25th April 2018
Police Probing NEC Emails for Back Dating the Signatures of Election Results!
By Mohamed Kamara (23/03/18)
Police are investigating the National Electoral Commission emails for allegedly giving instructions to back date signatures of election results.
Close observers of the situation unfolding at the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in the last 48 hours, have opined to the Awareness Times newspaper that Mr. Nfa Alie Conteh, the Chairman and Chief Commissioner of NEC (photo), is in a state that can be likened to a man who is figuratively “shitting in his pants”; meaning he is jittery and in a state of highest levels of panic. They made the observation after Conteh issued an unusual press release on the evening of March 21st 2018 alleging NEC was under police harassment. Simultaneously, journalist Umaru Fofana also posted similar allegations on social media.
However, this newspaper is most reliably informed by sources within the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Sierra Leone Police that Conteh is playing emotional blackmail because he is jittery over the legitimate Search Warrants which the Police have used at NEC Offices recently to request for alleged criminal emails sent to District Electoral Officers (DEOs). The alleged criminal emails said to have been sent from NEC headquarters, criminally instructed NEC staff to criminally back-date their signatures on time-sensitive documents.
Apparently emails were sent out on March 18th 2018 urging DEOs to do what a CID police detective say is “criminally forge the dates” on district elections results that were to have been certified prior to the March 13th 2018 final results announcement as per the law under the Public Elections Act.
Our sources say the realisation that the Police had been tipped off about the alleged forgery of dates of signatures on such time-sensitive elections results documents is what has caused a very jittery Nfa Alie Conteh to pre-empt the expected move of the Sierra Leone Police on the NEC headquarters over the emails.
Factually, if it is true that the NEC DEOs never themselves compiled and owned the results of their districts but rather, the district totals emanated from Freetown NEC headquarters, then the integrity of the electoral process under the Law, is now under serious question. Another important issue for the citizens of Sierra Leone is that, if it is indeed proven that the NEC leadership tried to get DEOs to forge the dates on their certified district results which the DEOs infact, never owned in the first place, then a very serious criminal act has happened and something is suspicious about the numbers that were deliciously cooked up in Freetown and sent down to be served in the districts. Normally and by law established, the numbers should have gone in the other direction; from the districts to Freetown through the regions.
To make matters worse for the nervous NEC boss, the exclusive bombshell by the Awareness Times newspaper of a list of 400 polling centers which over-voted but were never discovered and so got included within the final results announced by Nfa Alie Conteh, are all the more reasons why Conteh is so jittery right now.
Sources within the CID inform this newspaper that the detectives who are handling this matter are not bothered by the emotional blackmailing tactics of Conteh. The police officers are said to remain very focused and will “never be intimidated from investigating the alleged fraud and forgery of the Elections Results announced”.
Reliable information is that the Sierra Leone Police have already received confessions from many of the NEC District Electoral Officers that they indeed forged the dates by their signatures on numerical results “cooked up in Freetown” and then “sent down to the districts” for district staff to back-date and sign as fait accompli. Elections experts say that the implications for this on the final results of the first rounds are “very, very, very serious” which is why Nfa Alie Conteh is metaphorically “shitting in his pants” right now.
Dr. Michael Kamara, a college lecturer, told this newspaper that Nfa Alie Conteh and the entire NEC leadership are now facing an integrity crisis on many levels and it could even trigger unprecedented actions against NEC leadership. It is expected that all NEC activities are to be conducted under strict integrity.
Meanwhile, please see below for more on the 400 polling centers which over-voted but with stations that were not excluded by Nfa Alie Conteh. A PDF file with the entire list of 400 Centers plus their percentage of over-voting, is also attached to this update.
Over-Voting Uncovered in 400 Polling Stations
Credible information reaching Awareness Times newspaper is that a group of University lecturers specialising in Information Technology, have uncovered that votes cast in up to 400 Polling Centers with massive over-voting, were included in the final results announced by Nfa Alie Conteh, the Chief Electoral Commissioner in Sierra Leone. The numbers of affected votes, according to our sources, could potentially run up to figures that if added or removed may have given a 1st round victory to one of the two candidates now running in the second rounds.
Some of the findings shown this newspaper states:
1. That on the 7th March, 2018, NEC conducted elections throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone for Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government offices.
2. That after the said Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections, NEC and their representatives based on their statutory mandate, counted the votes casted in each Polling station.
3. That on or around a week prior to the March 7th 2018 elections, NEC made available on their website, for the information of the general public, an information data file containing the list of all Polling Centers, the number of Polling Stations per Polling Center and the grand total of Registered Voters within that Center. The information was in Microsoft Excel format and had its information data fields categorised as Region, District, Constituency, Ward, CentreID, CentreName, Count and Stations; where Count represents the total number of Registered Voters per center.
4. That on March 13th 2018, Head of NEC, Mr. Nfa Alie Conteh, announced at a Live Press Conference the national figures for each presidential candidate who contested the March 7th 2018 elections during which he stated that he had decided to declare the results from 221 polling stations around the country as null and void so they had been excluded from the final results. That a Runoff second rounds was ordered since no candidate reached the required 55% threshold. Press Statement he read out was signed, stamped, distributed to the public and uploaded to NEC Website.
