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“Total falsehood” – NEC clarifies

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaAuthorities at the National Elections Commission or NEC have dismissed reported shady financial deals claims made by one of its former employees, Mr. Joseph Duwana in his (Duwana’s) letter of resignation, describing it as total falsehood, while questioning his rationale.

“The commission wishes to categorically state that these claims are false and misleading and are only intended to undermine the credibility of the commission,” NEC Chairman Jerome George Kokorya told local journalists at a press conference Friday.

Mr. Duwana, a former Director of Finance and Budget tendered in his letter of resignation on Monday, November 3, 2014, after overstaying his leave of absence in the United States.

In a tone that suggests existing bad blood between Duwana and his former employers, Duwana had among other things accused the electoral officials of lack of transparency and abusing the single source privileges granted it by the Public Procurement & Concession Commission or PPCC to engage in shady financial deals.

The former NEC Finance and Budget Director had further accused the Board of Commissioners of overstating several transactions to include vehicle purchase, ballot printing and stationery purchases.

“As I submit to you my letter of resignation, the cost of ballots remained double in excess of 275,000, the cost of elections material is stated in excess of 300,000, the cost of vehicles is overstated in excess of 200,000…,” excerpts of Duwana’s letter of resignation to his former bosses said.

But prior to Duwana’s resignation, he wrote his former employers on two occasion via email giving reasons while he had over stayed his leave.

On October 14, 2014, Duwana who had left for the United States long before Eric Duncan’s Ebola diagnosis brought about the current 21-days quarantine for travelers from the three affected West African countries wrote that he had to undergo his 21-days quarantine before scheduling his doctor appointment. On October 28, 2014, Duwana again wrote requesting an extended leave of absence due to other pending engagements. He had informed his employers that he would be back at the end of October, 2014.

Duwana’s resignation amid accusations of shady financial deals by his former employers has left authorities at the NEC questioning the rationale behind his claims which election officials have now rubbished with several documents to support their rebuttal.

The Ballot papers

Documents presented to this paper by NEC officials showed rather a significant decreased then excess.

The initial invoice from Bulk Press, a Ghanaian Company to the NEC was for 2,700,000 ballots at a unit cost of 0.50, with a total cost of US$1, 350,000 with a discount of 0.10 per unit cost, and a total of US$270,000 as discount NEC was due to pay US$1, 080,000 as total cost at the unity price of 0.40.

However, following a renegotiation and a reduction in both quantity and unit price from 2,700.000 to 2,640,000 ballot papers, Bulk Press agreed to a unit price of 0.20 making it a total of US$528,000. Thus the PPCC on July 7, 2014 issued a no objection to enable the NEC use a sole source method.

Vehicle purchase

On August 22, 2014 the PPCC granted the NEC no objection to single source the purchase of 22 NISSAN pickups from GBK motors based on an existing contract between GBK Motors which is exclusive authorized importer and distributor of new brand Nissan vehicles since September 15, 2012.

Supply of Electoral Stationery

After the submission of three bids, Inkript was found to have submitted the lowest bid for the supply of electoral stationery at the cost of US$1,029,000. Documents available to this paper following negotiations between NEC and Inkript, the amount was reduced to 965, 225, 00 with a difference or 63, 745.

Thus the PPCC on September 18, 2014 granted NEC no objection to award the contract to supply NEC with electoral stationery to Inkript. Addressing journalist Chairman Kokorya said, the commission is conscious of the fact that accountability is a guiding principle in all electoral management bodies globally and the NEC is no exception to the reality.

Mr. Duwana had earlier stated that NEC overstate or inflate the cost of materials and equipment intended for the Special Senatorial Election, but reacting to the reports, Kokorya indicated that at no time that the commission ever overstated or inflated the cost of materials and the allegations of Mr. Duwana is coming from the darkest parts of hell.

Explaining furthered, the NEC Boss maintained that the procurement purchased of all materials and equipment intended for the election were, and are being done within strict adherence to the regulations of the PPCC.

“Procurement processes already completed validated by the Ministries of Justice and Finance, where necessary before implementation. We also want to clarify that all contributions made by donors towards the election are captured in the election budget and disclosed to the government. Hence, the double payment claim made by Mr. Duwana is farfetched,” he said.

“In the spirit of transparency, we hereby declare in this public manner that the records and books of the commission remain opened to any examination by any appropriate agency or agencies of government, partners and other stakeholders,” the Commission concluded.

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