Pro-Democracy Activist Lawyer in Sierra Leone, Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marah has responded to the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) to publish polling station election results of the June 24 General Elections.
“I’ve responded to ECSL’s reply to my earlier request for information on the district level results for the last multi-tier elections. I’ve requested further information on the basis of the published district level results,” Lawyer Marrah said.
He said that, he is not asking for the full data due to opposition influence but because the country’s democracy needs it most for it to survive and thrive and have a good reference for the future.
“I’m not asking for it because the opposition wants it; I am requesting the full data because our democracy and electoral system need it to survive and thrive. Those who have power might not appreciate this today—but certainly they will when ONE DAY they might be in desperate need of accountability and transparency. They need not look any further than the current opposition who are crying now (rightly or wrongly) for justice and transparency—both of which while they had the reins of power, they did not have or had in short supply and did not give or gave in small measure. The best way a political party can prepare for the inevitable future is to do RIGHT!!!” he noted
The letter sent to the ECSL dated 5th September 2023 addressed to the Executive Secretary of the Commission and copied to the commissioner, Right to Access Information reads;
I received your letter of 30th August 2023 in response to my request for information on district level certified results of presidential, parliamentary, and local council elections held on 24th June 2023. First, I must commend the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (“ECSL” or “the Commission”) for the tremendous work of planning, organising, and conducting a relatively peaceful multi-tier election on 24th June 2003. Second, let me state for the avoidance of doubt that my enquiry bordering on the results of the last elections published by the Commission is not intended to minimise its work or undermine its mandate but to promote sound electoral practices, enhance transparency in the Commission’s work and advance our democracy.
Your letter of 30th August 2023 on behalf of the Commission while it is a response to my request for information, unfortunately falls short of providing complete answers to my request for information regarding the how, where and when the district level certified and verified results were compiled. Further, as at the time I made the request on 31 July 2023 the compiled district level ‘signed results’ were not available on the Commission’s website and I observed that they were only uploaded on 29th August 2023, a day prior to your letter in response to mine.
Consequently, your Commission’s letter has prompted additional request for information. I therefore request pursuant to section 2(1) of the Right to Access Information Act 2013, the following information, and related copies of documents:
Whether the Commission has in its possession and custody Results and Reconciliation Forms for all 11,712 polling stations across all sixteen electoral districts which were the basis for its Presidential election results declared on 27th June 2023;
Whether the Commission has in its possession and custody Results and Reconciliation Forms for all polling stations across the sixteen electoral districts which were the basis for the Parliamentary and Local Council elections results declared or published on 1 July 2023;
Polling station data for all 11,712 elicited from certified and verified Results and Reconciliation Forms for each respective polling stations which inform the Commission’s published summary “certified results” for each of the sixteen districts in respect of the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local elections posted on the Commission’s website on 23rd and 29th August 2023.
Kindly be reminded that in the statement of 24th June 2023 (Statement from the Chief Electoral Commissioner. Chairperson and National Returning Officer of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone on the Presidential Election Results held on 24th June, 2023), the National Returning Officer and Chief Electoral Commissioner had in fact expressed the Commission’s commitment to publish the requested data: “Details of the results at polling stations on the ECSL website https://ec.gov.sl/” (page 1, bullet No.3)
I hope that the Commission would comply with my foregoing request without the need in this instance for a recourse to the Right to Access Information Commission.
Augustine S. Marrah Esq.”