Liberia: NEC Re-selects Ekemp Int’l for Biometric Supplies Despite Flop at Re-demonstration￼
MONROVIA – FrontPageAfrica has gathered that the National Elections Commission has again chosen Ekemp International as the suitable vendor for the supply of biometric materials for the 2023 voter roll, despite its dismal performance in the re-demonstration of its bid proposal.
FrontPageAfrica, however, gathered that the decision to award the contract to Ekemp International and its partners was a unilateral decision by the Chairperson, Davidetta Brown Lansannah.
FrontPageAfrica has not been able to get comments from Madam Lansannah.
Mrs. Lansannah, according to some members of the Commission who asked for anonymity, has consistently interfered with the work of the procurement department and the evaluation committee since the bid for the procurement of biometric materials started. This, they said, is an absolute abuse of her office.
“I was not a part of any consultation that led to the decision that this same EKEMP should again be considered for the contract and forwarded to PPCC for a No Objection request. We are disrespected and we have been silent for so long. We are fed up and now is time for the public to know that the Commission has become a one-woman show,” one Commissioner said.
The Commissioner explained to FrontPageAfrica that the Board of Commissioners which is the highest decision-making body at the NEC had no say and was not consulted before Ekemp’s re-selection.
“I am shocked. This is becoming seriously embarrassing. Some of us don’t know why only this EKEMP, even when the company flopped the other day in their re-demonstration process. It is good the public knows that these decisions are not the Board’s decisions but Davidetta Browne Lansanah’s decisions,” the Commissioner said.
Section 2.10 of “The New Election Law” grants NEC chairperson the authority to “be the official spokesperson; presides over all meetings of election contests and controls, supervises and directs the administrative operation of the office of the Commission, and in consultation with the Commissioners, takes such corrective administrative measures for the smooth and effective operation of the Commission.”
The Commissioners said consultations to arrive at major decisions such as awarding contracts are usually “done by Lansanah and her preferred confidantes.”
When the NEC wrote the Public Procurement Concession Commission after the first evaluation which saw Ekemp International being forwarded to the PPCC for ‘no objection’.
The PPCC, being dissatisfied with the process raised some concerns and recommended that the evaluation is redone within certain guidelines, including a PowerPoint presentation regarding the equipment and software to be used, followed by an actual demonstration of its data entry, printing, and de-duplication process- using a person/persons designated by the panel.
The PPCC recommended that the videos and PowerPoint presentations are essential for future reference on a bidder’s obligations in case of a breach in the functionalities of the biometric system during the conduct of the Voter’s Registration.
The NEC had three objectives to achieve during the demonstration which include: the bidder must be able to detect multiple registrations immediately on the spot; the bidder must be able to issue a voter card on the spot; and the bidder must be able to demonstrate and effectively use everything that they specified in their tender document. Some of the companies had difficulties performing tasks that were important to NEC.
At the demonstration, Ekemp International, earlier preferred by the NEC for the contract could not print a card on the spot as required by the NEC, leaving many disappointed and raising eyebrows on the NEC over the first evaluation process.
They, however, filed a complaint to the PPCC and the NEC that they were not treated fairly during the re-demonstration. They also filed a petition for writ of prohibition on the biometric process.
EKEMP and partners, in an official complaint, said about a quarter of the time left allotted to them while demonstrating the enrollment process on the tablet, specifically at the point of printing the card, the evaluation panel interrupted and requested that the Joint Venture connect the tablet to the projector for the observers at the re-demonstration to see what was being displayed which took up some of the time allotted them, thereby, making it impossible for them to print out the ID card within the stipulated time.
Their case was thrown out of the Supreme Court which requested that they exhaust all the procedures for remedies at the NEC.
Meanwhile, though the complaint was filed before the NEC, there has been an investigative report on the report.