of election magistrates having pre-marked ballots in their possession and especially “a low turnout” election producing almost the number of registered voters, something is wrong with that picture. And we need to clarify these things for future elections, not necessarily for this one that is already accepted and thank God through the graciousness of the vp and Unity Party. We need to therefore know how many ballots were used and how many left over of the total ballots imported for this election for the record! That shouldn’t be an unusual request, or is it?

  9. Synder,
    You’re right, gentleman. By conceding to Weah for his loss, VP Boakai has shown professionalism. Boakai was used and misused several times by Johnson-Sirleaf. .Despite all of that, accepted defeat without a stint. Boakai could have refused to concede like Roy Moore of the red state of Alabama is doing. But because the VP believes that his self-interest is not superior to the interest of the nation, he kept his promise and bowed out like a good gentleman he is. Also, in a state of frenzy as they are, I am dubious that CDC’s supporters would have been easily contained had VP Boakai won.

    You’ve touched on another area of curiosity, voter turnout. Yes, it was reported by many Liberian newspapers that the turnout was low. But yet, nearly 2 million people showed up to vote. If it is true that 1.7 million eligible voters came out to vote, where did they come from? By the way, 1.7 million is more than half of the 2.3 million eligible voters that were expected to vote. Let’s do the math: 2.3 million minus 1.7 equals 600,000. It’s hard to believe that 600,000 eligible voters sat out the election. The question is where did 600,000 voters go? Did 600,000 people travel from county to county? Or did some Liberian voters travel out of the 99,000 squared-mile border? Ha, maybe some eligible voters went to Mecca, Pasadena, California or maybe they went to their farms to experience some kind of tranquility.
    I wish the Liberian people well.

  10. Professo,
    I don’t know if you meant to say professor or whether you are a professor. Whatever the case, I am glad you are in good standing with your wife and family.

    Keep up the good work. Don’t mess around like most women would do. Women will deny it, but boy oh boy, I write from experience.

    Now, in order that I may be fully correct, I’d say “most women” , and not all women, mess around more than what people know. Right?

    Finally, I did not incite violence by saying what I have just said. But, you wait and see. There’ll be smoke pretty soon.

  11. The only question that I have in this world is this:
    How did president-elect Weah get the name “Oppong”?
    I guess the the follow-up question is this: “Does Mr. Weah have a Ghanaian connection”?

    Hillary Snyder, G.F. Moses et.al…. could one of you knowledgeable men or women out there answer my question please?

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