FRAUD AND MALPRACTICE AT BAR ASSOCIATION ELECTIONS?June 25, 2014
By Unissa Bangura
Over the last weekend this medium has being monitoring the Sierra Leone Bar Association annual conference held in the Northern Township of Makeni from the 20th to the 21st of June, 2014.
Apart from the pretentious speeches made at the brilliantly organized program which most practitioners referred to as the best ever in the recent history of the legal Association, the occasion was climaxed by the election of a new executive to run the affairs of the Association. Amusingly though, one may ask, wasn’t it only a few months ago that the Bar Association held elections at British Council in Freetown? Time has flown so quickly that within eleven months another election is conducted. How much can really be done in such a short time?
The elections come so often like any community social club and some quarters think this should be amended. A two- year- term might sound a very reasonable period.
The Sierra Leone Bar Association is actually a company; a company limited by guarantee and having its own Memorandum and Articles of Association. In this year’s election, amongst other positions contested for, the incumbent President, Elvis Kargbo Esq. Lawyer Ibrahim Sorie contested against the incumbent Presidency Elvis Kargbo’s who has managed the affairs of the Association for the past eleven months. Though, wasn’t the best, however it witnessed a lot of developments including bridging the evident gap between senior and junior practitioners as well as the rich and not so rich practitioners.
The incumbent President was so magnanimous that he personally sacrificed his time and money to sustain an Association that has creeping for funds.
On the day of the elections, senior practitioners and others who had never participated in Bar Association affairs in recent past stormed the Makeni Town and to be précised at the Wusum Conference Hall like manna from heaven with one motive, which was to unseat the working Elvis Kargbo who mostly had personal grudges against this benevolent leader.
Even this and the fact that the two candidates he defeated the year earlier had pitched tents was still not enough to unseat this popular President until an unprecedented event occurred. The issue of PROXY VOTES was introduced by a senior practitioner. Proxy votes refer to a situation where persons who are absent give authority to someone else to cast votes on their behalf.
The opposition camp took thirteen of such votes with them, the consequence of such was that after the counting of the votes, Elvis Kargbo lost with 111 votes and Ibrahim Sorie won with 116 votes, a difference of 5 votes. This clearly shows that by the count of the persons present, Elvis Kargbo won the elections.
With all this, what trapped the attention of this media was the seeming OVER VOTING and election malpractice.
Report reaching this medium states that when the Chief Electoral Commissioner Lawyer Garber, another senior practitioner who over the years had refused to participate in the Bar Associations affairs, announced the total number of eligible voters (including the proxy votes) as 197 voter. If we put together Elvis Kargbo’s votes and Ibrahim Sorie’s votes, they make a total of 227. The question is, where did the extra thirty (30) votes come from? This was the question that only the Chief Electoral Commissioner and his team can answer.
It may sound shameful and embarrassing and unexpected of Lawyers who the public view as gentle and forthright men. If such has started happening in elections of persons who are supposed to be the defenders of the Law, then we start to wonder what lies ahead for this nation. How would they hold the balance when such issues are raised in elections of a national character?