The opposition party, Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) of Senator Prince Y. Johnson, has lost a case against incumbent Representative Samuel G. Kogar of Nimba County District #5 for lack of sufficient evidence to substantiate their claim.
In the ruling on Tuesday, November 21, at the NEC guesthouse in Sanniquellie, Magistrate Princeton Monmia said after carefully listening to testimonies from witnesses for the complainant, “we observed that those testimonies lacked sufficient evidence to convict the accused.”
Mr. Monmia said on October 16, a representative candidate, Railey Myers, of electoral district #5, representing the MDR, filed a complaint against Rep. Samuel Kogar and those he identified as poll workers and party agents for allegedly influencing voters by providing them food before casting their vote as well as campaigning on Election Day.
They also complained of other acts incompatible with the laws and regulations governing the elections.
The complaint, which was filed at the NEC head office in Monrovia, was transferred to Nimba on November 9, where the alleged irregularities were committed.
In the ruling, a copy of which is with the Daily Observer, classified some of the testimonies the MDR witnesses provided as ‘contradictory,’ while the NEC Magistrate charged one of the witnesses, Nathan Gaye for ‘impersonating.’
“Though Gaye partly testified, he was later disqualified based on the motion raised by the defense counsel, accusing him of impersonating as a poll worker. He was later turned over to the police for further interrogation,” the ruling said.
The Magistrate cited points from the testimonies of the complainant’s witnesses that ballot boxes for the representative votes were taken to the home of Rep. Kogar’s campaign chairman, where those who registered illegally voted.
One of the witnesses, George Nyanzee, said that at precinct #33015 in Beo Bleemieplay Town, four ballot boxes were taken to the house of the chairman, contradicting the other witnesses who said only one ballot box that was transferred to the chair’s house.
The document also explained that at some point, witnesses said the ballot boxes were not brought back until October 11, while another witness, who was later disqualified, said the ballot boxes were carried away to the chairman’s house for two hours and taken back to the precinct.
In count six of their complaint, according to the NEC ruling, the complainant alleged that all the poll workers from Precinct #33088 in Nyo-Gormahplay Town, which is the birthplace of Rep. Kogar, 21 of the poll workers were invited by Kogar for lunch at his house, but another witness said only three of the poll workers were invited.
Having carefully reviewed the allegations and listened to the testimonies from both the complainant and defendant, the Magistrate ruled that candidate Myer’s complaint was based on information given by supporters, so it failed to produce rebuttal witnesses, who could establish as to whether voting cards collected from alleged voters and brought by the complainant cannot be admitted into evidence, since the owners were not present for the hearing. Also, report of eating at Rep. Kogar’s house did not in any way affect the outcome of the election.
However, the MDR, led by Chairman Moses Ziah, challenged the ruling by announcing an appeal to the NEC Hearing Office in Monrovia.
Ziah claimed that most of the complainant’s witnesses were denied from testifying.
“We have over 200 witnesses, but were not given the chance to speak and the poll workers we accused of being at the center of the irregularities could not appear for the hearing,” said Zephaniah Gbahn, one of the complainant’s witnesses.
In a related development, there has been a war of words between Senator Prince Johnson and Rep. Kogar following the October 10 polls. The confusion intensified recently when Rep. Kogar took the airwaves complaining of an assassination attempt on his life by two unknown men at his residence in Buutuo, which he believed was master-minded by Sen. Johnson, but Sen. Johnson described Kogar’s claim as ‘unfounded.’
There is great division among the citizens of Electoral District #5, especially residents of Nyor-Gormahplay Town, which is home to both Sen. Johnson and Rep. Kogar.
The MDR was legally represented by Cllr. Benedict Sagbeh, while Cllr. Albert Sims and Atty Bob B. Laywhyee represented Rep. Kogar.