The APC leader Samura Kamara in a viral press statement, has conceded defeat to the incumbent president Julius Maada Bio.
The statement, which is on the supposed letterhead of the APC, reads in part, “Let me use this opportunity to congratulate Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) on winning the elections on Saturday, June 24, 2023, despite the many concerns my party, the All People’s Congress Party have about the conduct.” The viral statement had the signature of the APC National Secretary Lansana Dumbuya.
DUBAWA contacted the All People’s Congress (APC) party spokesperson, Sidi Yaya Tunis, to confirm if the statement emanated from the APC.
In a quick retort, he told DUBAWA the letter’s content is “fake.”
A press statement has gone viral on social media, supposedly coming from the National Election Watch (NEW), a renowned Civil Society Organization (CSO) in Sierra Leone. Part of the statement’s content reads “Re: Affirming Commitment to Regime Change Arrangement and Questioning ECSL Credibility”.
DUBAWA contacted the organisation’s chairperson via telephone to comment on the alleged press statement, which carries the organisation’s letterhead, signed and stamped by the chairperson.
Madam Marcella Samba-Sesay, Chairperson for NEW, told DUBAWA the viral statement is “fake.”
A viral tweet by “We Yone Newspaper” alleges that the Headquarters of the main opposition party — All People’s Congress (APC), has been attacked by armed military men who fired multiple tear gas and ammunition into the party’s office.
DUBAWA visited the APC headquarters at Old Railway Line, Brookfields, Freetown, at around 18:00 GMT to verify the tweet made by the referenced online newspaper. The researcher saw a swirl of smoke billowing from the APC office. Also, eye-witnesses at the scene, including a journalist who had gone to the APC office to cover a press conference convened by the party’s Executive members, told DUBAWA that the security forces fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of over-enthusiastic supporters of the APC who had assembled at the party office. The supporters were jubilating over what they believed to be an election victory by their leader, Dr Samura Kamara.
The journalist further told DUBAWA whilst they were in the office, they heard the sound of gunshots fired from outside but could not know if they were live ammunition.
DUBAWA also observed a Facebook live by the former Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, which captured parts of the incident at the APC office, as seen here and here. The videos were captioned “Tear gas fired into APC party office.”
VERDICT: Partly True. This is because it is confirmed that tear gas canisters were fired into the building of the main opposition party – APC. Although gunshot sounds were heard, DUBAWA cannot confirm whether live ammunition was fired.
A supposed front page of a popular newspaper in Sierra Leone, AYV Newspaper, has gone viral with a banner headline “Inter-Religious Council congratulates President-Elect Dr. Samura M Kamara.” The headline story is part of the June 26 edition of the Africa Young Voices Newspaper (AYV-News).
DUBAWA’s check on the viral content shows that the viral front page newspaper had been doctored, as seen in the newspaper’s original copy below.
Also, the Head of Programs at the Africa Young Voices Media Empire – Mr Samuel Wise-Bangura, in the AYV’s popular Good Morning Salone show on Monday, 26 June 2023, vehemently dissociated their institution from the doctored newspaper.
Additionally, the management of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL) has on Monday, June 26, 2023, equally published a statement signed and stamped by the Council’s Secretary General and President, Rev. Dr. Usman Jesse Fornah and Most Rev. Dr. Edward Tamba Charles, respectively, dissociating the Council from the purported front page story.
A Facebook page Makoni Times posted a picture claiming that the APC Chairman in Kailahun was shot dead. A screenshot of the post showed a bloody body lying under a mango tree. The post has since gone viral on another platform, WhatsApp.
DUBAWA called the APC District Chairman in Kailahun, Ensa Jajua, to verify this claim. He stated, “I was almost killed, I was attacked, and they almost killed me, but I am ok. However, two of my MPs were seriously beaten and received medical care; Wilfred Barnett and Tamba Alice Lahai.”
DUBAWA also subjected the picture to a Google reverse image search but found no similar photos online.
An unsigned and unstamped press statement has recently gone viral, supposedly authored by the main opposition party leader – Dr Samura Kamara. The letter in part states: “THE APC PARTY IS ON A FIRM PATH TO AN IRREVERSIBLE VICTORY. WE WILL, THEREFORE, NOT ACCEPT ANY SKEWED RESULTS.”
DUBAWA, in a conversation with the National Publicity Secretary of the party – Sidi Yayah Tunis, confirmed that the statement emanated from the APC office. He added, “Our party is certain we will have an overwhelming victory in the polls.”
FINDING: While the claim did not categorically impugn wrongdoing on the part of the ECSL staff, there is a subtle suggestion that allowing people without Voter IDs or accreditation to voting was illegal. DUBAWA, therefore, sought to discover the conditions under which voters can vote even without accreditations or Voter IDs.
Several education campaigns of ECSL pointed to the fact that individuals without tangible voter ID cards would be allowed to vote if said person’s name given can be located in the ECSL voter logs. Additionally, the person has to answer two security questions: “What are your mother and father’s full names?” If such security questions are answered correctly, and the face of the said individual matches the one on the ECSL’s logs, then that person would be allowed to vote without any tangible voter ID. A call to ECSL’s Director of Media and Communication, George Jones, confirmed that the above procedure was followed by ECSL officials in New England, and many other centres operated as such.
An image containing alleged results of the Sierra Leone election 2023 has gone viral on social media, with a Twitter user congratulating the All Peoples Congress Presidential candidate, Dr Samura Kamara, for winning the elections. The viral results contained election figures from Kenema, Kambia, and Karene districts.
DUBAWA checked ECSL’s website to verify the photo and claim, showing that all the results were from 2018.
Wayback Machine also shows that the 2018 electoral commission results are an exact copy of what is being shared currently.
VERDICT: FALSE; the viral photo is not the 2023 election result. It is the 2018 runoff results.
A voice note has been shared multiple times on social media in which the Deputy Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mohamed Pope Kamara, is heard saying that 80% of the polling centres did not start polling at 7 am. According to him, that was part of the strategy by the ECSL and the incumbent SLPP to frustrate voters from their strongholds.
DUBAWA has spoken to Kamara, and he confirmed that he indeed shared the voice note.
Per Section 71 (1) of the Public Elections Act, 2022, “The hours of voting shall be from 7 am to 5 pm or such later time as the Electoral Commission may allow.”
Whilst Kamara did not reference any source for his estimation of the number of polling centres that opened late, DUBAWA fact-checked a number of polling stations in which voting had not started hours after the official voting time had ended.
In addition, DUBAWA went through the latest update of the National Elections Watch (NEW), an independent observer network and found that in 84% of the polls where they observed the elections, polling centres opened at 8:00 am, one hour or more, than the expected voting time.
These fact-checks are jointly produced by Mohamed Jaward Nyallay, Julian Koroma, Fayia Junior Moseray, Lois Ugbede, Praise Cole, Ousmane Wessou Cissé, Ibrahim Joenal Sesay, Lateef Sanni, Maxine Danso, Edna Egegba, and Elizabeth Ogunbamowo. It’s edited and approved by Nathan Gadugah and Simbiat Bakare.