By Our Contributor
Lawyers representing the legal interest of the Collaborating Political Parties’ senatorial candidate, Edith Gongloe-Weh, are calling for recount of ballots for Electoral Districts #7, 4 and 5, and a rerun in Electoral Districts #1, and #2, in Nimba County.
But the defense counsel, led by Counselors Arthur Johnson and Cooper Krua, asked the hearing officer or fact-finder to deny the complainant’s legal memorandum on grounds that they did not adduce any “materiality and particularity” evidence as they claimed of alleged frauds and irregularities.
The defense team stated among many things that all of the documents they presented were never rebutted by the complainant as election results should not be about sentiments.
They went further to argue that a rerun can only come about when there is proof of widespread irregularities occurring with first-hand facts, not based on secondary evidence. “We presented records during the hearing which were all signed, confirmed and certified by the Edith Gongloe-Weh’s agents.”
However, the plaintiff believes that when recount and rerun are carried out, it would grant the complainant further relief that the fact-finder or hearing officer will find transparency, integrity and a peaceful solution in the case.
Those above were contained in the complainant’s legal memorandum as both the complainant and defendant rested final argument on Saturday, 13 February, at the National Elections Commission or NEC in Monrovia, as 1 hour was allotted to each side to summarize its argument.
Counselor Gloria Musu-Scott, one of the lead counsels for the complainant, read on behalf of Madam Gongloe-Weh’s team as Counselor Tiawan Saye Gongloe and others including Frances Johnson-Allison, Momolu Kandakai, Augustine Fayiah, Kuku Dorbor, Bobby Livingstone, Philip Y. Gongloe and others buttressed her.
Gongloe-Weh in her complaint dated Saturday, 12, and Wednesday, 16 December, 2020, respectively registered to the National Elections Commission through its Upper Nimba County Magistrate, Blehdoh Flomo, and the Board of Commissioners through its Chairman, Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, that there were alleged irregularities and suspected fraud during the electoral process.
The complaint pointed out concerns that there was exchange of the complainant’s vote count of 137 with 7 votes of candidates Garrison Yealue in the Airfield Zone 2, polling place 2, Sanniquellie City, Electoral District #2 by the data entry personnel; that 70 votes were for candidate Jeremiah Kpan Koung from Martha Tubman Campus polling place, Sanniquellie, Electoral District #2, instead of his 37 votes obtained at that polling place.
The complaint also alleges that 11 ballot boxes were found with broken seals, with the tally sheets inappropriately placed within the boxes.
The team then identified those precincts with the alleged irregularities as 33010, 33080, 33250, and 33069, where tees of the two polling places were reported missing and that of 33077 and 33079 precincts where two tees were also missing as well as that of 33179.
The complainant also wants a rerun in eight other precincts in Upper Nimba County in Electoral District #4, precinct 33010 at the Bihplay Public School of polling place 3; Electoral District #1, precinct 33080 at the Liberty Christian Institute of polling place 5; and Electoral District #1, precinct 33250 at Tongliwin Public School of polling place 4.
Others are Electoral District #1, precinct 33069 in the Ganta Public School of polling place 5; and Electoral District #1, precinct 33077 in the Vision International School of polling place 5.
Also, in Electoral District #1, precinct 33079 at the Gbatu Quarter Palavahut of polling place 6; Electoral District #1, precinct 33071 in the Small Ganta Palavahut of polling place 5; and Electoral District #1, precinct 33179 of the Wehplay Public School with polling place 4.
The lawyers strongly want a re-run as well in Electoral District #2, polling place 33052 in the Gbayee Public School, and Electoral District #2, polling place #33100 at Tiara Public School.
They believe that their client or candidate could not participate in the election held there since she had already filed a complaint which was being heard and not yet resolved.
Because of the evolving tension in Nimba County following the announcement of preliminary results at the time, the continued motion for change of venue was made by the complainant and same was granted by the hearing officer in the presence of the Upper Nimba County’s Magistrate, Blehdoh Flomo, and the hearing of the complaint was transferred to the Central Office of the National Elections Commission in Monrovia.
In their closing arguments, they called for physical recounts in places or precincts 33047, 33121, 33057, 33012, 33154, 33031, 33165, 33030, 33257, 33054, 33172, 33172, 33261 and 33209.
The legal team said the data entry clerk refused to allow the complainant’s agent to obtain a copy of the data entered or to simply display a copy for verification following the discoveries, which clearly indicates a calculated plan to commit fraud and deny her the votes cast in her favor by the people.
In view of these discoveries, the team said their client demanded in her complaint that the process of counting be stopped in order for her complaint to be addressed to restore her confidence in the process.
Additionally, the complainant’s legal team went further to state that their client’s agent in the tally room and campaign manager, Armstrong Gobac Selekpoh, wrote a complaint to the Board of Commissioners through its Chairperson, Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, reiterating what was in the complaint dated Sunday, 13 December, 2020.
It emphasized that there were 18 ballot boxes found with broken seal of Tally Tees and inappropriately placed within the boxes with only photocopies of the tees found.
During the hearings, the complainant paraded witnesses in support of her case; namely, Edith Gongloe-Weh, Augustine Fredrick (Expert Witness), Armstrong Goba Selekpoh, Winston W. Saye Kain and Prince Balaieh.
Others were Raily Guanbei (Journalist of the Voice of Gompa who interview defendant’s witness Milton Paye and Blehdoh Flomo), William Saye Menzoe, Jr., Cyrus Danquan, Jackson K. Geugbeh, William Miazoe, and Princeton Loffen.
These witnesses produced document and instruments testified to, identified, and confirmed were admitted into evidence during the hearing by the fact-finder.
While the defendant presented four witnesses namely Michael T. V. Dedeh, Edwin G. Gondon, Milton G. Paye, Charles T. Wonkeryor and Blehdoh Flomo.
They also presented 10 counts for the hearing officer’s determination as the final ruling is being reserved by hearing officer, Counselor Boakai P. Harris after Saturday’s final argument.