Reports from Grand Gedeh say that officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP) have apprehended two Ivoirian nationals for trying to pass themselves off as Liberians; all in an effort to form part of the ongoing Voter Roll Update exercise being carried out in the country by the National Election Commission (NEC).
According to the NEC officials, VRU personnel of the NEC detected and turned over to Police in Grand Gedeh County 16 Ivorian refugees attempting to register in the ongoing Voter Roll Update Exercise being conducted.
The director of communications at the NEC, Joey Kennedy, said that the refugees were detected during the screening process at the Towah Elementary School in Cavalla Administrative District, Grand Gedeh County on Monday, February 3.
During preliminary police investigations, the refugees alleged that the General Town Chief of the area, Daniel Neh, held two separate meetings with them and persuaded them to register in order to vote for an unnamed candidate desirous of contesting in the impending October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election.
When arrested and investigated by the police, the general town chief admitted to persuading the refugees to register and revealed to the police that two other town chiefs in the area were his collaborators in persuading the refugees to register.
The police have charged and forwarded the refugees to the Zwedru Magisterial Court for impersonation and fraudulent registration.
Prior to the start of the VRU exercise, the Elections Magistrate of Grand Gedeh County, accompanied by UNHCR and LRRRC Staff, visited refugee camps in the county, dissuading all refugees against registering during the VRU exercise because it was for Liberians, not foreigners.
Meanwhile, the NEC is warning against fraudulent activities in the ongoing VRU exercise.
The commission says it is committed to acquiring a clean voter roll for Liberia and it has put into place several mechanisms to detect fraudsters caught attempting to swindle the ongoing VRU exercise would be prosecuted in line with the laws of Liberia.
In October 2013, President Ellen Johnson sirleaf and Ivoirian President Alassane Ouattara met with chiefs of Mano River Union cross-border towns with the aim of consolidating trans-border peace, security, and stability between the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. Hosted by the Government of Liberia, it was the first Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders Meeting, held in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh.
It is, as such, unclear why chiefs in the border towns would, in flagrant desregard for the goals set in that meeting, conspire with Ivorian refugees to illegally vote in Liberian elections.