Cllr. Gongloe: “Sen. Johnson Intimidated Voters ahead of December 8 Elections”

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Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe

Unbelievably at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 29, Counselor Tiawan Gongloe, instead of addressing himself to his complaint of election irregularities and fraud for which he and a team of lawyers are representing his sister, Edith Gongloe-Weh, at the Supreme Court, he attacked Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba County, explaining the Senator’s war era record while serving as a battlefield commander of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), the breakaway warring faction that assassinated President Samuel Doe on September 9, 1990.

There was no comment or action taken by the five justices to stop Cllr Gongloe’s attack on Senator Johnson, who was at the hearing but not necessarily a party.

Cllr. Gongloe had earlier launched a similar attack on Senator Johnson and his candidate of choice in the December 8, 2020 senatorial election, Representative Jeremiah Koung, who had been declared winner in the election.

During his argument before the Supreme Court, Cllr. Gongloe openly said in the presence of Senator Johnson that the senator was in the habit of chopping off people’s ears while serving as a rebel leader. Though Cllr. Gongloe did not mention the name of those persons whose ears Senator Johnson chopped off, Senator Johnson, however, is on record for ordering the chopping off of the ears and private parts of late President Samuel Doe, who the INPFL commander captured at the Free Port of Monrovia in 1990.

“Everyone knows General Johnson’s history that he chopped off the ears of somebody,” Gongloe openly said, pointing at Senator Johnson.

Gongloe claimed that on the eve of the December 8, 2020 senatorial election in the county, some credible witnesses saw Senator Johnson dressed in a full military outfit with about 150 armed men threatening voters that if they did not cast their ballots for his candidate, they would feel the impact of their decision.

“When General Johnson arrived there, he threatened our people that if anyone did not vote for his candidate, he would chop them,” Gongloe said, quoting his eyewitnesses.

According to Gongloe, Johnson’s threat intimidated their agents and several other people to flee from the polling areas and did not return to cast their votes, which action Gongloe and team were demanding re-run and re-count in several polling places in the county.

When he took the stand to argue Cllr. Gongloe’s accusation against Senator Johnson, Cllr. Arthur Johnson [not a relative to the senator] pleaded with the court not to believe the assertion, describing it as “lacking evidence”.

Cllr. Johnson argued that Cllr. Gongloe’s statement against Senator Johnson was personal and political and, as such, it should not be a reason to deny the NEC pronouncement of Koung as the winner of the Special Senatorial Election in Nimba County. “There is no evidence that Senator Johnson went with armed men; this is a purely political and personal issue that is not supported by facts,” Cllr Johnson argued.

In her bill of information filed by several lawyers that include Counsellors Gloria Musu Scott, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Francis Johnson Allison, also former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and former chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Madam Weh argued that the hearing officer should declare the entire result of the special senatorial election held in the county invalid.

Also in their request, Madam Weh’s lawyers contended that there should be a re-run of the said election in order to uphold the integrity of the electoral process in Liberia.

Before the bill of information, Candidate Weh had already testified and explained about how several ballot boxes were tampered with, as evidenced by broken seals which, she believed, bring into question the authenticity of the results coming out of those ballot boxes.

Her testimony also accused two NEC Magistrates for Lower and Upper Nimba County, Bledoh Flomo and Milton Paye (respectively) of being behind the alleged fraudulent acts.

Weh further alleged in her initial complaint to the electoral body that, due to the gravity of the alleged fraud and irregularities, it was how Flomo and Paye were dispatched from Monrovia to the county.

She explained further that both magistrates Flomo and Paye were allegedly seen by a voter (name withheld) who is believed to have lived next door to the NEC’s office in Sanniquellie at 2 a.m.

Explaining the role played by Flomo and Paye, Weh claimed that they entered the warehouse where all the ballot papers were kept and allegedly began recounting the ballot papers without any notice to either her or her representatives.

She further explained that during the alleged secret opening of the ballot boxes and recounting of the ballots, one Rickson Quiah, who is a member of the campaign team of Jeremiah Koung was present.

Madam Gongloe-Weh also claimed that magistrates Flomo and Paye openly admitted in an interview conducted by a local journalist, identified as Melvin Suah, that they were in the warehouse counting the referendum ballot papers.

She claimed that magistrates Flomo and Paye informed journalist Suah that they were counting the ballot papers on grounds that the political parties as well as candidates have no interest in the referendum ballot papers counting.

According to her, there were no political party observers, neither were candidates’ representatives present during the unlawful counting of the Referendum ballot papers by the two magistrates, Flomo and Paye.

She also claimed that Paye, in an interview conducted with another journalist identified as Railey Guanbeh on a local radio station, Gompa Radio 106.5, openly admitted to cheating her during the mid-term Senatorial election.

Therefore, Madam Weh’s lawyers contended that the “Action of the two magistrates, Flomo and Paye, made the content of the ballot boxes and the ballot papers invalid and therefore need a recount. The only remedy that is now available for resolving the complaint is a re-run of the entire mid-term Senatorial Election.”

Madam Gongloe-Weh’s legal team further claimed that the authenticity of an election outcome is based on transparency, openness, fairness, neutrality and impartiality prior to, during and following the casting of ballots.

“And that same standard must be maintained during the hearing of a complaint about the authenticity of election results. Consequently, the actions of Flomo and Paye were wrong and require a strong penalty to serve as deterrence for such other election workers for engaging in such unlawful conduct,” Madam Weh’s legal team said.

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