Liberia: NEC Head Accuses Commissioner Sayor of “Inserting” US$2.8M in Commission’s Budget, But Sayor Refutes Allegation
Monrovia – Mr. Floyd O. Sayor, one of the commissioners at the National Elections Commission (NEC), has been accused by the head commissioner, of illegally inserting US$2,809,510 million in the Commission’s 2022 budget leading to the 2023 Presidential and General Elections Budget unbeknownst to her and other members of NEC Board of Commissioners.
In a memo to Commissioner Sayor, dated December 8, 2021, in the possession of this newspaper, NEC Chairperson, Commissioner Davidetta Browne Lansanah, brings this to Commissioner Sayor’s attention: “During the current or most recent (1-8 December 2021) Review of the 2022 Budget for defense, it was observed an insertion of some US$2,809,510.00 was made for live monitoring and tracking systems, for vehicles, bikes, casual laborers, canoes carrying Election Materials with no reference to my office, let along other sections, including Operations, Logistics, etc. Besides, there was no prior discussion or agreement/decision by the Board to undertake such an extensive venture in 2022-23, which increased the budget by US$2.8 million. Not having knowledge about this four (4)-line items and going into defense of the 2022 budget would have been a disaster on my part as Chair of NEC. This would have been irresponsible on my part not having knowledge of this budget aspect.”
She sternly stated in the memo to Sayor that her office takes exception to this event.
One of the listed items — live monitoring and tracking systems — raised by Chairperson Lansanah, has landed her in hot water and brought the Commission to public disrepute. She is now fighting a court battle to clear her name after the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) had found her guilty of using US$182,320 to rent 20 pieces of facial recognition system for the conduct of the by-elections in four counties from the company owned and operated by her biological brother, David Browne.
The intended use of the equipment was to detect the temperatures of voters during the November 16 by-elections in Nimba, Bong, Grand Gedeh, and Bomi Counties.
With the same or similar monitoring and tracking systems being captured again in the materials for the conduct of the 2023 Presidential and General Elections for a whooping US$2.8 million, the Commission and its Board of Commissioners risk being heavily ridiculed by the public.
Further in Madam Lansanah’s memo, she also pointed out other “gaps” to Sayor, who she and other commissioners agreed and made him Chairman of the Presidential and General Elections Steering Committee.
“I bring to your attention gaps in your handling of the administration of the 2023 Steering Committee
- Apparent lack of or neglect of documentation from committee meetings, including lack of minutes and attendance and reports to be briefed and to adequately inform the Board of Commissioners (BOC) prior to the implementation of proposals which have come by way of the 2023 budget process
- So far there has been no/limited knowledge or information to my office on whether or not Task Forces were constituted or not and what are their specific Terms of References or tasks.
- Generally, a reporting mechanism is lacking, with intermittent and ad hoc delivery of some documents on Biometric Voter Registration, etc.
- Generally, there is not a systematic call (agenda, date, and time) for meetings as none have reached my office
- I am yet to see a fully researched and documented recruitment plan for temporary electoral workers (Temporary staff).”
In closing her memo to her colleague, Commissioner Sayor, the NEC Chairperson, Commissioner Lansanah hopes that as Chairman of the 2023 Steering Committee, Sayor will bring her office up to speed on the achievements and documentation as indicated going forward. She, however, cautioned him: “Please note that other actions may be necessary to ensure a smooth running of the 2023 Steering Committee.”
Responding to these allegations, Commissioner Sayor categorically stated that the alleged US$2.8 million that Madam Lansanah accused him about, is nowhere in the NEC budget that is now before the Legislature for passage into law.
He argued that all the four-line items that Commissioner Lansanah mentioned in the memo have been in the NEC budget since 2005, the same length of time, he claims he has been in the employ of the Commission. According to him, as Chairman of the Steering Committee, he had set up various committees all of which discussed, debated, and came up with the same line items but later were rejected and removed.
He emphasized that someone at the NEC, whom he didn’t name, is going down; adding: “This person wants to take me down along. I have done nothing wrong in my role as Chairman of the 2023 Steering Committee.”
Commissioner Sayor also accused Chairperson Lansanah of still allegedly presiding over the affairs of the Commission even though she has been indicted and is battling a court case.