The Supreme Court will today begin hearing a complaint filed before it by Saye S. Mianah, the announced winner of Nimba County District#8 representative seat in the October 10 legislative election that has linked authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to ‘unconstitutionally setting aside’ the result of the poll for a re-count of the votes.
Mianah’s allegation also included the incumbent lawmaker Larry Yanquoi and NEC training officer Daniel Gegbeson for facilitating the re-count, an act he said contradicts Article 83 of the 1986 Constitution.
The parties are expected to appear before Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, the current Justice in Chamber today.
Mianah through his lawyer Cooper Kruah, quoted Article 83, which states that “All except for President and Vice President, elections for public officers shall be determined by a simple majority of the valid votes cast in any elections.”
Contrary to that article, Cllr. Kruah alleges in his complaint to the Supreme Court that three weeks after Mianah was announced winner by the NEC, the Board of Commissioners of the electoral body later constituted a team from their offices headed by Gegbeson to proceed to the district to recount the election results, even though none of the candidates challenged the earlier results, which Mianah won, according to the NEC.
The lawsuit quoted NEC stating that its “decision for a recount was based on the 2005 resolution, which provides that, wherever the difference between the two leading candidates in a representative election is below the margin of 50 votes, the commission shall conduct an automatic re-count of the result of the two leading candidates.”
“Mianah was among the nine representative candidates that contested for the district seat, and at the close of the election in the district, he was declared the winner by a sample majority consistent with Article 83 (b) of the 1986 Constitution,” Kruah alleges.
Mianah obtained 6,108 as opposed to Yanquoi, who secured 6, 089, making Mianah the winner by 19 votes, as provided for by Article 83, the complaint before Justice Ja’neh claimed.
In his argument, Mianah said the 2005 resolution on which the NEC relied provides that such automatic re-count must be conducted by the electoral magistrate at the tally center of the electoral district where the election was held, “but contrary to that, NEC constituted an individual to recount the result.”
“But, the commissioner setup a team headed by Gegbeson, who is not an electoral magistrate, to conduct the illegal recount outside of the district tally center, which contradicts the provision of the resolution,” Kruah claims in the complaint on behalf of his client.
Kruah also argued that though the 2005 resolution called for representatives election to be governed by an absolute majority of 50 plus 1 for a candidate to be declared a winner, during the 2011 referendum that provision was changed from absolute majority to a simple majority.
“This makes the NEC re-count unconstitutional and contrary to the 2005 resolution and by doing so is an attempt to subordinate the constitution to the resolution,” the lawsuit claims.
Before asking the Supreme Court to set aside the NEC’s recount decision, Kruah explained that the district had 78 polling places where the electorates cast their votes and where the votes were counted in the presence of the representatives or observers from each of the candidates, international observers and officers of the Liberian National Police that monitored the polls.
“The vote count results from each of the polling places were acknowledged by each party’s observer without any challenge from the incumbent Yanquoi,” Kruah claims.
“When the final vote count was announced, Mianah won by 19 votes, which was not disputed by any of the contending parties in keeping with Article 83 of the constitution, and he was declared the winner by a simple majority,” Cllr. Kruah argued.
Kruah therefore wants the Supreme Court to prevent the NEC from setting aside the official result in favor of Mianah, and uphold the October 10 result, which declared him as a winner in keeping with the constitution.
The NEC and Yanquoi are expected to respond to Mianah’s allegation before Justice Ja’neh today.