The reported trucking of voters in Bomi County has been fueled by accusation that Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe and former Speaker Alex J. Tyler are the ones allegedly involved in the trucking of voters in the county. The accusation was made by incumbent Senator Sando D. Johnson. Snowe, Tyler and Johnson are the three forerunners in the Bomi County Senatorial race. However, Snowe and Tyler have categorically rejected the claim by Senator Johnson. Prior to Senator Johnson’s accusation, both Snowe and Tyler camps traded accusation of trucking voters in the county in huge numbers.
Speaking in an interview with the Heritage recently, aspirant Johnson averred that the alleged act of the two senior citizens of Bomi is intended to give them undue advantage over other aspirants , including him, describing the alleged act as “illegal and totally unacceptable”. “Alex Tyler and Edwin Snowe are the two people I know are trucking people on a daily basis. They are the only two persons so far I know are involved in this act of voters trucking. I am not falsely accusing them; this is something that is serious; very clear. Just quote me, and I will provide the proof. They are using NTA buses and other vehicles to transport people to the county every day to come and register,” alleged aspirant Johnson.
He informed the Heritage that he has already filed an official complaint against Rep. Snowe and former Speaker Tyler with the NEC. However, when contacted, Rep. Snowe requested this paper to make direct contact with the head of his campaign team, who according to him, is clothed with the responsibility to speak for him. And when contacted, the Coordinator of Snowe’s Campaign Team 2020, Mr. Tarweh Johnson, denied claim that their camp was trucking people to Bomi for the VRU process, and other hand, maintained that it was only the Tyler’s camp involved in the undemocratic act.
However, Johnson admitted taking some residents at the VRU center for registration purpose, but said it was a mere gesture to assist some eligible voters who were stranded to get to the next VRU center because the initial place they were was overcrowded. “When we arrived at one of the centers, there were lots of registrants who insisted that we help them to the next center. They forcibly jumped on our vehicle and insisted that we take them to the next registration center because the other place was parked. It might have been what the people saw and photographed to say that we are also trucking voters. It was based on this that we decided not to go to the centers ourselves so that they can’t say we are trying to influence something or we are transporting voters. We have, therefore, assigned our observers there instead,” he stated.
He continued: “In fact, we took them from right at the gas station in Jene; it was not in hidden. So, the issue about us trucking people is not true. But it is visible on the side of Tyler. They are being escorted by the city mayor of Tubmanburg and those buses are being guarded by police officers. Even up to yesterday, there were buses and pickups bringing people to Bomi for Tyler. This is a violation of the law and NEC is not doing anything.” However, when the Tyler’s camp was contacted, they similarly denied the alleged act of voters’ trucking, stating that those going to Bomi for the process are citizens of the county who live in Monrovia and its environs.
Mr. Alfred Zinnah, Political Officer and Campaign Coordinator of Tyler, explained that accusation by Rep. Snowe is a clever attempt for he (Snowe) not to be noticed, accentuating that he is the main engineer of trucking of voters.
“I know some of our people are living in Brewerville and other areas who can come home to vote. During the war period most of our people migrated to the Brewerville end where they had a [display camp] and after the war, some of them decided to remain there. However, after the war they still feel that they have their relatives and others back home,” he narrated. “So, every major event they can participate that’s what I know. I know that people are ridding cars; some of them are in pickups, trucks, taxis and buses finding their way to Bomi and not by Honorable Tyler,” he furthered.
Zinnah asserted that the Bomi County Electoral District #2 Representative (Snowe) is making this allegation against the former Speaker because he is an ‘evil doer.’ “An evil doer is an evil thinker so as it is the case of Honorable Snowe. He knows that he can do and what he has been doing that’s why he’s thinking that way. We know what he did in 2017 to get elected – he huge hauling of people to win with that number. Nobody caused noise by then, but he’s making noise all around the place. That’s his own area,” Zinnah intoned.
“There are cars that have been escorted by cars from his camp; escorted by cars carrying the stickers of [late former Senator Lahai Lassanah. So, other people in the county are also accusing him too. As I said, an evil doer is an evil thinker. His political activities make him to believe that others are doing same,” the Tyler camp’s head fights back. Meanwhile, several citizens and residents of Bomi County have expressed serious frustration over the trucking of voters by politicians, saying it has the propensity of undermine the country’s democracy.
They called on the NEC to erect the necessary checkpoints so as to halt the undemocratic process by “greedy” politicians whose main interest is to get the numbers for election. Theophilus L. Dunbar, a motorcyclist in Tubmanburg, said he feels very discouraged over this unwarranted act of top politicians from the county greedily seeking power at the disadvantage of the impoverished citizens and residents. “This is making me to feel very discouraged, because it means that they don’t trust us in the county so they are bringing people all the way from Monrovia to vote for them. It means that they don’t respect us, as a people,” Theo voiced out.
“What hurts me more is that some of them are even bringing logos [street thugs] who are polluting our streets with [marijuana] smoke and harassing peaceful citizens and residents at night. I want to tell the government to stop the vehicles when they are coming here like in such a huge number,” he added. Mohammed Lagbani, another motorcyclist, also expressed serious disappointment over the increasing reports of voters trucking. “For me, this is disappointing, especially so when most of the citizens have not registered for the process. As I am looking at things, a lot of people in Bomi may not register at all because the queues are always long,” Mohammed observed.
Like Mohammed and others, a taxi driver explained how several buses and other vehicles leave Monrovia overnight on a daily basis transporting even “non-citizens” to Bomi. “Last night at about 8:00pm they had those buses parked and set for Bomi from Brewerville, because I live Plumkor in Brewerville. This was not the first time. They normally come at night, sleep start their process early and then transported back to Monrovia. This is a daily routine,” he asserted.
Miatta Boakai, a citizen of Bomi County, said this has totally killed her feelings for the entire process. “I don’t like to talk but I will speak to this one, because this thing is not good at all. Look at the number of our people who have not registered yet. This is very bad for our people,” she alarmed. Despite the mounting public outcries concerning the reported trucking of voters to Bomi, the head of the NEC in the county, Magistrate Luther Dean, said the Commission cannot stop voters trucking because it (Commission) has limited power to do so. Magistrate Dean asserted that the VRU is a national process with different stakeholders having some roles to play.
The NEC county head’s comment was in response to a petition presented to him by cross section of women under the banner of Rural Women-Bomi Chapter, calling on him to control the process. “I receive you petition in good fate, but NEC cannot stop voters trucking as this what your petition is calling for. A copy of this petition should be presented to the County Superintendent and the Ministry of Transport, because this is a national process, and they have the sole responsibility to prevent people from entering Bomi County and not the NEC,” Magistrate Dean noted.
However, the Rural Women, in a three-count petition, observed that the ongoing VRU exercise has been overcome by massive trucking of people to Bomi County to get registered. They pointed out that the act of trucking by some of these candidates has also turned the VRU to scenes of violence, as these imported registrants running after peaceful citizens with sticks and stones thus leading to the injury of several citizens. “Therefore, and in view of these facts, we, the Women of Tubmanburg, Bomi County, Republic of Liberia, in one voice have decided to ask your honorable office to do everything to solve this problem,” the petition read.
“In order to solve this problem, we recommend that there be at least one local town and a chairlady from the community to identify their citizens and residents of their area,” the women group, among other things, added in their petition.