– Says party’s claims are frivolous and has nothing to prove against the NEC
The lead lawyer of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Frank Musa Dean, has accused the ruling Unity Party (UP) of having sinister motives as they proceed with the ongoing alleged electoral irregularities and fraud case.
UP, which is the intervening party in the Liberty Party case, has taken center stage and demanding more pieces of evidence whenever the hearing resumes. The Supreme Court recently mandated the NEC to expeditiously adjudicate all cases arising from the October polls, and that in case any party is not satisfied with the ruling from the NEC hearing officer or the Board of Commissioners (BOC) an appeal may be taken to it (Supreme Court).
Cllr. Dean said UP, who has submitted the names of 16 persons to testify on their behalf, is still requesting for additional names, which he thinks could cause unnecessary delays.
“Liberty Party rested with their arguments after producing witnesses in two days, but UP, the intervener who bypassed the election law to complain or intervene, is now holding the country hostage. They have evil motives and their objectives, if granted, will throw this country into chaos,” he claimed.
He noted that UP’s action is “mischievous, unfair and ridiculous, more so by their continuous subpoena of addenda and other reports not in dispute at the hearings.”
Dean’s reaction followed Cllr. Varney Sherman’s argument that the ongoing hearings are only a formality as provided for by law because they will pray the Supreme Court to investigate all matters before the NEC’s hearing office.
Dean said UP, LP and others accusing the NEC of wrongdoing do not constitute the overall population of the country.
“They alone do not constitute the population of our country for which they have to keep us tied down. We need to move forward and I believe that the way forward is for you, Mr. Hearing Officer, to take control of this process. They should not continue to make a request for evidence they cannot produce against the Commission, but yet demand each day for them. If they wish to, let them go to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Cllr. Sherman and team have vowed that they will not rest until the NEC produces all records showing the sought after pieces of evidence.
The NEC’s subpoenaed witness, Lamin Lighe, testified yesterday that the NEC has committed no fraud as claimed by the ruling Unity Party and others contesting the October 10 polls.
Taking the witness stand to validate or invalidate the accusations of irregularities and fraud levied against the Commission, Lighe said the NEC procured extra sample ballot papers for civic voter education purposes and another for official purpose of voting for representative and presidential candidates contesting the elections.
As executive director of the electoral body, he noted that the serial numbers assigned to the official ballot papers were placed at the upper left corner of each, which was not to the knowledge of the voting population.
“For the sanctity of our electoral system and considering security implications, we instructed our staff at all polling centers to note down numbers of people voting, ballots given out to voters and all relevant details so as to trace the accuracy of our reports,” he said.
About the alleged discovered ballots in Kwenabu, Grand Gedeh Electoral District #2, he pointed out that they are fake ballots and are in no way synonymous to the official ballots used on October 10 across the country.
“The back sides of the official ballots for presidential candidates have red stripes while the ballots for the representatives have green stripes and all ballots used and unused during the elections can be accounted for by this Commission,” he said.
Dennis Saah Buopoe, another UP witness, said his name was not found on the Final Register Roll (FRR) when he went to Rock International School in Margibi Electoral District #1. He said he observed that there was no preference given to voters with special needs.
“After standing in the queue for over three hours and succeeded going in, my name was not found on the FRR,” Buopoe said, noting however that his name was added in the addendum.
Other witnesses, including Sen. Geraldine Doe-Sheriff and former NEC chairman James Fromoyan are yet to testify on behalf of the complainant and core complainants.
The hearing officer, Cllr. Muana S. Ville, has meanwhile ordered that should UP fail to produce its remaining witnesses and pieces of evidence it claims to have, said witnesses will be dispensed with and no other arguments or subpoena will be entertained.
“After tomorrow (Nov. 15) the hearing office will be weighing the merits and demerits and rule according to its investigations. No further delays, and whoever thinks they have evidence let them come with it and allow us to save time,” he concluded as he reluctantly granted Sherman’s request to proceed with the hearing today.