18th March 2018
Elections Day Today but the Kenema Ballot Papers Scam Baffles Sierra Leoneans!
By Abdul M. Bangura (07/03/18)
Few hours to the resumption of March 7, 2018 General Elections in Sierra Leone, the Kenema ballot papers scandal has baffled many voters.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) Kenema District Returning Officer, Musa Kangbai has disclosed to this reporter yesterday afternoon that indeed some ballot papers were discovered in Mano Junction, Kenema District, Eastern Sierra Leone. (Photo: Electorates lining up this morning to cast their votes).
Whilst narrating, Mr. Kangbai said: "NEC office in Kenema District on Monday decided to start the deployment of materials to wards outside the Kenema town." He said, there are 25 wards outside Kenema and as a result, they had wanted to deploy materials to those constituencies in the Kenema suburb, whilst on Tuesday 6th March they had planned to focus on the 18 wards and 3 constituencies within Kenema.
He said before the distribution started, he had spoken to the head of the police in Kenema District, Assistant Inspector General Alfred Karrow Kamara for provision of 25 armed guards to aid them in the distribution of sensitive electoral materials outside Kenema.
Mr. Musa Kangbai noted that NEC then attached an armed guard to each of the Ward Coordinators who were ordered to take the none sensitive materials to their destinations.
He said at about 9:30pm Monday night, he got a call from one of the Ward Coordinators in Mano Junction and Lagor in Kenema District telling him that a certain local chief had called him that a boy had taken some ballot papers to the chief.
He said, he went to the scene and found out that the Ward Coordinator who was supposed to take the papers along with him, had packed his vehicle at the Mano Junction Police Station. He said upon reaching the scene he asked the Ward Coordinator as to what actually had happened.
Mr. Kangbai said argument ensued between the Ward Coordinator and the driver after the vehicle carrying the ballot papers had broken down in Mano Junction. "The driver moved the vehicle with high speed and eventually the vehicle went into a pothole," he added.
The NEC Kenema District Electoral Officer said that it was during this time that the backboot of the vehicle opened but the driver and the security did not stop the vehicle and continue driving.
He said, after driving for so long without stopping, the driver then noticed that some ballot papers had flown out of the car's boot. They reported the matter to the Chief in Mano, who eventually took them to the Mano Police Station.
Mr. Kangbai indeed confirmed that a bike rider had tendered to the police 2 ballot papers yesterday morning. He also said a man at the Ataya base in Mano said he saw when the car's boot opened and he stopped the driver but the driver did not stop. Mr. Kangbai however said that in total, 4 ballot papers got missing, but all said have been recovered.
Mr. Kangbai said the AIG in Kenema Alfred Karrow Kamara insisted himself, the NEC Kenema District Electoral Officer should report at the police station to give statements, which he said they had already done.
Meanwhile, police AIG Karrow Kamara said the police has launched an investigation and he is currently filling reports to the Inspector General and the Deputy Inspector General.
Courtesy: Abdul Malik Bangura
Another Version of the Ballot Papers Story: APC and SLPP Operatives Named in Election Materials Theft!
Reliable sources from Kenema district have indicated that some NEC workers and the ruling APC government and SLPP officials are involved in the ballot paper theft.
According to sources, the NEC irregularities were made public by ASP Harry Tucker, the Officer Commanding at Mano Junction Police Station yesterday, March 6 at 11pm intercepted a huge consignment of presidential ballot papers between Mano Junction and Largo in the Kenema district. According to the principal accused and suspect, he admitted to the fact that “some people within the vicinity took the ballot papers to him”.
The materials intercepted are ten (10) Presidential ballot papers with serial numbers PR 0380751 to PR 0379800. Each booklet containing fifty (50) leaves, Six (6) Parliamentary ballot papers with serial numbers PARL. 0009851 to 0009850. Each booklet contains fifty (50) leaves.
Another consignment included thirteen (13) CHAIR/MAYOR ballot papers with serial numbers CM 0174951 to CM 0176350. Each booklet contains fifty (50) leaves.
Six (6) booklets of councillor ballot papers with serial numbers C 0004051 to C 0004300 with each booklet containing fifty (50) ballot papers were also discovered.
Another startling interception included Tactile ballot guide for blind people. One leaf (7) RRF3 reconciliation and result form 3 for Local Council elections chairman and Mayor. Four (4) booklets. RRF4A reconciliation and result form for Local Council elections Councillor (Single member ward) Total four (4) booklets also in police net.
Also, one (1)Reconciliation and result form (RSF) for Presidential elections, four (4) booklets with 2 reconciliation and result form for Parliamentary elections were also discovered. In total, four (4) booklets. RSF Record of SEALS form and one (1) Leaf were among the looted material items.
In another development of stolen voting materials, one Foday Mambu, a Youth Leader in Largo town, Kenema district was also seen and arrested yesterday morning at Largo town with various voting materials he said were given to him by the Town Chief, Chief Amara Solo Musa.
He was caught with one (1) booklet of Chairman/Mayor ballot papers with serial numbers CM 0175951 to CM 0176000. Each booklet contains fifty (50) Leaves, sixteen (16) booklets of Reconciliation and Result forms, one (1) of record of SEALS forms and one (1) Tactile ballot guide.
The NEC Chief Electoral Officer N’fa Allie Conteh could not be reached for comment. Investigations into what many believe is an attempt to rig the votes between the APC and the SLPP parties.
This elections related theft of ballot papers comes at a time when the country is gingering itself up for free, fair and transparent elections today March 7. Sierra Leone is waking up to elections day today as baffling reports about missing ballot papers emerged in Kenema District. Fingers are pointing directly at the ruling APC government and the main opposition SLPP party.