The Ministry of National Defense says its attention has been drawn to the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) press release on 5, October 2017 on Electoral Integrity and Abuse of Incumbency and published in the New Dawn Newspaper on 6 October 2017.
In a statement issued October 19, 2017, the Armed Forces of Liberia High Command categorically refuted allegation against it neutrality by IREDD.
“The Armed Forces of Liberia remains politically neutral in all electoral processes in Liberia and its personnel have at no time been involved in the construction of campaign stages for any political party,” the Ministry said..
Based on the integrity of the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Chief of Staff, Major General Daniel D. Ziankahn Jr., mandated a team of investigators comprising of the AFL Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS), Legal Officer and the Provost Marshall Investigators (PMI) to look into the allegation. The team visited IREDD head office in Sinkor on 9 October 2017 to ascertain the facts and verified the authenticity of the allegation.
During the visit, the team met Mr. Harold M. Aidoo, Director of IREDD along with other senior members of the organization. The Director acknowledged that his organization failed to confirm the authenticity of the allegation from the leadership of the AFL before publishing it in the IREDD press release which was subsequently published in the New Dawn newspaper. In furtherance of the investigation, the team also visited Barnesville community on 11 October 2017, where they interviewed residents and petty traders around the Barnesville estate football field. The people confirmed that on September 13, 2017, they saw some men dressed in blue jeans, white T- shirt, black boots and jackets with EXSECON inscription at the back around the football field. They further informed the team that no AFL personnel were seen in the general vicinity of the football field during the entire campaign rally.
On 12 and 13 October 2017, supervisors of EXSECON, Mr. George Samukai and Mr. Prince Nimely were also interviewed. The team also established phone contacts with the supervisors of the musical and entertainment group called “DJX Production” who confirmed that they hired EXSECON to provide security coverage for the construction of the podium and their performance at the UP campaign rally at Barnesville Estate Football field on 13 September, 2017.
IREED gave the names and phone numbers of the witnesses to the team to buttress their claims on the publication; Mitchell Green, Kenedy Kolubah, Alex Slomo , John V. Farmah and McDonald Keh. When contacted by the team, only three responded. Mr. McDonald Keh confirmed that he is not a resident of Barnesville and his name is Isaac Wleh and not McDonald Keh. Mitchelle Keh and John V. Farmah were not reachable after several efforts. Alex Sumo confirmed that he did not see any person in AFL uniform on the field during the campaign rally.
The findings of the team’s report unveil that Madam Sackey, Project Manager of IREDD, is the brain behind the falsehood. She did not make any effort to confirm if the individuals providing security for the construction of the platform were AFL personnel even when the security personnel were there for 3 days from 11 – 13 September. IREDD also failed to describe the uniform worn by the security personnel.
Members of the Armed forces of Liberia were sensitized on the Code of Conduct for personnel during elections. AFL is a professional Army that supports and defends the constitution of the republic of Liberia. It is politically neutral and will remain a force for good.