Police deny intimidating NEC staff

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March 23, 2018

In the wake of a press statement issued on Wednesday, 21st March, by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) accusing the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) of intimidating their staff, the SLP has replied in statement that ‘it came as a surprise’ for the commission to ‘purport that their premises had been unwarrantedly entered with their staff obstructed.’

A press release signed by the Inspector General of Police, Dr. Richard Moigbe, and read by Superintendent Ibrahim Samura at a government press briefing at the Ministry of Information and Communications conference hall, noted that the Criminal Investigation Department was currently investigating over two hundred election related and malpractices across the country.

“Some of these cases involve NEC staff. Some of whom have already been charged to court. Whilst the police recognize the role of NEC as being the body constitutionally mandated to conduct credible elections, the SLP is similarly the body empowered by the same constitution to probe suspected/alleged/reported electoral violations of the law,” the release said.

The statement noted that the SLP embraced NEC’s position that they were “committed to conducting electoral activities according to law’’ but that where there have been deviation from that commitment, the police have worked closely with the leadership of the commission to investigate offenders.

Police said they had made a formal call on Wednesday, 21 March, requesting the Returning Officer to make available the Executive Secretary (ES) of the commission to help them in their investigation, which the NEC boss consented to.

“When contacted, the Executive Secretary asked the CID personnel to meet him at his office, which they readily did. After they have sat there for hours on end without getting the cooperation of the Executive Secretary, they had cause to leave. It came as a surprise, therefore, for a press statement to be released by NEC purporting that their premises had been unwarrantedly entered, and their staff obstructed,” the release said.

The release said the SLP have no intention to undermine the responsibility of NEC but “to add value and credibility to the electoral process by helping the commission to remove from within its ranks anyone suspected of involving in electoral malpractices.”

Superintendent Samura said the leadership of SLP has on several occasions met with NEC to chart the way forward and to engender better understanding.

“We remain committed to our avowed values of being impartial and to serve the people of our great nation with diligence and professionalism. We will, therefore, solicit the cooperation of all and sundry, including NEC, in that regard. The SLP have always and will always remain to support NEC positively in diverse areas of need,” he said.

Meanwhile, a source at NEC intimated Concord Times that the police have shown little or no interest in investigating some 1,500 cases of fraudulent voter registration since 2017 than they are showing now in alleged cases of irregularities during the March 7 elections in which the ruling party trails the main opposition party going into a crucial second round on March 27.