The hearing officer of the National Elections Commission (NEC) has denied lawyers representing the expelled Unity Party (UP) stalwarts the petition to grant them the opportunity to be heard against the alleged illegal expulsion against them by their former political party.
Handing down his ruling into the motion over the weekend, the NEC chief hearing officer Cllr. Muana S. Ville said legal counsel for the expelled UP members could not get their sought-after remedy at the NEC on grounds that their clients did not exhaust all the remedies available at their former party. He noted further that one of their lawyers, Cllr. Mameitta Jabateh Sirleaf, does not have a license to practice law, even though she “is doing the wrong thing by pretending to be one fit as required by law to practice law in the country.”
It may be recalled that former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sen. Conmany Wesseh, and his wife Madam Medina Wesseh, as well as Patrick Worzie, all former executives of UP, were expelled by UP’s National Executive Committee for acts, including campaigning against their party which are said to be in contravention of their party’s constitution.
The lawsuit, filed by the International Law Group (ILG) on February 16, alleged among other things that the meeting which led to the expulsion of the former president and other executive members was secretly held at the residence of former Vice President Joseph 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, but claimed that only a majority of 32 present at the home of Boakai took the decision.
“The vote cast was far less than the two-thirds majority called for by the party’s constitution to constitute a quorum to effect any major decision, as enshrined in the by-laws and constitution,” the suit filed by ILG said and noted “Boakai must be held liable for the illegal expulsion and gross violation of the legal instruments of the party.”
The lead lawyer of UP, Cllr. Albert Sims, said the expelled executives do not stand any ground to convince any legal body that they are innocent of the accusations levied against them.
“We plead that you throw out their petition because it is unfounded and highly deceptive. It reveals nothing less than insincerity on their part towards the party that made them who they are today,” Sims argued.
He noted that the NEC did not have the jurisdiction over the matter because the suit did not clearly name the aggrieved persons except Patrick Worzie who later served as the acting secretary general after the resignation of Lenn Eugen Nagbe from that position.
The International Law Group’s Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi and his team of lawyers took an appeal to the NEC Board of Commissioners (BOC). Meanwhile, days before the ruling, the spokesperson of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mr. Jerolimek Piah, said Madam Sirleaf is not part of any lawsuit against former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai or the UP; therefore requested that her name should not be part of the case.
The BOC is expected to look into the appeal by Massaquoi and his team of lawyers.