The National Elections Watch (NEW) has accused two cabinet ministers in the Bio administration of perpetrating election violence.
The Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura and Deputy Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Amara Kallon, were accused alongside the defeated SLPP candidate in the just concluded Koinadugu District Council Chairperson election, Alhaji Sheku Koroma (also known as Chairman), of perpetrating election violence during the bye-election earlier this month. NEW, in a statement, explained that the Deputy Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Amara Kallon and the Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura, forcefully pushed people out of the polling station which resulted in chaos.
In a related scuffle, the marshals who accompanied the two ministers vandalized the left driving mirror of the car belonging to Minkailu Koroma of the opposition APC, which was packed around the polling centre. NEW is a consortium of civil society organizations and NGOs which monitors elections in the country.
It accused the SLPP candidate in the election, Alhaji Sheku Koroma, of entering the polling station accompanied by a Sierra Leone Police officer as a personal guard, wherein an argument ensued when the Polling Centre Manager (PCM) objected to the candidate’s presence in the centre where he wasn’t supposed to vote. The argument attracted a huge crowd of voters within the centre.
In the process, the SLPP candidate physically assaulted a disabled person deployed at the centre as a party agent for the APC, according to the NEW report. It added that the SLPP candidate also attacked, physically assaulted and wounded another party agent of the APC who was trying to have a photograph of the scene. A Chiefdom Police Officer who was indisposed to take any action manned this centre.
NEW reported that at Centre Code 6047, RC Primary School Kabala, whilst voting was going on, a green Honda CRV Jeep speedily drove into the polling precinct, thereby steering panic amongst voters in the queues. The police tried to stop the driver, but he forced his way into the centre, which triggered an angry reaction from voters who pelted stones on the vehicle and completely vandalized it. The police for obstructing the voting process arrested the driver in question. Voting stopped for over 1 hour.
According to NEW, at Centre Code 6115, RC Primary School Saint Balia, at around 3:30 to 4:00 pm, a group of unidentified youths on 8 motorbikes violently entered the polling precinct causing panic and forcing everyone to run for their lives, including NEC officials, voters and community people. There was complete desertion of the polling centre. In the ensuing pandemonium, the thugs burnt down the voting materials. NEW observers in Centre Code 6021, WSCL Primary School in Sakuta, also saw this same group of marauders. They parked outside the polling Centre and continuously accelerated their motorbikes consistently, thereby causing panic. The Polling Centre Manager (PCM) was terrified and raised concern about the insecurity of the centre and requested that he needed a security presence at the centre.