MONROVIA – FrontPageAfrica has learned that an Information Communication Technology (ICT) expert brought into the country by the opposition Unity Party to train poll watchers and data entry clerks has been arrested in River Gee County for alleged election meddling.
The opposition Unity Party (UP), led by former Vice President Joseph Boakai, is set to face off with the incumbent President George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) after both candidates went neck and neck in the October 10 election but failed to secure the constitutionally required 50 percent plus one vote to be declared the winner. The runoff election is scheduled for November 14, 2023.
FrontPageAfrica gathered that the UP’s IT expert, Sumson Essien, Jr., co-founder and CEO of Swift Ghana, was traveling with three others from Maryland County, where he had gone to train poll watchers and supervisors in the Southeastern region.
The Unity Party performed poorly in the region, which comprises five counties, known to be the stronghold of President Weah, who is seeking another six-year term.
According to police sources in River Gee, the Ghanaian expert is suspected of meddling in the October 10 elections and is alleged to be planning to continue the same interference in the November 14 runoff. However, FrontPageAfrica has not been able to independently verify these allegations.
When contacted for comments, Mo Ali, the spokesman for the Unity Party campaign team, confirmed the arrest. He stated that although Essien was arrested in River Gee on Wednesday, he was later transported to Harper, Maryland, and handed over to immigration authorities for protective custody. This action, according to Ali, was taken with the intervention of Senators Commany Wesseh and Boycharles Sogbie, among others.
Ali said Essien’s arrested was planned and triggered by spreading of falsehood that he had tampered with the National Elections Commission’s manual system to favor the Unity Party.
“There was a malicious propaganda spread by the CDC claiming that the Unity Party had brought in a Ghanaian hacker to manipulate the NEC manual system to change results in our favor from the Southeast… They had him arrested,” Ali said.
He said Essien was very instrumental, through his training, in preventing the rigging of election in Montserrado County was, therefore, asked to provide similar training in the Southeast.
Ali informed FrontPageAfrica that a photo of their IT expert was provided to the police in the Southeastern region, labeling him as a wanted person.
He also alleged that about 500 android phones, which supervisors are supposed to use for communication with poll watchers at various polling centers, were confiscated by the police in River Gee County. Additionally, Ali said that samples of the ballot papers used by the Unity Party campaign team, traveling with the Ghanaian expert, were also seized by the police.
While FrontPageAfrica was unable to obtain comments from the Liberia National Police by press time, the Unity Party spokesman stated that when they contacted the police, they were informed that an investigation was underway.
The Unity Party spokesman further alleged that their partisans engaged in campaign and civic voter education in the Southeast are being hindered and intimidated by officials in the region.
He called for the intervention of the Ministry of Justice to secure the release of Essien, who had been in Liberia for the past month and was working legally.