Justices of the Supreme Court will gather in a joint chamber on today, January 8, 2021 to hear arguments into the merit and demerit of a complaint of election irregularities and fraud filed by the Senatorial Candidate of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Alfred Koiwood, who is the current the Representative of District #1 in Gbarpolu County.
Rep. Koiwood complained against the National Election Commission’s ( NEC) handling of the December 8, 2020 special senatorial election in the county and asked the court to place a stay order on the January 7, re-run of election in the Nomodatonau Town, where it was alleged that the Paramount Chief of the town, McGill Wleh, with support from some residents, seized ballot boxes and halted the election from taking place due to what he called “Illegal attempts” by aliens to vote in that part of the country.
Surprisingly, while the matter is being scheduled for hearing by the Supreme Court today, the electoral body had already conducted the re-run in the area, apparently, contrary to several Supreme Court’s decision that NEC should hear and decide any compliant resulting from the electoral process before proceeding further with an election.
With this legal battle in sight, what appears as a dark cloud is now hanging on the Thursday election in the county.
The question remains unanswered as to whether or not the Supreme Court will nullify the results of the election.
Before the complaint, the NEC’s preliminary results from the county as of December 14 put independent candidate Botoe Kanneh in the lead with 4,722 votes ahead of her close rival, Rep. Koiwood, who by then had 4,273 votes from the 139 polling places of the 144 total number of polling places.
However, in his ‘Petition for the Writ of Prohibition’, Cllr. Arthur Johnson argued that his action to go to the Supreme Court was based on numerous complaints he filed on behalf of his client, Rep. Koiwood, pointing out the motion for change of venue for the hearing of his case before the NEC Assistant Magistrate in the county, Willie Sumo.
Another complaint that was allegedly ignored was the petition for summary proceeding filed before the board of commissioners of the NEC.
In that petition, Koiwood had informed the board of commissioners to prohibit and correct the “Illegal” conduct of Magistrate Sumo, which the board accordingly refused to address.
Further to the complaint Cllr. Johnson argued that they filed a motion for stay order before the board of commissioners against the conduct of the election in the county, but the board refused to conduct the hearing.
Unfortunately, Cllr. Johnson claimed that while his motions for change of venue, summary proceeding and stay order were pending before the electoral body, the NEC had ordered a re-run of the election on Thursday, January 7.
On the issue of Madam Kanneh, the independent candidate who is leading the vote in the county, Cllr. Johnson argued that she had initially filed a complaint before the NEC alleging election violence and fraud against the electoral body, which Cllr. Johnson is claiming had affected the conduct of the election in the county.
He added that, “Until the complaint is finally determined, the commission cannot proceed with the conduct of the election in the face of the allegations as well as assigning the hearing of the previous motions, stay order and summary proceeding.”