Sierra Leone – Invalidating votes & 2012 electoral laws: A rebuttal to Kelfala Kallon

Our learned professor, Dr. Kelfala Kallon I have read your lengthy piece entitled as “The “World’s Best” or Just Small Time Crooks?” published on NEW PEOPLE NEWSPAPER in which you try to mock my current standing. Let me upfront assure you that your informants are busy feeding you a whole load of JUNK! I feel so sorry to see an otherwise credible person like yourself be reduced to repeating junk as facts. Anyway, it will not be long now for you to learn the truth. You go learn!

Sierra Leone’s outstanding and remarkable Chief Electoral Commissioner – Dr Christiana Thorpe

Now, I am writing to educate you a little bit on the powers given to Dr. Christiana Thorpe which you make much mention of, in your article. However, before I do so, let me cast your mind back to what Thorpe said back in September 2007 whilst she was announcing that she had invalidated votes for 477 polling stations in SLPP strongholds. She had said that, even if she had not deducted the nullified void votes, SLPP’s Solomon Berewa would not have won. She then said, in line with international best practise, since the voiding of the votes in those stations would not make any difference in who will win, there was no need to conduct a re-run of those elections. She had said that if the voiding of those votes, had changed the results so that it changed who won and who lost, then she would have been forced to re-run the elections in those areas.

This is what she had said on 17th September 2012:

There is one important element to highlight: international election standards say that the invalidation of votes does not require a repeat of the polling exercise if the act of invalidation does not affect the outcome of the poll. The National Electoral Commission can confirm that in the case of 8 September poll these invalidations have NOT affected the outcome of the election.

In other words, what she said back then was that even if she had not deducted the votes from those 477 polling stations, Ernest Bai Koroma would still have won albeit with a slimmer victory margin. So, whether or not those votes were nullified, SLPP would have still lost the presidency! As to whether she was mathematically right or wrong, I will prefer not to delve into for now. In this article, what I will delve into for your edification is the powers which were granted to her this year by the Elections Act passed in Parliament.

The 2012 Elections Act gives Dr. Christiana Thorpe the power to nullify results (invalidate votes) from any station guilty of fraudulent over-voting. The Act goes on to state that if such nullification will change the pattern of the final results, then a re-run of the elections SHALL be conducted (I repeat, SHALL be conducted). However, if such nullification does not affect the final results, then no re-run should be conducted at those stations. Obviously, you have not read the 2012 Act hence you are displaying an embarrassingly gross IGNORANCE!

If you read the 2012 Elections Act, then you will learn that it says:

• “If the votes cast at an election are more than the number of registered voters, the result will be declared null and void by the Electoral Commission and another election conducted at another date to be fixed by the Commission, if the results affect the overall result in the electoral area. But if the result will not affect the overall result, then no election will be conducted”.

 

This your ignorance of the 2012 Act is why you write:

•  I am confident, however, that after her agency carefully examines all the evidence that the SLPP have presented, she will conclude that over-voting did take place (with impunity, I might add) in most polling stations in the Western Area, the Northern Province, and Kono. She would then be forced by both the law and her conscience to annul all votes in the affected polling stations. And if after such annulments, Maada Bio ends up with 55 percent or more of the valid votes, she would have to follow the precedent she set in 2007 by declaring him the duly elected president of Sierra Leone. (Enti nah void bring Ernest cam, nah void for kerram go!)

Let us, for argument sake, accept your wild claims of ‘over-voting’ in APC support areas. After now learning what the 2012 Electoral Laws actually state as against the nonsense you are peddling about annulments automatically making Maada Bio to be winner, I am sure you will now come to the realisation that you are simply misleading yourself into a false sense of euphoria over a victory that can never happen in Sierra Leone.

