‘NEC Proceeded Wrongly to Set Runoff Date’

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The five justices in the Supreme Court (from left): Justices Banks, Ja'neh, Chief Justice Korkpor, Justices Wolokollie and Yuoh (Photo: Nick N. Seebeh)

Just a day to the holding of the November 7 runoff, the Supreme Court has ordered the cancellation of the process, pending an investigation into an allegation of gross irregularities and fraud arising from the conduct of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections based on a case filed by the Liberty Party (LP).

The LP asked for a writ of prohibition, restraining the National Elections Commission (NEC) from proceeding with the runoff election until their complaints were heard and decided by the electoral body.

Issuing the writ, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, who read the opinion (judgment) of the court said, “The writ will lie, where an administrative, tribunal though having jurisdiction over a matter, proceeds contrary to rule which ought to be observed at all times.”

In the instant case, Justice Korkpor indicated, “the NEC has jurisdiction over the complaints filed by the LP, but by setting a date and proceedings to announce the conduct of the runoff election, while the matter was still pending before that body undecided, the NEC was proceeding by the wrong rules.” He therefore granted the “the peremptory writ of prohibition requested by the LP.”

Before, Korkpor’s decision yesterday, Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh had earlier issued an alternative writ of prohibition, which prevented the NEC from holding the runoff election, pending the intervention of the other four judges including the chief justice to hear the matter, because the LP complaints rose from several constitutional issues that a single justice like him, Ja’neh restricted from hearing.

Justice Ja’neh is the Chamber Justice and his initial decision was also upheld and sustained by his colleagues.

NEC lawyer Cllr. F. Musa Dean in an interview following the Supreme Court ruling. (Photo: Nick N. Seebeh)

In the court’s decision, Justice Korkpor also ordered that the “NEC is stopped and prohibited from conducting the runoff election, until the complaints filed by the LP are investigated by the NEC, and if need be the party’s appeal process to the Supreme Court is availed of and the matter is decided by the court.”

Concluding, the chief justice said, “because of the critical nature of the complaints, subject of the petition proceedings, and its implication on the governance of the nation, the NEC is directed to give urgent attention to the expeditious hearing and determination.”

Before yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court, the NEC had earlier without hearing and deciding the LP’s complaints, which also included violation of the constitution and election law and fraudulent acts, set November 7, as the date for the holding of the runoff, between Vice President Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party (UP) and Senator George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

NEC relied on Article 83 of the 1986 Constitution, arguing that the article gives the electoral body 30 days to hear and decide any complaints of irregularities and frauds, after the announcement of the final votes of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections. This, the electoral body believed gave them the constitutional mandate to conduct the runoff, while conducting an investigation into the LP’s complaints.

Justice Korkpor, meanwhile, said the law requires that Article 83 of the constitution be implemented in the light of the entire document, then, the NEC’s sequestered pronouncement, “because every provision is of equal importance and even where there is an apparent discrepancy between the different provisions, the court should harmonize them, if possible.”

According to Korkpor, Article 83 (c ) sets forth a series of events that are linked together and they must be taken into consideration when interpreting the minds of the framers of the constitution in relations to the runoff election, “to expiry of the time provided in that article (Article 83 (c ).”

The Chief Justice said, the more rational and legal interpretation under judicial construction, “is that the reference in Article 83 (b) to expiry of the time provided article (c) refer to the totality of the events emanated in (c) from the announcement of the final result by the NEC to the disposition of any challenge by the Supreme Court,” Justice Korkpor explained.

He also explained that the constitutional requirement NEC argued mandated in Article 83 (c), that only the two presidential tickets with the greatest number of valid votes on the first ballot should be designated to participate in the runoff election, when the vote cast on the first ballot was still subject of allegation of “gross irregularities and frauds before the NEC, which was without legal authority to have designated any two presidential tickets for the runoff election,” Korkpor maintained.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. The late Soviet Leader, Nikita Khrushchev once said, “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge where there is no river.”

    Cllr. Brumskine made all his illustrious promises to fix Liberia but he still came in distant 3rd in the Oct. 10th election. Now, his refusal to acknowledge defeat has opened a Pandora box: this unwarranted lawsuit is going to put Liberia’s peaceful transfer of power in a Constitutional crisis.

    The probability of Cllr. Brumskine garnering enough votes to enter the runoff, even if NEC redo the presidential election, is very, very slim. However, he continues to make his followers believe that he was cheated even though there were 20 candidates vying for the same presidential post.

    NEC is totally responsible for this quagmire. NEC had the opportunity of looking into Cllr Brumkine’s initial complaint before scheduling the Nov. 7th runoff. NEC refusal to do due diligence allowed the “political football” to reach the Supreme Court. The “political football” reaching the Supreme Court only kept Liberians in suspense. It consumed run-off election time and money only to see the Supreme Court tossed the ball back to NEC thus creating political uncertainties.

