Region Four Presiding Officer John admitted lying under oath

by George Barclay
Guyana Chronicle
October 4, 1999

REGION Four (Demerara/Mahaica) Presiding Officer Allison John attached to Grove Primary School at the 1997 General and Regional elections admitted to the Court that she lied under oath.

John, a witness for the number one Respondent, Chief Elections Officer, Mr Stanley Singh, made the admission last week while testifying at the hearing of the Esther Perreira Elections Petition.

It came after she was pulled up by trial judge Ms Claudette Singh for giving two different versions about the signing of Statements of Poll prepared by her.

During her testimony, John, after looking at a Statement of Poll, an exhibit of the Court on which her name was recorded and scratched out, told the Court, "This is my signature, I had crossed it out."

Later in her testimony, witness denied handing in any unsigned Statements of Poll to the Elections Commission on Polling Night and attested that she had lied earlier when she said that the unsigned SOP in Court was prepared by her and that she had scratched out her signature after placing same on the document.

John told the Court that all the Statements of Poll which she had handed in to the Deputy Returning Officer after the count, were signed by her.

John is among a number of Presiding Officers for Region Four who are said to have fallen down on their duties on Elections night by their failure to sign their Statements of Poll in keeping with instructions and a requirement by the Elections Commission.

That allegation was made against them in evidence by Region Four Returning Office, Henry Europe.

All those who have so far testified, have denied the charge and are alleging that the Returning Officer had given the Court incorrect information.

John was one of three Presiding Officers who testified on Friday.

Led in her evidence-in-chief by Miss J. Munroe, she recalled that she had applied for a job with the Elections Commission (in the run-up to) the 1997 General elections.

Following training and a successful examination, she was appointed a Presiding Officer.

According to John, she carried out her polling duties effectively on Polling Day and would have recorded in her Poll Book any incident that might have occurred.

She testified that polling agents from the PPP/C, the PNC and the AGGG were present throughout the day and at the count.

Following the count, John said, she allocated the votes to the parties concerned. No one challenged the accuracy of the results, she told the Court.

From the results, John said, she prepared Statements of Poll, signed same and handed them over to the Deputy Returning Officer.

Cross-examined by Mr Peter Britton, S.C. Counsel for the petitioner, witness said that on Polling Day she had permitted two persons to vote whose names were not on the list.

According to her, the persons did not have Voter Identification cards, but they had Voter Identification slips.

She added, "I permitted them to vote after consultation with a senior official of the Elections Commission."

In answer to a further question from Britton, witness said, "I see an exhibit in Court which disclosed that I am among Presiding Officers who had forgotten or neglected to sign the Statements of Poll on elections day."

Asked what she thought about the statement, witness replied, "That statement is not true. I did sign all my Statements of Poll."

Other Presiding Officers who testified on Friday were Parbattie Thomas and Jacqueline Hamilton.

They too denied the charge that they had failed to sign the Statements of Poll prepared by them.

In this case, Perreira an elector of Lot 75 South Sophia, Greater Georgetown, is challenging the validity of the 1997 elections on the ground that the process was so flawed the outcome cannot be said to accurately reflect the will of the electorate.

She wants Justice Claudette Singh to invalidate the results and has cited President Janet Jagan of the People's Progressive Party/Civic governing alliance and PNC Leader Desmond Hoyte among the List Representatives of contesting political parties.

But, all the politicians named, except Hamilton Green of a Good and Green Guyana (AGGG), have pledged to abide by the ruling in the case which continues today.

So far, 64 witnesses have testified at the hearing.

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