By Abdulrahman Koroma
The High court of Sierra Leone, presided over by Justice Abdulrahman Mansaray, on Friday 12th January 2018 ordered the country’s election body to reregister two top contenders (APC and SLPP) for mayoral seat in Freetown.
Justice Mansary furthered that the ruling party candidate, Yvonne Aki Sawyerr and the main opposition candidate, Raymond De Souza George (Papa Ray) be transferred from their previous wards to their current wards of residence, and in addition called on the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to extend the date of nomination for mayoral candidates from 14th January to 20th January 2018.
Earlier, Drucil Taylor, lead counsel representing the National Electoral Commission stated that the application made by the plaintiffs is tantamount to asking the court to highjack the powers of the commission, and that that would effectively substitute the powers of the registration officer and transferring the said powers to the High Court of Sierra Leone.
He argued that the petitions made by the candidates were untimely and that their registration would be transferred, but it has to be done within the due process by the Public Elections Act of 2012.
“Election is a process, not an event,” he pointed out.
He maintained that an order has to be made to the registration officer and that the said position is vacant at the moment.
He stated that the election body operates within a timeline and if the plaintiffs are granted the permission to be reregistered, it would interfere with the election calendar.
He furthered that the commission has a timeline in which it provides or finalize lists of various contestants of elections for printing of ballot papers as well as finalizing the list of voters of every ward countrywide.
The 2012 elections act provides that: “where a voter who is registered in one ward becomes ordinarily resident in another ward, he may apply to the Registration Officer of the ward in which he currently resides for his name to be transferred to the Register of Voters for that ward.”