Results of the just-ended Lofa County election have, not surprisingly, been called into question given the conflicting figures coming from the National Elections Commission (NEC).
According to a July 1 front-page story carried in the Daily Observer, headlined, “Lofa Senatorial By-elections Results: NEC Getting Math Wrong?” reporters Alvin Worzi and David Menjor observed that the math in the data tally, based on the figures given by NEC, just does not add up.
According to reporters Menjor and Worzi, they observed inconsistencies and contradictions in the preliminary data posted on the NEC website, citing as an example the Forbayman Public School in Electoral District #1, where independent candidate Jallah obtained a total of 550 votes although his actual vote totaled 275 votes.
In another instance, at the Porluma Town Hall in District #1 with five(5) polling places, Jallah, according to preliminary results posted on the NEC website, Jallah’s actual vote count totaled 872 votes. However, NEC posted a total of 1,744 votes, twice Jallah’s actual vote count.
There are other instances as well, all of which we cannot detail here, owing to space constraints. But such glaring inconsistencies/contradictions in the results released by NEC strongly suggest that the results were stolen-not credible by any standards, even including NEC’s.
Initially, the NEC Chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, at a press conference on Friday, July 1, utterly dismissed the Observer’s report — apparently without having first pursued our observations. This most recent development has once again cast dark clouds of suspicion over the electoral body, especially its Board of Commissioners. Its chairperson is currently ridden with charges of fraud which she has since been desperately trying to shake off.
Of particular mention in this regard is Commissioner Floyd Sayor, allegedly a card-carrying member of the CDC, who was found guilty of fraud including vote count tampering in the Montserrado County District 15 elections.
He formerly served in the NEC data center as manager and was subsequently appointed as Commissioner. At the time of his appointment as Commissioner, his fraudulent conduct was already established on the record. As a matter of fact, the Daily Observer has on several occasions previously flagged the issue that Sayor, having been found guilty of fraud, was not a good fit for the position of Commissioner — simply owing to the fact of his previous conviction of electoral fraud.
Now the chickens have come home to roost with the release of election results that from all indications appear to have been stolen. Already, according to information received by this newspaper, the NEC has taken down the initial preliminary results posted on its website. Insider sources say NEC took the action allegedly because unknown individuals attempted to hack its website. However, analysts point out that NEC took down the information posted on its website because the data posted clearly revealed that the results had been fixed.
And NEC Commissioner Sayor, oversight of the NEC Data Center is alleged to be the mastermind behind the rigging of the results. Observers note that the data center is of crucial significance because it is their corrupt officials can tweak the results to reflect their own desired outcomes.
At this stage, it remains unclear whether the Unity Party is going to protest the results. This is in view of public speculations that its Chairman is urging party officials to accept the results without protest. In case it does, the protest will likely be heard by the NEC Hearing Officer and that individual is expected to be Jr. Hearing Officer, attorney at-law Fomba Swaray.
He was the same individual who ruled in favor of Musa Bility and Alexander Cummings’ petition to bar the UP candidate from participating in the just-ended elections on the basis of an unconstitutional Exit Clause 8.5.2 of the purported original CPP Framework document.
Whatever the case, whether or not the Unity Party concedes defeat and refrains from challenging the election results, the controversy will certainly not go away in view of rising public concern about the future conduct of elections, especially the October 2023 presidential and general elections under the watch of a very corrupt electoral body.
It must be underscored that the just-ended elections in Lofa are less about the candidates themselves but more about the future of democracy in Liberia. This is in view of reports of bribery of voters under various schemes and guises which have been well noted.
In a recent photo making the rounds on social media, a group of women — four in number — can be seen posing for the camera, holding wads of freshly printed L$00 and L$500 banknotes put at L$2 million which, according to CDC officials, were loans to ordinary folks including market women.
This has given rise to intense public speculation that such huge amounts of cash spent by CDC officials to woo voters come from the public treasury but without account to no one but themselves. Yes, indeed the Lofa elections say a lot about the country’s electoral process which appears not only corrupted beyond measure but may likely, as a result of corrupt NEC leadership, go along with attempts/ploys to rig the 2023 elections.
The Lofa elections have also demonstrated the ready willingness of our current crop of politicians to pander to base ethnic sentiments to promote the accomplishment of narrow and selfish ends. We know from history that corruption is not a respecter of ethnic identities nor is it an exclusive proclivity of only certain tribes or ethnic groups. Now the Liberian people know from experience that a corrupt so-called countryman is no different from a corrupt so-called “civilized man”, although their circumstances of birth and upbringing may completely different.
The issue is character, which appears to be in short supply amongst our officials and aspiring politicians. The just-ended elections should provide ample guidance on what to expect in 2023.
In any case, Daily Observer reporters Alvin Worzi and David Menjor — through their article — have, according to most people spoken to, exposed the lies and fallacious accounts of what was a generally peaceful by-election but whose results were stolen.
It is a tragic but comical farce which Liberians should never accept.