In BVR: Rep. Kogar Admits to Transporting Voters to Register in His District Amid Accusation of Voter Trucking
MONROVIA – Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel Kogar has admitted to transporting electorates who he said hailed from his constituents but do not have any means of going home to obtain their biometric voter registration cards.
Rep. Kogar made the revelation to K-news when a group under the banner ‘Buu-Yao Concerned Citizens Movement’ accused him of offering US$50 to each individual to be trucked to his district to register.
The group through its chairperson, Alex Gbah accused Rep. Korga of trucking over 700 people from Bong, Montserrado, and Margibi, as well as other parts of Nimba County. Gban warned that Rep. Kogar’s alleged action could be a recipe for chaos.
“As we speak, he has recruited about 700 people in Margibi which soon and very soon will be leaving to go in our district. We cannot guarantee their safety”, Gban said.
In an exclusive interview with K-news, Gban said it was a shame that the incumbent lawmaker, who has spent consecutive 12 years as a lawmaker, will rely on trucking people to boost his chances of being re-elected. He noted that the lawmaker’s alleged action is a clear manifestation that he has failed his people.
He used the occasion to call on the National Elections Commission to investigate him and if found guilty, should punish him in line with the elections law.
When contacted by k-news for response, Rep. Kogar refuted the report of trucking people to his district but said he is only providing transportation to dozens of people he said hailed from his constituent. He revealed that his home in Monrovia is overcrowded with his people that seeking assistance to be transported.
“I have the right under the law as a lawmaker to go anywhere I want to go. If my citizens want to go back to register in the district, as their lawmaker, I can help them to go and register even if they are residing in Monrovia,” Rep. Kogar said.
“Even now as I speak to you, my yard is packed with people and I am transporting them because they are my citizens and they do not have the means. So, if there is anything I can do to help them I will do it.”
Though Rep. Kogar argued that he was not wrong, his action has been condemned by a segment of the public.
In Liberia, voter-trucking or vote-buying is prohibited, but the government is weak in implementing the law. The practice, observers say, undermines democracy and there was an urgent need to stop it by levying hefty fines against would-be violators.
Chapter 10, caption ‘Election Offenses’ of the Electoral Reform Law of Liberia
Some provisions speak to this menace, especially Section 10.2 relating to Offenses concerning Registration Cards, states that “Any person who does any of the following acts shall be guilty of an election offense and punishable by a fine or sixty (60) days imprisonment or both: (a) Printing or distributing any registration card; (b) Altering any registration card; (c) Using or attempting to use at any election, a registration card issued to another voter. Section 10.4 sub-title ‘Bribery’ says; For this title, bribery as an election offense is where any of the following acts is committed: (a) Offering or cause to be offered money or anything of value or benefit or promise to give anything of value with intent to induce or influence any person; election officer; poll worker in connection with an election which in so doing will tend to affect the true election results.”
It continued: “Any election officer, political party, or any candidate or the agent of any candidate or any person who does any of these acts is guilty of an election offense and is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for not more than five (5) years or both. In addition to the foregoing penalty, anyone guilty of bribery as an election offense shall be disqualified from holding any elective public office in the Republic of Liberia or from voting in any elections held under this law for seven years.”
Rep. Kogar’s admittance comes as the NEC launched phase two of the biometric voter registration exercise today in the remaining nine counties including Nimba.