The multiple court cases arising from three of the nine districts in the politically charged battleground of Nimba County suggest that the just ended October 10 legislative election is now arousing passions, anger and divisions in ways that will make healing difficult in the area.
The lawsuits, one of which was heard yesterday by the Supreme Court, challenges the National Elections Commission’s (NEC) conduct of the poll in Districts #4, 7 and 8, citing fraud, irregularities and malpractices.
The two other cases out of Districts #4 and 7 are currently before the NEC for determination, and are expected to reach the Supreme Court as well.
The 2017 election was unprecedented in the way it turned Liberians against each other, according to dozens of people who spoke with the Daily Observer at the Temple of Justice.
The court actions have divided families, like those in Districts #4, 7 and 8, broken up friendships and turned neighbor against neighbor.
In District #4, the incumbent, Garrison Yealu, indicated that he contested the October 10 representative elections on the ticket of the People’s Unification Party (PUP) and claimed to have won the election, but that the result was allegedly altered by the election magistrate, Princeton Monmia, in favor of his rival, Gunpee Kargon.
Rep. Yealu stated that on election day, Kargon allegedly campaigned openly in contravention of the election law and used his own machine to fix voter cards in which five persons were arrested by the police and investigated, but said the report has not been announced up to present. This is in addition to several other reported malpractices.
His rival, through his legal counsel, rejected Rep. Yealu’s complaint and called on the hearing officer to dismiss it because the allegation lacked proof.
In District #7, the incumbent, Worlea S. Dunah, backed off from the race, but after the election, there were a series of discrepancies reported, wherein two of the candidates, Evan Koah and Paul Tuazama, have reported candidate Roger Domah to the NEC for manipulating the process. Mr. Domah was pronounced winner of the district seat.
Candidate Evan Koah’s case is currently with the NEC and any outcome against him could also reach the Supreme Court for final determination.
For District #8, Saye Mianah of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) was earlier declared winner of the poll, but his happiness was short lived after the NEC Board of Commissioners (BOC) reversed that decision in favor of the incumbent, Larry Younquoi.
Younquoi’s contention was based on the discovery of alleged malpractice; he was able to successfully challenge the result at the level of the election body, which halted the announcement of the winner until there could be a recount as required by the election law.
The law states that whenever the winning margin between two contesting representative candidates is less than 50 votes there should be an automatic recount.
He stated that during the recount, he (Younquoi) was able to secure a win of 17 votes over his closest rival Saye Mianah, but Mianah protested the result stating that the NEC recount was illegal as the 2011 referendum calls for a simple majority – that the candidate with the highest votes is the winner.