Following a reported fistfight at the voter registration (VR) center in electoral district #3 in Gbarpolu County, Western Liberia, the local authorities there have reportedly ordered the center closed.
Registration at the center was on Friday, February 17 disrupted, abrubtly halting the process when one Lusene Yehn, who went to register, was denied going through the exercise, “because residents claimed he was not one of their kinsmen in the district.”
Yehn said he had on that Friday gone to register and, “while the clerk was processing my data, a resident of the district ordered me to leave the queue on grounds that I was neither a resident nor a citizen of the district.”
The situation, according to eyewitnesses, morphed into an argument that led to a fistfight that reportedly disrupted the entire registration process.
Emmanuel Konneh, a prominent resident of the district, told the Daily Observer that while the clerk was processing Mr. Yehn’s data, one of the citizens, R. Lincoln Johnson, suspected Yehn of illegally claiming Liberian citizenship.
He said Mr. Johnson thereafter informed one of the NEC staff assigned to the center, Ms. Elizabeth Togba, who later quoted a section of NEC’s election guidelines regarding the registration of non–residents and aliens as well as residents and citizens.
In the aftermath of the confusion, Mr. Johnson then called the attention of some citizens, one of who is identified as Ciafa Jallah, who cautioned Yehn to see reason and address himself to the complaint.
Eyewitnesses told this newspaper that it was at this juncture that Yehn became frustrated and reportedly slapped Jallah in the face.
Jallah reportedly replied to the slap with double blows, which led to bitter exchanges that caused people to run in all directions for safety. The situation remained violent for a while because there was no security officer to bring it under control.
NEC staffers reportedly fled the scene to avoid their equipment from being damaged by the angry crowd that emerged a little later.
Meanwhile, Yehn and some of his alleged accomplices reportedly boarded their vehicles and fled the center to another center in Beatoe Town, a nearby community. Reports from Beatoe Town confirmed the presence of the Yehn and few of his accomplices, who local residents also later chased out of that center.
Following the incident, the citizens have therefore called on NEC’s central administration to assign security personnel in the county at the registration centers.