Kamara Tests Code of Conduct at Supreme Court

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The decision on whether several candidates who did not resign prior to the enforcement of the Code of Conduct (CoC) will contest the 2017 presidential and legislative elections now rests with the Supreme Court.

The court will make the determination on Monday, July 10.  On March 3 of this year, however, in a majority decision (3 for and 2 against) the Supreme Court pronounced the Code of Conduct legally binding and compliant with the Liberian Constitution.

The Supreme Court’s latest intervention is the result of a complaint filed by Abu Kamara, Assistant Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, and District#15 representative aspirant.

If the Supreme Court denies Kamara’s request, it means that the electoral commission will be given the power to disqualify several candidates for failing to comply with all the provisions of the CoC.

On the contrary, if it decides against, it will mean that the Supreme Court will at least relax its position on the CoC, which it had initially described as “constitutional.”

These are some of the legal issues that the five justices of the Supreme Court will be deciding on Monday, as part of their commitment to adequately address future election disputes.

In his complaint, Kamara argued that the National Elections Commission (NEC), without any legal basis and support consistent with the process, denied and rejected his application on grounds that he is prohibited from contesting public office by the Code of Conduct.

Section 5.9 of the code provides that “Any public official, after due process, who is found guilty of violating any provision of this section, should be immediately removed from the position or office held by him/her and thereafter no part of the funds appropriated by any law for such position or office should be used to pay compensation to such person.”

Kamara also argued that there was no due process accorded him for the NEC to disqualify his application to contest as a representative aspirant for Montserrado County District #15.

PART XV, Section 15.1 of the Code of Conduct on sanctions for infringement states: “Sanctions for any breach of this Code of Conduct shall be those prescribed by the Standing Orders of the Civil Service or any other laws governing the public service.”

Notwithstanding, depending on the gravity of the offense or misconduct, one or more of the following penalties may apply: dismissal; removal from office in the public interest; reprimand; fine or making good of the loss or damage of public property/assets; demotion (reduction in rank); seizure and forfeiture to the state of any property acquired from abuse of office; and interdiction/suspension from duty with half pay.

Kamara argued that those enumerated sanctions made no mention of exclusion from participating in the elections.

He claimed that the action and grounds used by the NEC to reject him were inconsistent with the laws and standing order.

“The ground for disqualifying me was vague and ambiguous on the face of the notice of rejection and that the notice also failed to state specifically the provision of the Code of Conduct for public officials that was alleged to be violated by me,” Kamara put his defense forward. “Therefore, the court should declare NEC’s decision unlawful as well as arbitrary and unconstitutional.”

Kamara said though he had not resigned two years prior to the 2017 elections, “it does not warrant disqualification to contest as a candidate in Section 15.1 of the CoC.”

Section 5.2 (a) of the Code of Conduct, states that “Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Directors General, Superintendents desiring to run must resign 2 years prior to the election; and section 5.2 (b) states that any other officials appointed by the president, holding a tenured position must resign 3 years prior to the election.”

Before Kamara’s disqualification, NEC chairman Jerome G. Korkoya said the NEC would strictly enforce the Code.

“What the NEC will be doing is to comply strictly with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Code of Conduct… whatever the Supreme Court says will be followed to the letter,” Cllr. Korkoya said.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

20 COMMENTS

  1. WE shall see if the Francis Korkpor Supreme Court shall bow to the selfish desires of lawbreakers and the whims and caprices of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Bad Governance Commission Amos Sawyer and overrule its own current Supreme Court’s precedence established just weeks ago when it voted 3 for and 2 against the constitutionality of this very provision of the Code of Conduct Law!

  2. Does “ex post facto law” exist in Liberia? People who were in position before the law was passed must not be affected. This ‘retrogressive law’ is NOT protected by the Constitution. Contest the application of the law, everybody.

