The possibility of the Supreme Court to hear and determine the merit of the elections dispute between Nimba senatorial candidates Edith Gongloe Weh and Jeremiah Kpan Koung, from the just-ended December 8 Special Senatorial election is now becoming a reality.
This stems from a Bill of Information filed on Monday December 28 before the Hearing officer of the National Election Commission (NEC), Cllr, Boakai P. Harris, by lawyers representing Senatorial candidate Edith Gongloe Weh of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).
Currently, Cllr. Harris is hearing testimonies of a complaint of irregularities and fraud filed by Candidate Weh, which she claimed were committed during the mid- term Senatorial election in the county, before filing the bill of information.
In her bill of information filed by several lawyers that include Counsellors Gloria Musu Scott, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Francis Johnson Morris Allison, also former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and former chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Madam Weh argued that the hearing officer should declare the entire result of the special senatorial election held in the county as invalid.
Many legal practitioners perceive that such a request is an attempt by Madam Weh’s legal team not to adhere to any outcome of Cllr. Harris’ investigation and to have the matter decided by justices of the Supreme Court.
Also, in their request, Madam Weh’s lawyers contended that there should be are-run of the said election, in order to uphold the integrity of the electoral process in Liberia.
Before the bill of information, Candidate Weh had already testified and explained about how several ballot boxes were tampered with, as evidenced by broken seals which, she believed, bring into question the authenticity of the results coming out of those ballotboxes.
Her testimony also accused two NEC Magistrates for Lower and Upper Nimba County, Bledoh Flomo and Milton Paye (respectively) of being behind the alleged fraudulent acts.
Weh further alleged in her initial complaint to the electoral body that, due to the gravity of the alleged fraud and irregularities, it was how Flomo and Paye were dispatched from Monrovia to the county.
Unfortunately, she explained that both magistrates, Flomo and Paye, were allegedly seen by a voter (name withheld) who is believed to have lived next door to the NEC’s office in Sanniquellie, the Capitol City of Nimba County offices at 2am.
Weh’s testimonies also claimed that the voter alerted her representatives, who converged at the NEC’s office where they allegedly saw the two magistrates with opened ballot boxes before them.
Explaining the role played by Flomo and Paye, Weh claimed that they entered the warehouse where all the ballot papers were kept.and allegedly began recounting the ballot papers without any notice to either her or her representatives.
She further explained that during the alleged secret opening of the ballotboxes and recounting of the ballots, one Rickson Quiah, who is a known member of the campaign team of her contender, Jeremiah Koung, was present.
Weh also claimed that magistrates Flomo and Paye openly admitted in an interview conducted by a local journalist identified as Melvin Suah, where they said, they were in the warehouse counting the referendum ballot papers.
She claimed that the magistrates Flomo and Paye informed journalist Suah that they were counting the ballot papers on ground that the political parties as well as candidates have no interest in the referendum ballot papers counting.
According to Weh, there were no political parties observers, neither were candidates’ representatives present during the unlawful counting of the Referendum ballot papers by the two magistrates Flomo and Paye.
She also claimed that Paye, in an interview conducted with another journalist identified as Railey Guanbeh on a local radio station, Gompa Radio 106.5, Paye openly admitted to cheating her, Weh, during the mid-term Senatorial election.
Therefore, Madam Weh’s lawyers contended that the “action of the two magistrates, Flomo and Paye, made the content of the ballot boxes, the ballot papers, invalid for a recount. The only remedy that is now available for resolving the complaint is a re-run of the entire mid-term Senatorial Election.”
The Weh legal team further claimed that the authenticity of an election outcome is based on transparency, openness, fairness, neutrality and impartiality prior to, during and following the casting of ballots.
“And that same standard must be maintained during the hearing of a compliant about the authenticity of election results. Consequently, the actions of Flomo and Paye were wrong and require a strong penalty to serve as deterrence for such other election workers for engaging in such unlawful conduct,” Madam Weh’s legal team said.