The Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Nfa Alie Conteh, has agreed with the motion moved against his institution in Parliament, humbly admitting, “We (NEC) have no intention of flouting the country’s constitution.”
The motion raised by Honorable Sualihu M Koroma representing Bo District and seconded by Hon Dixon Rogers from Pujehun District is that NEC failed to comply with Section 38 subsection 5 of Act No 6 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
Essentially that NEC should have tabled the new boundary de-limitation documents for constituencies and wards, and sought the approval of parliament before going ahead to use them in the voter registration process which is now on-going.
Parliamentary Minority Leader, Hon Dr Bernadette Lahai, explained the procedure that these Bills usually go through the Pre-Legislative meetings where amendments, comments and suggestions are made and then taken back to the respective institution for the necessary action before they are debated and become law.
Making reference to the July 2006 Boundary delimitation documents she said NEC did the necessary procedures and transferred them to the requisite Ministry, which should then transform it into a Bill and present it to Parliament for debate and then approval into an Act of Parliament.
The Boundary Delimitation documents for the 2007 voter’s registration were submitted to parliament 87 days before and it was enacted into law before the voter registration started.
She explained further, “for the local Government the document was laid on the 11th of March 2008 and passed into law on April 8th the same year and voters registration (started) on the 29th May which is about 50 days later.”
The Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs, PCMP Hon Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka II, reiterated that he did draw the attention of Members of Parliament and the Speaker to the timeliness of the Instruments when they were laid before the House with only four days before the start of the registration process.
He maintained before now his constituency was 65 and under the new proposal which is yet to be approved by Parliament he is in 75 “Where did NEC get the mandate to call that 75” he questioned?
In response the NEC Boss, Nfa Alie Conteh, said they respect the motion put before the house by the two Honorables and that NEC is also a public institution that is law abiding. He pointed out that the circumstances by then (2006, 2007, 2009 etc) are quite different considering the challenges.
He explained, they now have the situation of the Civil register versus the Voters register, stating that the initial plans was for them to have the Civil registration, from which they will extract the voters register which they were okay with. But with concerns from other sectors NEC decided to take the lead in the process.
He informed the House that the Boundary Delimitation has been completed since December 2016 and they had submitted everything to the Office of the Attorney General, disclosing they are honestly aware of section 38 sub-section 5 but again they work within the spirit of the law based on section 38 sub section 4.
The Leader of Parliament Hon Leonard F Fofanah stated what Parliament is doing it in good faith for the love of Sierra Leone and the Constitution, adding that Parliament should respect the country’s constitution.
Speaking on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General, the Deputy Justice Minister, Arrow John Bockarie, maintained, “as far as the Office of the Attorney General is concerned, the Instruments have been laid before Parliament” adding all instructions are left with Parliament.
“We are here in Parliament to comply with the Constitution. We pity you, we pity your challenges in the Commission but that should not allow us to abuse or bastardize the constitution” the Deputy Speaker, Hon Chernor M Bah, said, stating that ignorance of the law is no excuse.
He furthered that, as Parliament the Executive will not muzzle them to do something unconstitutional. He assured members of the public present that they will treat the document according to the laws of the land.