From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

SPECIAL REPORTS
Violence & Disenfranchisement as 871 Voted out of 6,184 Registered in Sierra Leone's Bye Elections
By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden on Facebook:
Jan 16, 2012, 16:00

LATEST ON FOURAH BAY: There are 6,184 registered voters in Ward 396 of Freetown's Constituency 104 in Fourah Bay where elections were held amidst unconscionable violence Saturday January 14, 2012. Sadly, of the 6184, less than 900 voters were allowed to vote. For example, out of the 5,148 voters registered at Laura Dove’s 9 polling stations, less than 700 people were allowed to vote.

 

According to Hon. Babatunde Lewally, the MP for the constituency, “over 1,000 registered voters belonging to the APC party” including the APC Chairlady for the Constituency, Madam Mariama Suma (aka Nma Bangura) could not vote Saturday because of a misunderstanding caused when the NEC Polling Agents refused to allow them to vote because they had lost their voter ID cards.

 

According to Lans Fadika who spoke to me from his sick bed at Davidson Nicol Hospital, the reason why SLPP incapacitated him was because he discovered known SLPP activists were the ones hired by NEC to be polling agents at Laura Dove stations. NEC sources say they will investigate.

 

According to Alhaji M.S. Kargbo, the APC National Organising Secretary, the NEC Chair Dr. Christiana Thorpe had assured all political parties few weeks ago during an inter-party NEC Liaison Meeting that if voters went with an alternative form of Identification alongside a Police Statement (Clearance) confirming they had reported their Voter ID to be stolen, they would be allowed to vote if their names were on the Voters Register.

 

However, upon arriving at the Polling Stations, the “over 1,000 APC members” were turned away because their Police Clearance were dated AFTER January 9th 2012 which was supposedly the cut-off date for Police Clearance. The few SLPP members who had lost their Voter ID Cards, however all had Police Clearance dated before or on January 9th so they were allowed to vote.

 

The NEC Western Area Commissioner Miatta French eventually arrived at the Laura Dove Polling Station (the largest) to inform that all registered voters with clearance and alternative forms of ID should be allowed to vote but this was way after 4pm when most of the APC members had been turned away from voting and many had also fled the ongoing orgy of violence.

 

The Chairlady for Const. 104 not only suffered disenfranchisement due to loss of her Voter ID Card but she is also one of the victims of the SLPP violence in Fourah Bay Saturday. She suffered from a broken finger, contusions over her hands and arms and a series of stab wounds to her back and her arm which she says were inflicted on her by SLPP Chairman Aziz Carew and his group of young men imported from out of the constituency.

 

APC alleges the people whom Aziz Carew imported into Fourah Bay Saturday are former West Side Boys ex-combatants now living in Waterloo and also a group from Aberdeen. Aziz Carew has denied all charges of violence thrown at him. Carew’s residence was guarded by heavily armed police officers throughout Saturday night until Sunday morning to protect it from damage.

 

Sadly, the same could not be said about the APC party office in the Constituency which suffered extensive damage with all the windows broken and furniture smashed by youths whilst defenceless APC members including the APC Chairlady and APC Vice-Chairlady were inside. The son of the APC Vice-Chairlady was shot in the foot by the police officers whilst trying to go to rescue his mother. He has also been admitted at the Davidson Nicol Hospital to join Lans Fadika and the others. No reports of SLPP admitted in hospital.

 

Meanwhile, Councilor-elect Mohamed Kanu-Mansaray tells me that after he spoke to me Saturday and I posted his comments on the web [That he would wait until morning to treat his injury], his damaged hand got “very badly swollen up” and so he was advised not to wait until morning and he went to a hospital at Goderich Saturday night where he was given a POP bandage. He says doctors told him that one of the bones in his arm was definitely broken. He says he was injured by Hon. Tunde Lewally using a brick to hit his arm.


However, Hon. Tunde Lewally, like Aziz Carew, also denies any involvement in any violence on Saturday.


And for those who are interested, Yes, I have also mis-placed my Voter ID card like have most registered voters in Sierra Leone. Very few Sierra Leoneans can produce their 2007 Voter ID cards right now. It is terribly unfair to disenfranchise people simply because they have lost their voter ID cards which in reality are not even cards but slips of paper which are very easy to lose especially as it is now 5 years since those papers were issued to us.   #END#

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