A lying, ‘collective responsibility’ mass-murdering, corrupt despot like Maada Bio cannot be able to fool all the people all the time. Yes, he has fooled many; mostly along tribal lines, but he has not been able to hoodwink everyone which is why President Koroma is headed for a landslide victory despite all the carefully orchestrated games of the opposition operatives including their hijacking of the media landscape.

The DANGER though, as I have highlighted with the ‘cherry-picked’ secret SLPP emails from the TAMU listserv computers, is that such misinformation will falsely raise the hopes of your SLPP supporters and make them more pliant to wreck havoc on the country. That, is the most heartless action I have ever seen from a politician. You SLPP academics, despite all your education, are just a wicked bunch of desperados ready to plunge this country into violence and un-rest but the good Lord has already stripped your plans stark naked and it will NEVER come to pass.

Professor Kelfala Kallon, indeed you continue to be my good compatriot but I will henceforth hesitate to use the term “good friend” when describing my relationship with you. It now crystal clear that your morals, sense of justice and ethics in practising patriotism and nationalism, are quite different from mine. You are happy to defend a self-confessed ‘collective responsibility’ murderer whose Joint Criminal Enterprise led to the murders of dozens of innocent persons including a pregnant woman. You wave off reprehensible acts of corrupt squirreling of State funds after larceny of them. The list of why Julius Maada Bio should never have been countenanced as presidential material is so long that I can only shake my head at SLPP presenting him to us.

How can I share friendship with such a person who changes the goal posts to suit his defence of a Bio candidature? It would be difficult to share a friendship with you sir. Every fibre of my being will kick against it. In the meantime, can I please appeal to you, in the name of God Almighty, to STOP misleading SLPP youths that they stand any chance of winning the Presidency?

In the name of God, STOP THIS MADNESS! Your claims of electoral fraud are all junk with no credibility to them! The children of Sierra Leone have suffered too much; the women do not want war; the old men are tired of war. No one wants war in Sierra Leone again. No more hindo-hindo or ndorgborwusu or RUF freedom fighter business. Ee do so bo!

The full text of Christiana Thorpe’s Statement to the Media of 17 September 2007 follows down below. I trust it edifies you. Good day to you sir.

*******************

National Electoral Commission (NEC)

15 Industrial Estates, Wellington, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Statement from NEC Chairperson

NEC Statement to the Media – 17 September 2007

At our last briefing, we informed the media and the public that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) would undertake a series of investigations and recounts in order to finalize the results of the presidential election run-off. We are happy to report today that the Commission undertook the field work during the period established and is ready today to present its findings. We at NEC are satisfied with the verification process which was undertaken, and are very confident that the official results we are about to announce are indeed those recorded in the polling stations and accurately reflect the will of the voters.

Nevertheless, it is with regret that we report that, despite all the measures taken to hinder electoral malpractices, there were instances where malpractice and fraud were attempted. The system we have instituted at NEC makes it difficult for fraud to be successfully undertaken, but it cannot completely stop those who are intent on manipulating the results from actually trying. This is the reason why NEC needed to be careful with the tallying of results. We are pleased that we have been able to detect malpractices and have taken appropriate remedial action to limit the influence which such acts would otherwise have.

For example, during the verification process we discovered counterfeit results forms which were sent to NEC from polling stations throughout the country. It was not difficult to detect them as they contained a spelling mistake in the title, the word ‘form’ was spelled ‘from’. Three such cases were identified at polling centres 07131 in Port Loko, 11153 in Moyamba and 13056 in Western Rural. The Commission responded by recovering the original forms issued to the stations that contained the true and accurate results. These were then entered into the tally.

There were also attempts at ballot stuffing and ballot-box swapping, but they were detected thanks to the measures put in place and the investigations conducted. Additionally, through the recounting process undertaken with party agents and observers, we were able to either confirm results or uncover various anomalies which were then addressed to accurately reflect the poll.

