-Cllr. F. Musa Dean asserts, as UP chairman Paye admits voting, though his name was not on Final Register Roll
As the ongoing Unity Party’s intervention hearing case has begun producing witnesses and pieces of evidence, the party’s national chairman, Wilmot Paye, admitted that he voted on October 10 even though he knew that the National Elections Commission was wrong by making an addendum (additional lists) as part of the electoral process.
Paye, who took the witness stand over the weekend to testify against the NEC, said his name was not found on the Final Register Roll (FRR) at his voting center in Nimba Electoral District #4, but was persuaded by the NEC staff to accept the placement of his name on the addendum list so he could vote.
“My name was not found on the FRR after a long period of search, but I was asked by the Presiding Officer that my name must be written on the addendum list they had there so I could vote, even though I knew that was a very bad practice introduced in our electoral system,” he said.
He said October 10 polls were marred by irregularities and frauds only because the FRR was not credible. “An election cannot be credible in the absence of a credible final voter roll. What the NEC gave us as a party and part of the electoral process was incorrect and did not reflect the actual work done by NEC at the time of the voter registration period,” he noted.
The UP chairman said his party took note of the flaws in the FRR immediately upon receiving it and called on the Commission to do all it could to correct them.
“They promised us that the mistakes discovered in the FRR were going to be corrected before elections day but unfortunately our expectation was not met. People voted without their names found on the final voter roll and many polling places were opened later than the constitutional time of 8 a.m.,” he said.
Paye noted that his party has in its possession records of some polling places having more number of voters than the required number or the actual number of registered voters at those centers. Although he was not specific in providing evidence on said polling centers, the hearing officer noted his claim.
When asked by the NEC chief hearing officer, Cllr. Muana S. Ville, as to whether his party agents signed all tally sheets and records of counts after the conduct of the disputed elections, Paye answered affirmative but clarified that the NEC later produced different records rather than what his party agents affixed their signatures to.
Arguing for the NEC, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean said UP is not being fair to the public. “This is very unfortunate. Isn’t it this same UP among all qualified political parties that received the FRR from NEC 30 days prior to the conduct of the October 10 elections? Is it not this same UP that discovered the wrong, acknowledged it and yet participated in doing the same wrong? Was it not announced by this Commission that owing to the fact that the voter registration process was faced with challenges there was a need to accommodate all registered voters who have valid voting cards? Did UP object to that by saying let there be no elections until all names were included in the NEC database system? Mr. Hearing officer, the best thing UP could have done was to abstain from the process as CDC abstained from the 2011 presidential runoff on allegations that there were frauds,” Dean rested.
Dean said UP is crying foul, far beyond reality and in particular more than the principal complainant, the Liberty Party (LP).
“The Supreme Court gave us five days to adjudicate the LP’s case and if the party is not satisfied, may take an appeal to the Supreme Court but here is where we are. Over a week has passed and we are still being challenged by UP who refused to obey the law of intervention or complaint at the NEC, should one feel aggrieved. They bypassed the seven days constituted period of complaints and, by technicalities, succeeded in being accepted to intervene. Now, they are the very party over-delaying the presidential runoff which should have taken place on November 7 this year,” he pointed out.
He said after the October 10 polls UP did not file in any complaint but wrote the NEC requesting a discussion on the challenges uncovered at the polls. “They wrote the NEC on October 23, requesting time for a sitting to discuss but now the case is different. They appear now to be the main complainant and responsible for the intentional delay of the planned presidential runoff,” Dean noted.
For his part, Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman said UP is doing nothing wrong and that the party is only interested in seeing the wrongs corrected by the NEC. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes us. All we want is justice and justice we shall receive,” he said.
Cllr. Ville, who recently denied and dismissed UP’s motions for additional third-party representation at the hearing, adjoined the hearing to Monday, Nov. 13, with six other witnesses from UP expected to testify.