-As Cllr. Arthur Johnson, colleagues set to run to court for NEC’s refusal to pay a Liberian election materials vendor.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) may have the “Consortium of Legal Practitioners” (CLP) to contend with should it fail to settle M-Tosh Print Media for pre-packed elections materials reportedly delivered to it (NEC) in recently held Legislative by-elections in Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount Counties.
At a press conference held yesterday at the CLP office in Monrovia, Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson said NEC is proceeding wrongly that, if care is not taken, strong empirical reasons may develop to believe that the elections ahead might not be conducted transparently.
“We will file a petition for declaratory judgment to prohibit and to stop the December 8 Special Senatorial Election. We are angry for the wrongful treatment of our client and we will act precisely on September 11. I mean this very September we are in. Today is the 8th and two days from now, we will be in full gear to go to court,” Cllr. Johnson said.
According to Johnson, his client, Varney Fahnbulleh, owner and operator of M-Tosh, is going through serious mental anguish and business embarrassment as he owes International Bank (IB) a huge sum of money that is still accruing interest.
“This is not about politics. We are discussing a real issue that has the propensity to derail our democratic gains. The same thing happened in 2017 when the Representative and Presidential Elections were held. We are aware that there were sub-standard materials used that subsequently led to a faulty voter roll,” he said.
Johnson added that his legal firm has in its possession all of the pieces of evidence that show that his client (M-Tosh Print Media) participated in a bid, won it to produce pre-packed materials for the December 8 Senate election but has been denied.
“This has worsened the matter. We have all documents that M-Tosh participated in the bid, won it and got the approval from NEC to import the election materials, but the Commission has selected to do business with a Lebanese company that reportedly never participated in the bid, least to talk about winning it,” he claims.
About the amounts associated with the deals, Attorney Aagon Tingba said his legal firm has credible reports that M-Tosh said NEC owes M-Tosh over US$246,000.
“In the District #13 by-election held in November of 2018, M-Tosh brought pre-packed election materials totaling 2,385, and they were received and signed for by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and stored in their warehouse.
“The NEC used 1970 of the pre-packed materials and paid for them. They entered into an agreement. They paid for the 1970 materials but did not pay for the 415 that remained until October 2019 when another Senatorial By-Election was held in Grand Cape Mount County, the time the Commission used 200 of 415 remaining pre-packed materials,” Tingba explained.
According to him, NEC is yet to pay for the remaining 215 pre-packed kits that cost US$97,000 and US$15,000 used to charter the plane (DHL) that brought the materials to Liberia.
He said their client has good business records and has performed satisfactorily over the years.
“Our client has written NEC several times and held meetings with some executives within the Commission, but they have failed to respect his right. We, too, have written NEC and they asked for evidence, something we have provided them but they are yet to comply in accordance with what we know to be legal,” Tingba said.
He said NEC, even yet to pay for the 215 pre-packed election kits, is proceeding with the use of the materials for the voter roll update that is commencing on September 11.
“This is what we will not accept from them. We will ensure they do not proceed with the process lest we talk about the holding of the Special Senatorial Election in the absence of doing due diligence to our client. He is a Liberian and he has gone through all of the right procedures to deserve what NEC owes him,” Tingba added.
He put the bid for the December 8 Special Senatorial election’s materials at US$776,000 that NEC is venturing into giving out to the Lebanese business company.
“We will not call the name of the Lebanese business here now. We reserve that for our proceedings ahead but this press conference is intended to bring NEC to its consciousness that it is proceeding wrongly. When they fail to take us seriously, we will strike legally,” he threatened.
When contacted, Mr. Henry Flomo, NEC’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, said as for now (yesterday), there was no comment from the Commission until when necessary.
“At this moment, no comment,” Flomo said as he hung up the telephone line.