As the ongoing national voter registration exercise continues across Liberia, credible information gathered by this paper indicates serious trooping of eligible voters in three counties.
This writer, who visited three parking stations under the control of the Transport Union of Liberia and the Road Transport Union of Liberia respectively, observed dozens of citizens patently awaiting commercial vehicles to travel from Montserrado County to Nimba and Gbarpolu counties to register.
Some of those spoken to by this paper said although they hail from the three counties, but are current residents of Monrovia, and have decided returning to their homeland to register and obtain their voter’s cards in preparation for the October 10th elections.
In Paynesville Red Light, group of individuals, including males and females boarded a white 32-seated bus without license plate, heading for Ganta City, Nimba County.
Mr. Johnson Yan, a professional nurse, said while it is true that he is in Monrovia, but in 2011, he registered and voted in Nimba County, where he permanently resides andcomes to Monrovia regularly for business transactions.
Yan challenged the National Elections Commission (NEC) to publish specific provisions of the elections guidelines that prohibit Liberians from registering in counties of their choice.
According to him, the Constitution of Liberia gives all citizens the rights to freely exercise their franchise without any hindrance whatsoever that could prevent them from participating in national undertakings.
At the Bopolu parking station situated in Duala, Bushrod Island, similar gathering of citizens from Gbarpolu County residing in Monrovia mostly business women, were seen with their personal effects such as traveling bags, on their way to various parts of the county to register and obtain their voter’s cards.
Kullah Gbassy, 42, who sells dried meat in Duala, claims that she came from Henry Town in Gbarpolu County, but was returning along with other relatives to Kongbar District where they hail to register, adding that they were compelled to register in their county because the candidate of their choice is contesting there.
She disclosed that following registration, they would return to Monrovia to wait for polling day - 10th October to go a cast their ballots. The Liberian business woman also stressed that it is their rights to register in any county of their choice because there is no law that prohibits citizens from participating in the national exercise, adding that if there were such laws, then people wouldn’t leave places that they previously lived to migrate to other parts of the country since the 2011 elections.
In some parts of Montserrado County, specifically Clara Town, Mamba Point and Logan Town, among others, people registered in those areas, but are reportedly not residing there.
Messrs. Dempster Williams, Community Watch Forum Coordinator of Mamba Point; Jenkins Domu of the Clara Town Elder Council; and Winifred Gibson of Central Monrovia, confirmed identifying people, who left those communities to register elsewhere, but added that there is nothing that they could do about the situation.
They also quoted relatives in Pantan and Zota districts in Bong County as saying that some aspirants are trooping people from Monrovia to the county in order to obtain their National Voters’ Identification Cards.
Meanwhile, police in Bong County have arrested three persons for attempting to falsify the ongoing voter registration process. The suspects, who left Monrovia to register in Electoral District Number Five. Bong County, told the police that they were transported to the district allegedly by representative aspirant Peter Flomo, said to be a pastor.
Ordinary citizens of Suakoko, who took suspicion of the attempt chased the suspects and attempted mobbing them before they ran to a nearby police station for rescue. According to the suspects, Pastor Peter Flomo, who had provided them scholarships in Monrovia, asked them to go to his district to register in order to vote for him in this year’s elections.
But Pastor Peter Flomo has refuted the claim, saying it is politically motivated. According to him, lot of his political opponents are using scare tactics to tarnish his hard earned reputation by attaching or linking him to negative activities that he knows nothing about.
The aspirant maintained that he has worked sufficiently in electoral district five and could not truck anyone in the area for the sake of obtaining more votes. Pastor Flomo said he is very surprised that the suspects linked him to the act.
Since the start of the voter registration exercise in Bong, there have been several complaints of voters trucking with some cases reported to the NEC local office in the county.
The National Elections Commission has warned against trooping voters from one community, district, or county to another with aim of influencing their votes.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne