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Bong: Aspirants violate NEC’s mandate?

By: Joseph Titus Yekeryan

It seems that some aspirants in Bong and Lofa Counties are violating the mandate from the National Elections Commission; refusing to bring down their flyers and billboards that have inscriptions of voter registration awareness in the counties.

Prior to the end of the second phase of the Biometric Voter Registration, the National Elections Commission released a statement mandating all would-be aspirants to take down BVR awareness flyers immediately after the end of the exercise.

“The National Elections Commission mandates that on or before midnight 15 May 2023, all would-be aspirants must take down or remove their billboards, posters, banners, jingles, dramas, utterance and other forms of promotional paraphernalia from where they are situated” the release said.

The NEC said failure to comply with its mandate would lead to consequences for the candidate nomination process, which commences on June 14, and ends on 14 July 2023.

It is little over a week since the end of the second phase of the Biometric Voter Registration in Bong, Lofa, Nimba and six other Counties in Liberia.

But billboards and flyers are still placed in the streets and on public facilities in Bong and most parts of Lofa County.

This has made a lot of people to question the NEC whether it is serious about its own mandate. However, the NEC in its release “said failure to comply with its mandate would lead to consequences.”

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“While en-route to work this morning, I encountered several posters and billboards of would-be aspirants along the streets of Gbarnga. I am certain that there are a lot more posted in rural areas” Prince Eric Cooper, the Regional Coordinator of NYMOTE said.

“NEC, you are under an obligation to ensure our electoral laws are adhered to. We are looking forward to the consequences they will face during the candidate nomination exercise” He added.

According to our Bong County Correspondent, some parts of Gbarnga and its environs are still flooded with flyers and billboards and those responsible seem to be paying deaf ears in bringing them down despite the NEC’s mandate.

“NEC supposed to take action against them, you can’t be fighting to serve higher position in the County then you be violating the laws of the land” Jerry Binda, a resident of Gbarnga told the local media on Friday.

Mr. Daniel Newland, the upper Bong County NEC Magistrate said besides at the National level, they have warned all would-be aspirants at the level of the county to bring down their billboards and that they are taking keen on anyone who would violate.

When asked whether they have already tracked down names of violators, he said “as far as I am concerned, the NEC is working, and our works will not close eyes on anyone who will violate the guidelines of the National Elections Commission.

At the Bong-Lofa border (Waterside), there are series of billboards that are still planted according to our Correspondent.  Also in Panta District, Representative Robert Womba and Mr. Emmanuel Urey still have posters there.

Our Correspondent said in Gbarnga, former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Representative Edward Karfiah and Mr. Johnny K. Kpehe have not brought down some of their posters and billboards.

Even though Jorquelleh District Representative Josiah Marvin Cole earlier claimed that he has brought down all of his billboards, our Correspondent says he has actually not done so.

A Billboard of Bong County District #3 Representative J Marvin Cole  

Others are Mr. Sayblee Weyea, the chairman of the Congress for Democratic Change and Mr. Paul T. Wheeler, a staff in the offices of Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.

There are people in the county who still doubt whether actions will be taken against would-be aspirants who are violating the NEC guidelines.

“My brother we all know that this country only good at making law, but the implementation aspect is always faced with problems. All these things that are happening, I know full well that NEC will not do anything about it because since I knew myself and been following politics in the Country, not a day NEC has denied anyone or punish anyone for doing pre-campaign” Alexander Forkpah told our Correspondent.

Forkpah believes that if NEC starts to take action, it will deter other people who may want to violate the laws of the commission.

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