Election Hearing Officer Orders Rerun in Cape Mount County
Grand Cape Mount County – The Hearing Officer of the National Election Commission (NEC) has ordered a rerun in Viankaway polling center no.1 in District #1, Grand Cape Mount Count County.
Report by Bettie Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]
The rerun, according to the Hearing Officer, is based on the numerous testimonies and evidence adduced during the hearing by the aggrieved parties.
Atty. Joseph Tarweh says he’s convinced by the complainant’s evidence and further ordered the arrest of a female who voted twice.
The order of the hearing officer followed a complaint filed by Boima Monibah of Unity Party against Bob Sheriff an independent candidate who contested the Representative seat of the District in the October 10, 2017 elections.
In his complaint Monibah alleged that elections irregularities occurred during the elections specifically at the Bamballa precinct, voters were allowed to vote more than once was caught and turned over to the officer assigned to the center.
A hearing was conducted and Cllr. Peter Kerkula represented the complainant while the polling staff represented themselves.
Evidence of overstating votes at the polling place #1 Viankanway precinct and the denial of voting right of legitimate voters coupled with the existence of multiple voting at the Bamballa precinct, specially polling place #4 were part of reasons for which the hearing officer ruled for a rerun of the election in that district.
There was an initial hearing which was ruled in favor of complainant Monibah, but said ruling was cancelled and a retrial was ordered by the NEC Board of Commissioners on grounds that defendant Sheriff was not notified to attend the pre-hearing conference to make representation in accordance with law.
The new hearing was conducted and Sheriff was represented by Cllr. Swaliho Sesay.
Four witnesses testified on behalf of the complainant upon which Witness Simeon Taylor testified that there was an increase in voter roll from 305 to 315 at the Viakanway polling precinct.
Three voting cards were presented showing that people were denied from voting and people voted more than once.
Complainant Monibah corroborated the first witness’ in that there were electoral irregularities and malpractices.
Another witness, Ben Kamara, a UP agent and observer at the precinct assigned at polling place #4, said he saw one Sao Madave who was observed to have voted, as per the indelible ink placed on her finger, came for the second time, using another voting card bearing the name, Mamie Kamara to vote and was caught an turned over to NEC official for interrogation but up to the time of the closure of the entire elections, he has no knowledge of her whereabouts.
The defendant produced four witnesses including Sam Taylor, electoral supervisor for District no.1 Grand Cape Mount who oversaw six of the precincts including Bamballa and Viankaway precincts.
Defendant Sheriff testified that he did not receive any complaint from Bamballa as stated by the complainant.
Complainant’s lawyer: “ Mr. Witness, are you aware that instead of 305 persons that registered to vote at polling place no.1, Viankaway District #1 =, 319 persons voted?”
He responded: “That is not my business; all that I know is that I overwhelmingly won the election because I have the highest votes.”
In the ruling, the hearing officer said there were two things to determine whether the complainant provided sufficient evidence to prove the allegation raised in his complaint against the defendant and whether or not the defendant in the hearing provided evidence to support the case on his side.
Atty. Taweh said the hearing in its determination to establish the legal duty by conducting fair hearing in line with the NEC where there is a dispute as to elections irregularities.
He added that it was discovered that a total number of 319 voters voted instead of 305 voters consistent with the final registration roll of NEC, while two valid votes were observed after the count.
NEC hearing officer said the defendant failed to produce evidence to disprove the evidence produced by the complainant or to set aside the allegation made.
“Therefore the allegations as made by the complainant are hereby deemed admitted,” he ruled.
Meanwhile, Cllr. Kerkula, legal counsel of the complainant said his client is prepared for an appeal to the Board of Commissioners.
He expressed confidence in the legal process, adding that it’s the only way in sustaining peace in a nation.