For weeks prior to the August 11 Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone, the public and a cross section of the independent media have been raising eye brows at the composition of personnel engaged by the National Electoral Commission for the on going democratic process. The public including some quarters of the media have been very suspicious of the activities of some key NEC officials including the Executive Secretary, Mr. Hindowa Momoh; Commissioner East, Mr. Eddie Nyaley and the Logistics Officer, Mr. Mohammed Massaquoi who are though to have partisan interest as appear to be working in order to achieve the political objective of the ruling party. These suspicions were earlier downplayed by Dr. Christiana Thorpe as unsubstantiated and without proof to warrant any administrative action.
Without the faintest knowledge that some of these officials were orchestrating plans to render the operations of the National Electoral Commission less credible and satisfy their political godfathers who probably ensured they secured jobs at the commission, Madam Thorpe has started realizing that if she does not take a though line of action her hard earned credibility and good name will be dumped into the gutter.
Just few days back at the Lungi International Airport, the Logistics Officer, Mr. Mohammed Massaquoi was suspected by police officers attached to the Lungi International Airport in an attempt to allegedly conduct himself in an unprofessional manner and when interrogated, reports say, he almost transformed himself into “Mike Tyson” of Sierra Leone. Police sources say, prior to interrogating him, they had received intelligence reports that he was not supposed to be at the Airport at the time, despite the fact that he was the Logistics Officer as other staff of the NEC had already been assigned to the Airport to receive the sensitive electoral materials.
Mr. Massaquoi was allegedly seen in the company of some SLPP supporters who admitted to police that they are members of the party and had gone to the Airport to witness the arrival of the electoral materials.
As if not enough, police also identified two private vehicles owned by the supporters that were driven to the Airport by them together with the Logistics Officer.
Without wasting time, a report was sent to the Commissioner, Dr. Christiana Thorpe explaining the behaviour of Mr. Mohammed Massaquoi and how he went to the Airport with some members of the ruling party.
In addition to information already sent to the NEC office, the Logistics Officer who was very desperate to achieve his clandestine objective, was also seen at the warehouse where the materials were going to be when he was not supposed to be there.
To many outsiders and family relations who are conversant with the behaviour of Mr. Mohammed Massaquoi; it did not come as a surprise especially where he might have been promised financially or where he had already received something in lieu of taking the risk.
A family member explained to this press how the Logistics Officer was part of a money doubling syndicate that duped him thirty two million Leones (Le 32 Million) he invested into his illegal business.
“He lost both the principal and the expected profit” the source confirmed.
The matter is still pending at the Freetown Magistrate Court number 1A presided over by Magistrate Adrian Fischer and Mr. Massaquoi has ceased going to court for fear that he would fall victim of the law, according to court sources.
Following a letter of suspension from the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Ms Christiana Thorpe on the Logistics Officer’s misconduct, dated 3rd September, 2007 a letter of petition was written and signed by two commissioners and other senior members of the commission challenging the decision of the NEC boss. They demanded the reinstatement of the Logistics Officer prior to the September 8th Presidential Elections. The joint action of these individuals did not come as a surprise to both the public and some members of the commission who already know their objective for getting their colleague reinstated before the September 8th election.
According to NEC sources, Commissioner Nyaley and other members of the clique are disappointed and would want Mr. Mohammed Massaquoi to be reinstated immediately in order to realize their political dream “Why are they urging Dr. Thorpe to reverse her decision?” The NEC source questioned.
Some members of the public have described their action as a complete betrayal of administrative protocols as it aimed at destroying the reputation of the establishment and Dr. Christiana Thorpe.
“Their intention is to present the wrong picture of her” A 50-year-old civil servant at the ministry of Mines remarked.
In the case of the Commissioners who signed the document, their action, sources at the NEC state are well understood. It is not known whether or not the demand of the officials would be positively responded to by Dr. Thorpe. Meanwhile, commission sources say the matter is currently under investigation while Mr. Mohammed Massaquoi is still suspended.