5. That Mr. Nfa Alie Conteh on that March 13th 2018 said 221 polling stations were excluded because they “included where the votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters” meaning that he had excluded all Polling Stations where there were more votes cast at those stations than there were registered voters for those stations. That the list of 221 excluded polling stations were subsequently published as a Press Statement and made available to the public on the NEC website.
6. That on a subsequent date, NEC made available on their website an information which they purport to be the Final Results, by polling station, of the March 7th 2018 Presidential election disaggregated by District and published on the website as 16 different information files representing each of the 16 electoral districts. The 16 district information files were in Portable Document Format (PDF) and each file had its information data fields to be District, RegistrationCenterID, Polling Station Number and finally, Results for each of the presidential candidates of the various political parties who contested the elections.
7. That on professional examination of the data the lecturers were able to identify that indeed 221 polling stations aforementioned, had been excluded from the Final results of first rounds.
8. That whilst continuing their professional examination of the data, the university lecturers realized the sum total of valid votes cast at all polling stations within particular Centers included amongst the Final Results were in excess of the number of registered voters published by NEC as supposed to fall within that particular Center.
9. That using their professional Data Mining skills, they were able to easily extract that 400 of such Polling Centers had their votes included in the Final Results announced by Nfa Alie Conteh, even though these 400 Polling Centers clearly had “votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters”.
10. Using their professional skills, the lecturers created a tabulated breakdown of these 400 polling stations whose data were extracted according to District, Constituency, Ward, CenterID, CenterName, Number of Registered Voters, Total Valid Votes (cast on March 7th 2018), Excess Number of Valid Votes more than Registered Voters and finally, the percentage of such excess over-voting. A printed out copy of this tabulated breakdown is available and has been seen by Awareness Times newspaper. It is published in today's edition on several pages.
11. That from the data analysis, the over voting data field information was calculated based on the simple fact that the total number of votes cast per Polling Center should not exceed the total number of registered voters at that Center. However, the lecturers still observed massive over voting in these 400 Polling Centers across the country with one ranging as high as 991% and many with over-voting approaching 500%.
12. That the 400 affected polling centers are spread as 131 in Bo District, 90 in Port Loko District, 67 in Moyamba District, 39 in Koinadugu, 23 in Tonkolili, 19 in Falaba, 15 in Karene, 6 in Kono, 5 in Bombali, 2 in Bonthe, 2 in Pujehun and 1 in Kailahun.
13. That it is quite unclear as to how come NEC had stated that “results from 221 polling stations were excluded, including where the votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters” but yet the NEC Chairman, Nfa Alie Conteh, went on to include 400 other polling centers with crystal clear evidence of votes cast having exceeded the number of registered voters – i.e: massive over-voting.
14. That the lecturers believe as registered voters themselves, that as a consequence of the exclusion of 221 polling stations where the "votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters” but with a concomitant inclusion of 400 Polling Centers similarly affected by having “votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters”, they are concerned over the credibility of the Final Results of the first rounds of the presidential elections.
15. That by virtue of all the above, they are of the strongest conviction more than ever before, that the inexplicable inconsistency as shown, may in the future particularly for the imminent run-off elections, produce serious disputes over the credibility of any results therefrom.
16. That the spirit of the Public Elections Act and the purpose of conducting the said elections is to ensure that all legitimate votes by the people of Sierra Leone in choosing leaders and representatives of the people be counted and included with only illegitimate votes to be discarded.
17. That they also believe also that the consequences of NEC to proceed into runoffs in the manner similar to what transpired on the 7th of March, 2018 and thereafter, will culminate into further chaos, especially in the face of manifest election irregularities that threaten our fragile peace and democracy as a nation; further to that, the integrity of our Sovereign Nation is at stake as the International Community are observing to see if we as a Nation are capable of holding free, fair and credible elections on our own.
18. That they believe that all must be done to direct NEC to avert the occurrence of unfavourable outcomes resulting into chaos as a result of inconsistencies in excluding votes cast at Polling Stations.
19. That many citizens have the strongest conviction that in light of the heightening political tensions, especially between the two major political parties, nothing will be acceptable if not an adequately transparent election process and clearly credible elections results, which had been doubted by both.
20. That as a result of the huge outcry by all political parties and candidates involved in the March 7th 2018 elections, it is proper for an audit to be conducted on the entire election process to ascertain the credibility of the process including why some polling stations got excluded and others got included.
21. That whilst waiting for the audit of the systems that allowed over-voting, it is expedient for an injunction to be sought from the Law Courts preventing NEC from pronouncing any further result and from conducting the run-off election scheduled for 27th March 2018.
WE WERE UNABLE TO REACH NEC AT PRESS TIME BUT WE WILL CONTINUE TRYING TO REACH NEC FOR THEIR COMMENTS OVER THE DISPARITY OF DATA ON THEIR WEBSITE.
Courtesy: Awareness Times Newspaper - Thursday 22nd March 2018