“We Shall Live By The Law,” ECSL Boss Assured The Public.

By Moses Kay Fembeh

On Monday 19 September 2022, the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone held a successful engagement with journalists about the just concluded phase one of the registration process which started on 3rd September and ended on 17th September 2022, at the ECSL Headquarters Tower Hill, Freetown.

The ECSL Boss assured members of the fourth estate and the general public that they as an institution responsible for conducting free and fair elections nationwide shall make sure that they live by the dictates of the law and no political party shall dictate to them what they should do or not. Therefore, the general public must not doubt its credibility as an institution.

The ECSL Boss Mr Mohamed Konneh went on to attest to the fact that there were some challenges on the ground but he has been grateful to God for having competent commissioners, staff and stakeholders for their timely intervention and call to duty in the registration process which at the end yielded them an outstanding turn-up of 1, 345, 176 registered citizens across the country. 

“Notwithstanding, we had challenges during our training exercises and the August 10 protests would have been a threshold for the registration process to be postponed but we thank God that we maintained the stipulated startup date which was 3rd September 20222. We have been able to deploy our staff members to their various centres for the commencement of phase two of the registration process, from Tuesday 20th September to Tuesday 4th October 2022. 

However, Commissioner Konneh was very grateful for the presence of the fourth estate as they helped the general public by feeding them information and he hope that the right message will be sent out to the public. The Director of Operations, Mr Mohamed Briama Jah from the Police Headquarters, George Street was in attendance to update ECSL and the general public about their different arrests and cases gathered during the first phase of the voter registration process.  

Commissioner Konneh further updated the fourth estate and told them that the news making rounds on social media that the EU has given 10 million dollars to the commission is not true and it is a mere tale against their institution. He further commented on the provisional data registration that was collected in phase one Starting with Eastern Region 269110; Northern Region 241847; Southern Region 295759; and Western Area 350 452; making a total of 1, 345,176 registered persons.  

He applauded the Government of Sierra Leone as the materials provided were fully funded by the government of Sierra Leone and not foreign aid. 

Furthermore, he promised that 1815 centres will be opened on Tuesday 20th September 2022 for phase two.  

In addition, the Director of the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) Mr Massaquoi was also in attendance to offer a general knowledge on the different birth certificates issued to the general public and said that the staff at ECSL should be much focused and not accept any fake birthday certificate as he went on to make some clarification on the differences between a fake and a real birth certificate. 

Assistant Inspector General of Police Mohamed Briama Jah who doubled as the Director of Operations in the Sierra Leone Police updated members present about their different arrests done so far during phase one of the registration process. “We have records of some people that were arrested across the country. We have 9 cases, 16 suspects, 2 have been charged to court and one of the two is Mohamed Massaquoi alias Big Fish who was arrested for disorderly behavior at the St. Paul church on the 5th of September 2022. On the 9th of September, Kadiatu Toronka was arrested and charged for assaulting police officers at Kamayamacommunity Lumley. “In Freetown East, 36 individuals were arrested making voter registration cards for people, 25 were men and 11 were women. They are under our custody helping us with the investigation and 17 cases are under our watch”, A.I. G Mohamed Briama Jah said.

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Consequential Concern For Teachers and Pupils

By: Joseph K.B.Morison, (Heroes Media Reporter Bo City)

As the Government through the Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education (MBSSE) continues to support and supervise the country’s Free and Quality Education, on Monday 5th September 2022, schools were reopened across the country for the 2022/2023 academic year.

Mr Ibrahim Yahayah Fofana, the Bo District Deputy Director of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education (MBSSE), stated that, since schools reopened on September 5th 2022, the attendance of pupils in schools within the district has been very poor.  “Our teachers remain committed to giving their best in making sure that the government’s Free and Quality Education program continues but it’s like the reopening of schools in Sierra Leone is a traditional practice by our school going children together with their parents, that whenever schools reopen, the pupils give themselves additional one week to stay at home,” he said. He continued to say that, every academic year starts the very day schools reopen so he encourages parents to allow their children to be in school on the first day of the reopening of schools.

He said that since schools reopened he has been monitoring schools in and out of the city. “My very self and the free quality schools assurance officers have been monitoring schools within the district but it’s heart-rending to see our pupils being absent from school. The teachers are in the schools ready to teach but who would they teach, when there are no pupils in the classrooms?” he remarked.

In responding to the allegations that teachers with pin codes are involved in the voter registration process, MrIbrahim Yayah Fofana said that his teachers areinvolved in the registration exercise because the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone believes in the credibility of the teachers when it comes to the registration process. On the contrary, he condemned the involvement of teachers in the voter registration process. He said that even though it is a national service, leaving the school and children when the school is in session is a crime.

He reiterated that the ministry and the Anti-corruption Commission would not treat it easy with any teacher, especially those teachers on government pay vouchers who are not in their various schools to continue with their academic work. “Some school leaders had an agreement with their teachers allowing them to involve in the voter registration process, but my ministry will not treat it lightly with any head of school with such a barbaric act on their side” he said. 

The District officer has engaged all heads of school to report any teacher who is on government pay voucher who are supposed to be in school to teach the children but are engaged in the registration process. Going further, he said that 80% of their schools are being used by the electoral commission as registration centres. However, he said, that may not disturb the intensity of the academic sphere. 

He affirmed that the staff of ECSL in the various schools were called to a meeting. In the said meeting, they all agreed on the following resolutions: They should maintain quietness during school hours; no school furniture is to be used or removed from the classrooms by any ECSL staff or the community people and they should not allow any pupil who is in his/her school uniform at the registration centre.

On the part of the school supervisor, now quality assurance officers, he said the education directorate from the headquarters (HQ) called all sixteen (16) districts’ Deputy Director of Education to a seminar in Makeni, the northern part of Sierra Leone. Mr. Fofanaconfirmed that in that seminar they were told and agreed that, the school quality assurance officers will now move from their supervisory role which they have been doing to a new role which is a problem-solving role.

According to him, supervising role is a process wherein a school supervisor will go to a school under his jurisdiction to see that all school documents including schemes of work, lesson plans and notes are prepared by the school teachers, while a problem-solving role is an activity that a school supervisor or a school quality assurance officer will do whenever he or she visits a school. In this case, they will now sit with a teacher to check all his or her school’s document, and if they find out that, the documents are not accordingly prepared, the supervisor will not take the problem to their respective district office but will help solve the problem and teach the defaulted teacher how to do proper documentation of the school records.

Mr. Fofana concluded that this particular academic year, he and his school quality assurance officers are determined to see that Bo District which has been over the years performing poorly in all of the public exams do well this year.

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