…Avers Hon. Segepor Thomas
March 31, 2017 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Hon. Segepor Thomas: accuses NEC of deliberate errors
As Members of Parliament yesterday started deliberating on a controversial statutory instrument on electoral boundaries that had been tabled by the Deputy Minister of Justice, an opposition lawmaker representing Constituency 78 in Bonthe District, has stated that manifest errors in the ongoing voter registration around the country were due to deliberate action by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), adding that there was no reasonable point to defend them.
Hon. Segepor Solomon Thomas was yesterday contributing to deliberations by lawmakers on a private member motion moved by Sierra Leone Peoples Party Member of Parliament, Hon. Sualiho M. Koroma, that Ward boundary delimitation and Constituency boundary delimitation statutory instrument related to the Public Elections Act be debated in accordance with Standing Order 25 (2).
As lawmakers from both aisle argued on the motion, Hon. Thomas averred that there was no need to argue on the NEC issue because the electoral body followed the wrong path in carrying out the voter registration process.
“The errors in the ongoing voter registration are deliberate. I do have a strong feeling that NEC knows what they are doing. There is no reasonable defense as far as the errors are concerned,” he said and noted that parliament cannot afford to extend the date for elections already pronounced by President Ernest Bai Koroma.
According to him, parliament has the responsibility to instruct NEC to do the right thing, suggesting that they could be asked to produce results without any hesitation.
“They know that they should not do what they have done but because they think they are independent and therefore not answerable to us,” Hon. Thomas noted.
Mover of the motion, Hon. Sualiho M. Koroma, commended NEC for what he referred to their good work, but raised serious concerns about the delimitation of boundaries, which he argued needed urgent action of parliament.
“We will not want to be in a situation wherein after several months NEC come here and say they have made errors during the registration process. It will be difficult to correct those mistakes until after the 2018 elections. It is a national issues and not political,” he said.
Also, Hon. Umar Paran Tarawally, slammed the country’s electoral body for failing to put mechanisms in place for to ensure effective electioneering process.
“We are facing problem with the current proposal of extending the voter registration since the election date has already been fixed,” he said.
Deputy Speaker, Hon. Chernoh Bah, said that since no elections would be conducted until after parliament has been dissolved, parliament would not allow to be muzzled by the executive.
“Whether NEC has pronounced a date for election or whoever may have done any pronouncement will have to go by the laws of the land. Parliament is supreme and will not be undermined by anyone or institution,” he warned.
Also contributing was the Minority Leader, Hon. Dr. Bernardette Lahai, who stated that NEC cannot go ahead and do their work without parliament ratifying the document; hence they should inform lawmakers about statistics they are currently using to carry out voter registration as many eligible voters were left out during the census process.
“The process should be revisited in order for us to know where the problem is and address it with immediate effect. NEC should be called upon with immediate effect,” she said.
The Speaker adjourned the session until Tuesday, 4th April, after a cross-section of parliamentarians would have met the leadership of NEC on Monday, 3rd April in Committee Room 1.
Meanwhile, key civil society actors were seen in Parliament yesterday, apparently concerned about the seeming moves to derail the current time table for a smooth democratic transfer of power inn March 2018.
Executive Director of Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, Ibrahim Tommy, who was in Parliament, wrote on his Facebook wall: “Parliamentarians are currently debating a motion that seeks to stop the ongoing voter registration until the new constituency boundaries and districts are approved by parliament. No matter what parliament and the National Electoral Commission decide to do, NO ONE should directly or indirectly attempt to shift the date scheduled for presidential election by even a day! It will be resisted using all legitimate means!!”