As reported earlier, the Commission noted polling station results with turn-outs of over 100%. It is impossible for voter turnout in excess of 100% to have taken place without fraud or illegal action. The Commission has been left with no option but to invalidate all results from polling stations reporting over 100% turnout. In all, 477 stations across the country have thus been invalidated, as follows: Kailahun:90, Kenema:65, Kono:9, Bombali:17, Kambia:8, Koinadugu:12, Port-Loko:2, Tonkolili:6, Bo:123, Bonthe:2, Moyamba:24, Pujehun:113, Western Rural:1 and Western Urban:5.

It is extremely regrettable to have to invalidate even a single polling station, and it is a decision that the NEC did not take lightly. However, the responsibility for the act of invalidation falls on those who are responsible for the malpractices, it is they who should be held accountable for disenfranchising voters, as there were legitimate votes cast in these polling stations.

There is one important element to highlight: international election standards say that the invalidation of votes does not require a repeat of the polling exercise if the act of invalidation does not affect the outcome of the poll. The National Electoral Commission can confirm that in the case of 8 September poll these invalidations have NOT affected the outcome of the election.

NEC will continue to collaborate with the law enforcement agencies in the investigations of all electoral malpractices reported.

There is a very important message arising from these elections: there is no longer a place for fraud and malpractice in the Sierra Leone electoral system. The people of Sierra Leone deserve to exercise their rights in an atmosphere of freedom, fairness and transparency. This is what NEC strived to provide and will continue to strive for in the future – nothing less will be tolerated. Those who cheated have succeeded in doing a disservice to their respective candidates. They also succeeded in disenfranchising fellow Sierra Leoneans. But they did not succeed in tarnishing either the results or the credibility of the process.

The results

  • 5,679 polling station results were entered into the results database, representing 100% of all polling stations across the country, excluding those that were invalidated.
  • The average national turnout is 68.09%.
  • The total number of valid votes cast is 1,740,058.
  • There are 43,793 invalid votes, representing 2.45% of total votes cast.
  • The general summary of the results, as well as the detailed results, by station and by centre, will be posted on the NEC website: www.necsierraleone.org.

The presidential run-off results by districts:

Koroma – APC

Berewa – SLPP

Kailahun

11,631

111,695

Kenema

32,666

160,699

Kono

52,908

74,458

Bombali

125,419

14,095

Kambia

61,250

14,449

Koinadugu

42,178

23,130

Port Loko

132,287

17,789

Tonkolili

101,296

12,958

Bo

37,006

105,459

Bonthe

20,018

28,313

Moyamba

26,485

49,886

Pujehun

2,875

38,107

WA Rural

55,332

22,842

WA Urban

249,056

115,771

National results

950,407

789,651

In exercise of the powers conferred on the Returning Officer by section 37 of the Electoral Laws Act, 2002, I hereby certify that 950,407 valid votes were cast in favour of the candidate Ernest Bai Koroma at that election:

AND Ernest Bai Koroma therefore received the highest number of valid votes cast in the election:

Ernest Bai Koroma has been duly elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone at the Presidential Election of 2007.

Any citizen of Sierra Leone may challenge the validity of the election of the President by petition to the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, within seven days after the declaration of the Presidential results.

Christiana Thorpe,
Chairperson,
National Electoral Commission

 

© 2012, Sylvia Olayinka Blyden. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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Comments
Paul Arthur Williams says:

Thanks to our loving APC parliamentarians who unanimously voted in favor of giving Christiana Thorpe a 100% power to invalidate votes if there is a trace of election malpractice. She did it in 2007 when she had little or no power, so now that she has all the power, Sierra Leoneans at home and Diaspora are watching closely. The true voice of the people must be heard and all complains must be dealt with immediately. We look up to Dr Christiana Thorpe to take a quick and decisive action to save our motherland descending into civil unrest as we look up to her to place the country above individual or single political interests. She may remain in that position for more years as long as justice prevails and good conquers evil. Any new administration will retain her as a good decision maker and protector of fledgling democracy. God bless the Republic of Sierra Leone.