Just a day to the ruling by Cllr. Muana S. Ville, dispute officer of the National Elections Commission (NEC), on whether or not he should proceed with hearings into the expulsion of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other executives from the former ruling Unity Party (UP), the former President has backed out of the lawsuit.
Ellen’s decision to distance herself from the entire complaint filed before the electoral body was contained in a statement of clarification on Wednesday, February 21 by the former president’s press secretary, Jerolinmek M. Piah, when he appeared on the state-run radio station ELBC informing the public that Madam Sirleaf has withdrawn any interest of pursuing the matter any further.
Piah denied reports that UP standard bearer emeritus has filed a lawsuit against the party or its standard bearer Joseph Nyuma Boakai.
According to Piah, Madam Sirleaf has dissociated herself from reports linking her to a lawsuit against Mr. Boakai and/or the UP, adding that the former President is not a part of the process, and that she is not (at this time) intending to file any lawsuit.
“Others who were expelled by the UP are the ones who have filed the lawsuit against the party and not the former president,” Piah maintained.
Meanwhile, the Daily Observer has reliably learnt that no request for withdrawal of the case in question has been filed at the NEC.
It may be recalled that Madam Sirleaf and other party executives, including Senator Conmany Wesseh of River Gee County and his wife Medina Wesseh as well as Patrick Worzie, were expelled on January 18 for allegedly violating the party’s constitution, because the former president was allegedly supporting opposition party members during the runoff election.
Also, the UP claimed the behavior of the expelled persons…”constituted sabotage and undermined the existence of the party,” in the statement announcing the decision, which was taken by the party’s executive committee.
In his reaction to the expulsions at the time, Piah declared that the party’s rules were crystal clear on the requirement for expulsion, noting that such requirements were not fully exhausted.
He said President Sirleaf had heard of the action against her by the party, but was then focused on the conclusion of her transition.
Piah said the pronounced action by the UP did not deserve or require any official reaction, adding, “When she leaves the presidency, the party matter will be handled in conformity with the party’s way.”
But, Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi, chief of litigation at the International Law Group (ILG), who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the former President and the former UP standard bearer against Boakai, alleged that her expulsion orchestrated by Boakai was in violation of UP’s constitution and the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
The International Law Group (ILG) firm is jointly owned by Mrs. Wesseh and Representative Fonati Koffa of Grand Kru County.
The ILG suit also alleged that the meeting which led to the expulsion of the former president and other party executive members was secretly held at the residence of Mr. Boakai with 31 executive members in attendance, but only 17 voted to effect said ‘prejudicial and illegal action.’
They argued that the party’s constitution provides that the National Executive Committee shall require at least 42 votes in favor to acquire the two-thirds majority of the 65 members at the time of the decision; unfortunately only a majority of 32 were at the residence of Boakai that took the expulsion action.
But when the case was first heard on Wednesday, February 21 by the NEC’s dispute officer, the party’s lead lawyer, Albert Sims, argued that Patrick Worzie was the only person whose name appeared on the suit filed to the NEC.
However, Sim’s argument was strongly resisted by Cllr. Massaquoi, who insisted that the former president was aware of the complaint filed against Mr. Boakai.
According to Cllr. Sims, the available legal option was for the expelled executives to have sought reconsideration or review of their expulsion through a quorum of UP executive committee members instead of the legal recourse.
It can be recalled that on Thursday, January 14, a group of individuals described as “thugs” converged on the UP Congo Town headquarters to stage a protest against the expulsion of the former president and some party members, but were resisted by security guards.