  3. This law is both unconstitutional and unjust. Any law that restricts, subrogate or denied one group of citizens their inherent right, while at the same time affording that same right to another group of citizens, is unconstitutional and unjust. All citizens must protest and challenge this law until the legislature do the right thing and repeal it NOW, before the elections.
    A more appropriate and equal law for all citizens , would be one in which All have the right to contest elections, whether in government service or not.Those in government service must separate their official functions from their campaign.They should reimburse government from their campaign funds when any government property is used in their quest for elected office. WE CANNOT AND WE SHOULD NOT ENCOURAGE SEGREGATION IN ANY FORM. SEGREGATION TO ANY ONE GROUP OF LIBERIANS , IS SEGREGATION TO ALL LIBERIANS.I intent to ensure that is law is repeal and I ask ALL LIBERIANS to join me. Call your representative and demand REPEAL.

  4. As we awaits the Supreme Court ruling which might ignite a term of violence or continuity of sustainable peace on July 10, 2017; thereby providing the means for Liberians to understand the characters involved with our Justice System, we choose to serve as a reminder like many others that March 3rd of this same year 3 justices voted constitutional and 2 unconstitutional the Code of Conduct…
    “The question is who amongst the 3 justices will denied and defend the CoC as unconstitutional”?? The characters and oath of legal practitioners are at stick. Let law take it course….
    “Let Justice be done to all”

    • Anderson Jr. Why you think that there will be Violence if the Law of the LAND is up head. Do you actually want Liberians not to obey the LAW of Liberia? I taught people like you will want for the country to establish some kind of rules. We Liberians always talk about violence as if to say that is the only way we believe we can solve problems in Liberia. Peace will remains in Liberia no matter how you pray to get your point through violence.

      • So even people in the USA write this kind of English?
        The law will be upheld not up head.
        Peace will remain not will remains

  5. “Bad laws are hard to enforce, while good laws are easy to enforce.” And secondly, “laws are descriptive or prescriptive”. Something to think about in the national interest.

  6. Justice was done to all when the very Francis Korkpor BENCH ruled via IMPLICIT AND EXPLICIT PRONOUNCEMENT AND JUDGEMENT(hereunderin quotation) that section 15.2 in the Code of Conduct Act IS CONSTITUTIONAL AND HAS NO LIGAMENTS TO EXPOST FACTO LAWS, BUT INDEED A LAW ON THE eligibility requirements, VIZ elections!

    Besides prohibition OR unconstitutionality of ex post facto laws applies to criminal offenses,which is NOT THE CASE WITH THE COC IN GENERAL OR section 15.2 in the Code of Conduct IN PARTICULAR!!!!!!!!!!!

    “A scrupulous review of the Liberian Constitution leaves no shred of uncertainty that the geniuses of the constitution intended to and clearly granted extraordinary powers to the legislature to make laws and regulating matters of public governance including elections and referenda. These include the authority to set eligibility requirements for candidates as the legislature may deem compelling to further overriding state interest and to enhance public policy probity. Under the circumstance, to propose as the petitioner has done, that the legislature is prohibited from conscripting new and additional eligibility requirements for candidates vying for public offices, or that the legislature, by the inclusion of section 15.2 in the Code of Conduct Act, amended the Constitution, is absurd. In the light of the broad authority and powers our forbearers and the crafters of the Constitution have rested in the legislature, such contention must be rejected.”

    So if this sameand very benchgoes back on its word and bend backwards to the whims and caprices of lawbreakers such as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,Amos Sawyer, Abu Kamara, Alex Cummings,Harrison Karnwea, Mills Jones etc. etc. then the Supreme Court has simply proven itself to be A KANGAROO SUPREME COURT! NO BENCH OVERRULES ITS OWN PRECEDENCE/PRESEDENT ESTABLISHED IN JUST FEW WEEKS!!!

  7. We will wait and see what the Supreme Court will rule on the issue at hand though I think this should handle by the office of the Ombudsmen.
    The constitutionality of the CoC is clear as stated by the Supreme Court and as such should be honored and respected fully.

  8. As Mr. Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah astutely anticipates, our august Supreme Court goes where the Ellen winds blow: follow her orders to a T!