    Cllr. Brumskine fails to realize as one anonymous philosopher said, “The justification of majority rule in politics is not to be found in its ethical superiority.” Yes indeed, there were some irregularities, some fraud, and poor preparation by NEC. However, this does not justify “reasons beyond reasonable doubts” to cancel the entire election just for political expediency or to please someone’s ego. What will be Cllr Brumskine’s next move in case NEC finds his complaints insufficient to nullify the Oct. 10th election? Will he pass the political football back to the Supreme Court?

    If this mess isn’t resolved expeditiously, we will see protracted election lawsuits in the making!!!!
    “Caveat emptor”…….Let the buyer beware!!

    May God bless Liberia as we struggle to make a wise choice that could make or break Liberia!!!!!!

    • Mr. Conneh, for your correction and information, Mr. Brumskine never cancelled any election anywhere on this earth. What power does Mr. Brumskine have to do as you wrongly characterized here? And judging from how you have twisted this simple and glaring truth in this matter, one could swear it is people like you that give education or educated people a bad rap in Liberia. People like you who don’t have patient for law and order, or for any system or procedure to run it natural course are anarchists, to say the least. But thank God reason or common sense is allowed to prevail in the situation we have at hand, than were it left to the take-it-or-leave-it terroristic method of people like you.

  2. LIBERIA’S SUPREME CT DEMONSTRATES ITS INEFFICIENCY & INEXPERIENCE IN ADMINISTERING LAW AND/OR JUSTICE! IF THE INITIAL JUSTICE HEARING THE COMPLAINT FROM LP HAD REMANDED THE CASE BACK TO THE NEC TO BE ADJUDGED WITHIN A PRESCRIBED TIME PERIOD, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN SUFFICIENT ENOUGH TIME FOR ANY APPEAL FROM THE NEC’S DECISION TO BE HEAR BY THE SUPREME CT PRIOT TO THE NOV. 7TH RUN-OFF DATE! IF NOT, THE SUPREME CT ON ITS OWN COULD SUSPEND THE DATE AND ORDER ANOTHER SPECIFIC DATE (WITHIN A PERSCRIBED TIME FRAME) FOR THE RUN-OFF. BECAUSE THE CT IS INEXPERIENCED AND/OR INEFFICIENT IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE LAW OF THE LAND, THERE IS STILL THE POTENTIAL OF VIOLENCE AT ANY ATTEMPT TO RESOLVE THIS ELECTON MATTER! A HINT TO THE WISE IS SUFFICIENT!

  3. Brumskine is following the law. Whether we like it or not, he is exercising his constitutional rights.

    I can already hear MY critics saying, he should let it go in the name of peace.
    To that I’ll say, that is the exact reason why Liberia is ‘mismanaged’ — we like to take shortcuts instead of following The Law. It is time to follow The Law.

    One of the biggest problems Liberia has is, we don’t know our own constitution. Brumskine is probably doing this because he knows the law and he is refusing to be denied due process under the law.
    If majority of Liberians knew the law, including the electoral laws of Liberia; everybody would have just carried on with their daily activities as if nothing was happening because this case is also a legitimate part of the electoral process.

    Personally, I blame NEC for this messy process. They took ten days to announce the election results but prior to the tenth day; their own daily reporting indicated that they already knew the PROJECTIONS of the results.
    Given the fact that Liberty Party complained about election frauds prior to the results being announced; the real question is, why did NEC not address Brumskine’s complaints before setting a run-off date?

  4. So then, everyone has a case. CDC and UP started to run campaign for the Run-Off based on the announcement by NEC. would their be a law sue for reimburse of expenses? Another october 10th election/Run-Off court day episode coming soon. Watch out for the date!

  5. No matter what one thinks about the interpretation of the Liberian code of justice, the function of the Court at all levels of Liberian jurisdiction is to explain the law to the Liberian people. This is a mandate given by the people of the Republic of Liberia to the Judiciary. The truth of the Liberian laws. NEC seems to be concerned about funds for electoral activities wish might have triggered this incumbent executive branch’s inability to wait and listen to election complaints prior to its anxiety to stage a run-off. But as long the Liberia nation gives a function to be processed, whether by the executive, legislative, and/or Judiciary branch of Government, the funds will be made available. No matter how much. The point here is that this NEC must have a factual actual election process and count without depriving the Liberian people of their freedom of choice. It is not the matter of re-run, run-off, or threat to violence. Never again will the peaceful Liberian election atmosphere be contaminated by a few tyrants. The silent majority got the instruments. The silent majority will provide the figures where funds for peaceful election is an unlimited liability. As long as the election process is in place, this 57% will show you the ballots money that has been appropriated to be encumbered. Liberia needs the actual elected next President and awaits the one.
    Let the Liberia People know the factual facts. Vote your conscience.
    DO NOT REPLY THIS BOX.

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