-Arthur C.Y. Duogee, Grand Gedeh National Elections Commission’s magistrate, denies allegations levied against him by 8 Senatorial candidates
Although the Board of Commissioners (BoC) of the National Elections Commission (NEC) is yet to give its ruling into the request filed by eight of the candidates contesting the Senate seat in Grand Gedeh County, for the county’s Elections Magistrate Arthur C. Y. Duogee to be replaced, Duogee has strongly condemned the candidates for what he describes as an assassination of his reputation by willfully spreading falsehood against him as the elections magistrate for the county.
It can be recalled that recently, eight individuals expected to be candidates for the December 8 Special Senatorial Election (SSE) in Grand Gedeh wrote the NEC expressing a vote of no-confidence in Duogee for, among other things, his alleged lack of independence.
The complainants alleged that Duogee is a partisan of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC); the lead political institution within the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
The eight signatories to the letter, declaring their vote of no confidence in Duogee, are Dr. George S. Boley, United People’s Party (UPP); Thomas Yayah Nimely, Liberia Restoration Party (LRP); William G. Nyanue, independent candidate; Felecia Flahn Doboyonnoh Duncan, Collaborating Political Parties (CPP); Zleh Williams, Rainbow Alliance; Cyrus S. Cooper, People’s Unification Party (PUP); Joseph W. Geebro, Movement for Progressive Change (MPC); and Beatrice Wonnah Johnson, independent candidate.
“Their resolution says a ‘vote of no confidence in me’ but it beats my imagination for someone who has not reposed confidence in me to say they now have a vote of no confidence in me.
“In fact, such action is not in our electoral process, mainly for politicians to say they don’t have confidence in a particular election officer or magistrate. That is not within their purview, but [that of] the Board of Commissioners of NEC who has that authority,” Arthur C. Y. Duogee told the Daily Observer over the weekend through a telephone interview.
Duogee said he is not a CDC magistrate and that the records of his work in Grand Gedeh and Margibi Counties over the years speak can exonerate him of all accusations of wrongdoing.
“Yes, it is true that I was one of the founding members of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), but I resigned from the party in 2008 when I was in search of a job with the National Elections Commission. I knew that I have to be independent of any political influence. That is why I published my letter of resignation in the Public Agenda Newspaper and that publication was submitted to the Board of Commissioners (BoC) of the NEC before I was even allowed to sit for the interview,” he said.
He said he started work with the NEC in 2009 and, since then, he has supervised four major elections, including the Legislative and Presidential elections in 2011 and 2017, as well as the Special Senatorial Election in 2014.
“When I began my work as elections magistrate, it was during the era of the Unity Party (UP), not CDC; and at all times I did not influence any election result in favor of anyone. The process is always transparent, mainly with all contestants having their own poll watchers at the polls.
“They follow the process, take records, and are aware of the outcome at every polling place. How then can anyone of a good mind and truth-telling tongue say that I, Arthur Duogee, has any criminal record in the administration of elections affairs? That is untrue and I remain committed to ding what is right,” Duogee said.
He added: “In Grand Gedeh, the current Superintendent, who is a CDCian, contested to become a Representative but he lost. In Margibi, when I was there, the current Minister of Education, Prof. Ansu Dao Sonii, who is a CDCian also participated to become a Senator but he lost.
The results presented by me to the headquarters of the NEC came directly from all of the polling centers, not from me.”
Duogee also noted that UP candidates also lost at polls and there has been no complaint against him at any time for any wrongdoing.
“Since I have been working with the NEC, there has been no complaint against me as a person. All of the complaints that have been filed were issues that are normal in our elections processes. Take, for a case, a complaint in Margibi when I was there. It involved the candidates on the tickets of the NPP and the CDC and that complaint at the time was about influencing the election.
“It was alleged that the former Speaker, Emmanuel Nuquay, was seen giving money to voters at the time to vote for Tonorlah. We heard the matter but it surfaced at the Board of NEC. Our ruling at the magistrate level was upheld even at the Supreme Court,” he boasted.
It can be recalled recently that nine senatorial candidates, who are contesting the upcoming December 8 midterm election in Grand Gedeh County, alleged that the county’s senior election magistrate, Arthur Duogee, is a rogue element who, since 2011, has supervised elections that have been characterized by fraud and contentions.
The complainant, who includes prominent Grand Gedeans such as Thomas Yaya Nimely and George Saigbe Boley, Sr., alleged that magistrate Duogee’s conduct during elections has led to distrust and results to be challenged at the level of the Supreme Court of Liberia, due to lots of irregularity.
“Duogee’s negative influence on the outcomes of elections in Grand Gedeh County is common knowledge [among the people]. A case in point is an audio recording of a conversation held between magistrate Duogee and one Aaron Togba,” the senatorial aspirants said. “In this conversation, held a few days to the date of the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, they were heard conspiring on how to manipulate the election results in favor of certain candidates in the county. Incidentally, the former, with whom the latter held the conversation of conspiracy, was at the time Chief of Office Staff to Representative Alex Grant, who himself was a candidate in said election.”
According to the aspirants, Duogee’s negative influence on the outcomes of elections in Grand Gedeh County is common knowledge in the county as it was evidence during the 2011 representative election in the county which was marred by fraud and massive irregularities.
“Furthermore, the 2014 midterm senatorial election held in Margibi County and supervised by Duogee was characterized by acrimony and allegations of fraud and manipulation while in Grand Gedeh County, the 2017 representative election also supervised by him in District # 2 was marred by fraud and allegations of vote-rigging,” they said.
However, Duogee has challenge the aspirants “to bring forward any precedent case in which I was complained, tried and found guilty of any wrong doing. Let them come out with such and the public will be the judge but threatening my life and bringing my hard earned reputation to public disrepute are unfortunate and grave.”
He accused Thomas Yayah Nimely and William Nyanue of being the main individuals behind the tarnishing of his reputation and attacks on his life and his family in Grand Gedeh.
“Thomas Nimely, as he is well known, led a revolution from our side. He was the leader for the rebel group, Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). At that time, there was no law and order except for jungle justice which was exercised by them. I believe he feels as other feel; winning elections is their birth right and at all cost they must be win, even if the results do not favor them. Now, we are a different era. The rule of law is in place and there is peace,” Duogee said.
He alleged that Willaim Nyanue could also be frustrated because he has contested for some other Legislative seats but lost all.
“He has been out of Liberia since the 1980s. He visits once in a while, mainly when there is an election and he has interest to contest. He thinks that money makes anyone to win an election, and as such, he relies on the use of money to do all he can during campaigns; but in the end, it is the voters who decide on who becomes their leaders, not me [or] him, William,” he said.
A month ago, the residence of Arthur Duogee was on fire in Zwedru and he accused Thomas Yayah Nimely and Willaim Nyanue of being behind the arson attack.
“As I have thought, so the truth is coming out. One of the four who went to my house in Zwedru and put it on fire has been arrested by the Police, processed and forwarded to court while we wait for the November term of court.
The other three are on the run, and all of them are from the camps of these politicians,” he alleged.
He said the Circuit Court in Grand Gedeh has issued an arrest warrant for the three suspects who are on the run and he hopes they are arrested and taken to Court during the November Term of Court.
“Threatening to chase me out of Grand Gedeh and using the social media, newspapers and radio staions to taint my reputation will do them no good because I am not running away and I remain obedient to the decision of the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission,” he concluded as he hung off the phone line.
NOTE: This story has been updated with additional information.