  9. Mr. Kandajaba Z. Zoedjallah, the marriage of the Supreme Court
    Francis Korkpor and the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Executive Mansion
    is so strong that the Judiciary and the Executive are no longer in
    separation system of the Constitution of Liberia. It is also a shameful
    calling the Code of Conduct a Constitutional. Shameful because that
    Code did not go through national Referendum to become Constitutional.
    So my brother, no matter whatever case is before the Supreme Court
    that has link to the Code of Conduct is a done deal for the Court. That
    is the problem Liberia has had from the past and continues today.

  10. Mr. Zoedjallah and et, your argument with regards to the constitutionality of this law is spurious and disingenuous. It only conforms to a narrow interpretation of the constitution ,in that it provides the legislature the mechanism of making laws. It is disingenuous in that , ALL LAWS CRAFTED BY THE LEGISLATURE ARE NOT DEEM CONSTITUIONAL if they do not conform to the tenants of the constitution. The genius of the constitution is vivid in that only LAWS THAT PROVIDE EQUAL PROTECTION TO ALL CITIZENS are CONSTITUTIONAL.THE supreme court is the body that has the prerogative to clarify an act/rule/order or constitutionality of laws. Yes , there are times when a good jurist will see the light of day and reverse him/her selves on a ruling that tends to discriminate against one group of people for the benefit of another. For the life of me, I cannot seem to comprehend how you well learned gentlemen can see a law that is so glaringly wrong ,and support it for whatever reasons you may have. A Bad law is a Bad law. it is a wicked law.The so purpose is to discriminate against one group of people-the appointed civil servant and reward another group-the elected. where is the justice for all. in this law.

  11. Ernest, you have mis-informed others concerning my previous comment; I am no way in support of the bridge of the Supreme laws of our country, I support the Code of Conduct for it is a Law which passed through due process and is consider constitutional…. My statement was ” the incoming ruling of the Supreme Court might cause crisis or maintain peace in our country”… I still maintain that the Justice system should be straight…
    Let Justice hold those lawbreakers…
    I support the Laws of our country..

  12. Mr. E. Tyson Lewis,

    The Equal Protection Clause could be invoked in this matter if The Law targetted or targets people based on such as sex/gender, ethnicity, religion, complexion, other physical traits, economic status or political ideology, or the appointed public officials or civil servants did not enjoy the equal protection of the law viz their freedom of choice to voluntarily and unilaterally decide to become a candidate or decide not to be a candidate.
    ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS ARE A VERY COMMON PHENOMENA! THEY ARE ENSHRINED THROUGHOUT THE LIBERIAN CONSTITUTION!

  13. The silent majority will not allow any violence in this nation. The decision of the Supreme Court is scripted cannot hide from the Liberian people’s code. If a complaint flexes the law, this has no binding impetus on the precedence set forth by the constitution. The Highest Court of this land seeks the truth as the basic function to its interpretation exclusively from execution or compilation legislation of this land; a big functional divide if not a wall between them branches of Government. So no matter how, no physical crisis exist. Thus, NEC has no alternative but to accept the Supreme jurisprudence, when given. Either fry okra or boil chicken, the fufu is standing by.
    I am not in your politics. Gone in silence. Tell the voters. I need no answer.

  14. P. Allison Tarlue, Sr. July 6, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Mr. Kandajaba Z. Zoedjallah, the marriage of the Supreme Court
    Francis Korkpor and the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Executive Mansion
    is so strong that the Judiciary and the Executive are no longer in
    separation system of the Constitution of Liberia. It is also a shameful
    calling the Code of Conduct a Constitutional. Shameful because that
    Code did not go through national Referendum to become Constitutional.
    So my brother, no matter whatever case is before the Supreme Court
    that has link to the Code of Conduct is a done deal for the Court. That
    is the problem Liberia has had from the past and continues today;
    Judiciary’s so dependence on the Executive. Can’t you see Associate
    Justice Cllr. Philip A.Z. ruling in the case Dr. Tipoteh and his Party
    clear cut and presentation of evidences to the Supreme Court and, yet
    the Court ruled against them?

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