By Lincoln G. Peters
Phase two of the Biometric Voter Registration process (BVR) observation findings released by the Election Coordinating Committee (ECC) on Tuesday, May 23, has linked Senate President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie, Montserrado County (D-5) Representative Thomas Fallah, Bong County (D-3) Representative Melvin Cole, and representative hopeful Musa Bility of massive voters trucking.
The ECC names Nimba, Bong, Lofa and Grand Kru as counties involved with mass trucking of voters during phase two of the BVR process.
It specifically accuses Senator Chie Representatives Fallah and Cole, representative hopeful Musa Bility and James Somah as individuals who were involved with trucking people in the counties outlined.
Officially releasing the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) phase two observation findings Tuesday, at ECC head office in Rose Garden Plaza, Crown Hill in Monrovia, Board Chairperson, Cllr. Oscar Bloh said, like in Phase One, Phase II of the exercise was characterized by voters trucking.
Cllr. Bloh alarms that the alleged trucking by the statesmen contravenes Section 10.1 of the New Election of Liberia.
“Below are documented instances of trucking reported by ECC observers allegedly done by those individuals. In Lofa Electoral District One at Sengar palava hut with Center Code 21083, an ECC observer reported the trucking of voters to the registration center, orchestrated by Representative Thomas Fallah. The group was intercepted by citizens who attempted to stop them from registering, which interfered with the registration process”, Cllr. Bloh narrates.
According to him, in Lofa County, Foya district#1 the ECC county coordinator reported an incident involving the denial of a male applicant, who was accused of being underage by his father.
Cllr. Bloh continues “The ECC coordinator claims that this prompted a police investigation and engagement of the NEC Magistrates responsible for this region. The investigation revealed that the male applicant was off legal voting age, and his father was imprisoned for making a false claim.”
He says in Grand Kru County, ECC received reports of electoral district#1 aspirant Alfred Boe, and Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chea being allegedly involved with voter trucking in Grand Kru County from Maryland and other areas of the county.
He details that in Grand Kru County, the ECC reported that the Lutheran Church, with Center Code 18018, as well as other areas in the county, were impacted by incidents of underage registration, saying that “The NEC Magistrates issued additional instructions to registrars, instructing them to ask parents who bust the facility to certify the age of their children to sign a bond before proceeding with the registration in order to regulate the situation.”
He explains that in Bong electoral district #3, specifically Meleki Town Hall with Center Code 06085, motorbikes and tricycles were seen transporting applicants to the registration center.
Cllr. Bloh points out that ECC observers received reports that the act was being financed by Representative Melvin Cole’s Office in Monrovia.
Also, the ECC chairperson reveals that in Nimba County District #5, Aspirant James Somah was reported to have trucked applicants in a pickup from District#1 in Ganta to Yao Lehpula, District #5, which resulted in a tragic motor accident leading to the death of at least three persons and several other persons wounded.
“In the same Nimba County in district#7, it was reported that Aspirant Musa Bility was involved with voter trucking of applicants to Saclepea, who were non-inhabitants. Our observers who were deployed at the various centers didn’t have to physically see or take photos of those named, but even if they facilitated the movement of voters, they are engaged in the crime because our observers asked the people and their names were called, including other incidents listed”, Cllr. Bloh adds.
He urges the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice to immediately take seize of the matter and investigate those individuals linked to the act in order to restore integrity and transparency in the upcoming elections.
“This is the responsibility of the state, particularly the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice to investigate and make sure that those who are found culpable are brought to book”, he underscores.
He points out that it is an open secret that all politicians are involved in trucking voters, but it’s the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice to arrest said suspects and hold them to account.
Cllr. Bloh adds that if suspects are allowed to go with impunity, and when systems are run like that, it runs a risk of undermining the outcome of the results.
He reiterates that voter trucking is prohibited according to Section 10.1 of the New Election Law because it is tied around vote buying.
“We see that this whole voter registration process had been influenced by uncontrollable financial resources which is undermining the credibility and integrity of the election. If this process is not discontinued or curtailed, we can say that this entire election will be commercialized when the campaign starts and people will be disenfranchised because of the infusion of huge and uncontrollable financial resources”, he warns. Editing by Jonathan Browne