February 3, 2019
By Frederick V. Kanneh
Residents of Constituency 110 in the Goderich community, Western Rural District and its environs, have threatened to boycott the 2023 general elections if the National Electoral Commission (NEC) fails to conduct the re-run parliamentary by-election which result was cancelled on August 24 as a result of electoral violence.
Alice Yei Siaffa told this medium that they felt disenfranchised as a community to be without parliamentary representative, adding that government has treated them unfairly because they indefinitely suspended the by-elections.
She added that all other communities are represented in Parliament but theirs has been without a representation since the High Court ruling of May 31, 2019 reversed the winning of the All People’s Congress (APC) and ordered for a rerun by-election.
She stated that their constituency is faced with series of challenges that needed to be channeled in the well of parliament for remedy, but unfortunately there was no body to advocate for development on their behalf.
“It is our right to have a Member of Parliament, and it is also our right to be represented in parliament. The same NEC people know who disrupted the last election. We are surprised that they cannot corroborate with the police to prosecute those individuals. We are expecting them to take action against those unruly persons rather than keeping our constituency without parliamentarian. If they fail to conduct this election which will give us the opportunity to elect our member of parliament, this constituency will boycott the 2023 general election,” he said.
Another resident of the affected constituency, Tamba J. Matturie, admitted that he has a lot to say about the said election, but he was afraid that people in the government will haunt him because there is ‘no freedom of speech’ in Sierra Leone.
He alleged that even the Human Rights Commission that is charged with the constitutional responsibility to defend human rights issues in the country are being politicised because the heads were chosen by the government of the day, adding that the judiciary is also another arm of government that are full of toothless bull dog.
“If I have any Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that would assure my protection after I have said my mind on this issue, I will tell you everything about the last rerun election with empirical evidences. But over the years, even the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have failed to protect innocent citizens from the wicked hands of the government,” he alleged.
He alleged that there are instances where prominent people have gone to jail for saying what they believe in, thus noting that he won’t risk his life.
“What I can assure you is that I will not partake in any election if the rerun election is not conducted in our constituency,” he said.
Another resident, Fereh Musu Koroma told this medium that NEC has failed the people of their constituency by refusing to conduct the rerun by-election that would have given them a representation in parliament, thus adding that their attitude is unjust and unacceptable.
She continued that the constituency is at the moment suffering because of few individuals who disrupted the past by-election, nothing that if NEC is an institution that really worth its salt, it could have punished the individuals that disrupted the said election and conduct another.
“Some of us have decided to stage a peaceful protest in front of the NEC office and express our grievances. After that, if they fail to address our concerns, they we will definitely talk to all and sundry not to take part in the forthcoming national election,” she said.
Meanwhile, the vacancy in Constituency 110 came as a result of a High Court ruling delivered by Justice Komba Kamanda on 31st May, 2019, ordering NEC to rerun elections in the said constituency, following a successful election petition filed by the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) candidate that lost the 7thMarch, 2018 election to the APC candidate, Kadija Davis.
The reason for the cancellation was as a result of a reported violence at the Sarah Modern Preparatory School, one of the polling centres, covering 10 polling stations and consisting of 2903 voters where it was alleged that 10 ballot boxes were destroyed by a personal security to the ruling SLPP cabinet minister.
However, Josephine Jackson of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Kadie Davies of the main opposition APC, Mohamed Kabbah of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and Femi Claudius Cole of the Unity Party contested in the said election.
Both the SLPP and the APC claimed winning the said election, while the Bar Association and other Civil Society Organisations including Legal Link condemned the action of NEC and threatened to take the electoral body to court, but that hasn’t been materialised since the indefinite suspension of the said election five months ago.