By Danesius Marteh ([email protected])
Former Liberia Football Association (LFA) vice president Musa Shannon has accused the Weah Government of interfering with the LFA elections.
In an April 18, 2018 letter to FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura, Shannon also accused the House of Representatives and Deputy Sports Minister Andy Quamie.
Shannon said they sought to unduly influence the proceedings and intimidate voting members by promoting LISCR FC President Mustapha Raji as the government’s choice for the LFA presidency.
“As FIFA regulations clearly state, external governmental influence into the LFA’s election process is a gross violation of Fifa and LFA’s election guidelines and, as such, should have invalidated the entire election process.
“I am requesting FIFA, as the sport governing body, to review the allegations in the interest of transparency and fair-play. I am more than willing to be available for further discussions on the matter and look forward to hearing from you in the near future,” he said in his letter to FIFA.
On April 14, 2018, LFA stakeholders elected Beatrice Mamie Kpoto, Quiwu Perci Yeke, Paywala Janyan, Henry Flomo, Cllr. Joseph Kollie, Julie Seton, Nyemah Nyanway, Kerlie Miller, Ivan Brown and Anthony Deinuka as executive committee members (ECMs) at the Samuel Kanyon Doe sports complex in Paynesville.
Professor Sekou Konneh and Wilmot Smith were elected as vice presidents for administration and operations respectively.
In the presidential election, Raji secured 16 votes, two short of the absolute majority needed for an outright victory while Shannon accumulated 13 votes.
George Solo, who voted and received five votes, placed a writ of injunction on the run-off that should have taken place between Raji and Shannon.
Shannon also told Fifa that he and Solo questioned the legitimacy of Raji to stand in the elections.
But it was Shannon who nominated Bishop George Harris, senior pastor of the Philadelphia Church in Congo Town, to the electoral committee, although Harris has never been a member of the LFA.
Article three, section three of the 2013 LFA electoral code says: “The members of the electoral committee shall be bonafide members of the LFA.”
Chapter 12, article 18 of the 2017 revised LFA statutes defines members as “[officials of] clubs in the first, second and female divisions; Liberia National Old-timers, Coaches, Referees, Banker Sports and Beach Soccer Associations; Sub-associations of the 15 counties and Academicals (Varsity and ISSA).”
During an executive committee meeting before the extraordinary congress on February 24, 2018, Konneh quizzed Shannon on Harris’ legitimacy. In his response, Shannon said Harris is a renowned man of God, who wouldn’t cheat.
And in a bizarre follow-up, Konneh asked whether Shannon would allow him to nominate a renowned Muslim cleric, who wouldn’t also cheat.
As vice president for administration (VPA), Shannon didn’t call for the induction of the ethics committee (headed by Cllr. Nya Gbiantor and includes Cllrs. Jallah Kessely and Supu Cole) because he was aware of the scandals that would have marred the elections and barred several persons from contesting, including him, who admitted to having received US$1,500 from the US$50,000 Fifa sent to Liberia in February 2015 to help eradicate Ebola.
As VPA, Shannon is aware that the electoral code was violated when then LFA President Musa Bility selected Cllr. Johnson and also Cllr. Swahilo Hadji Sesay as co-chair of the election appeal committees respectively because they are Bility’s retention lawyers.
Their selection also violates chapter 19 (conflict of interest) of the 2012 Fifa code of ethics, which prohibits Bility from appointing his “family, relatives, friends and acquaintances.”
Cllrs. Johnson and Sesay are representing the LFA in the ongoing lawsuit filed by Solo at the Civil Law Court, having signed a US$15,000 retention contract.
Shannon and Bility have argued that Atty. Gray was a member of the arbitration committee prior to her selection but have been unable to state the composition of that committee.
Why didn’t Shannon also question the legitimacy of vice presidential candidate Adolphus Dolo, whom the LFA banned for two years and fined US$5,000 for forgery in September 2013 after a ruling from the grievance and disciplinary committee was upheld by the appeals committee?
Dolo’s candidacy violates chapter 21, article 45.4 of the LFA statutes which prohibits candidates, who have been found guilty of a “criminal offense” from contesting.
As VPA, Shannon co-presided over an ordinary congress on December 27, 2016 at the PA’s Rib house in Airfield in which LISCR FC submitted a comprehensive reform to the 2013 statutes.
The bachelor’s degree requirement for president and vice presidents, which prevented James Salinsa Debbah from contesting the LFA 2014 fraudulent elections, was reduced to high school diploma for all candidates.
The rights of chairmen of sub-associations to vote was removed and LFA elections were opened to former and current players, referees, coaches and administrators, who have played an active role in football “for two of the last five years before being proposed as a candidate by five members.”
In keeping with the 2013 statutes, aspirants must have served as president, vice president or secretary-general of a club before seeking elected positions.
But Shannon participated in an executive committee meeting that re-amended the statutes and inserted the bachelor’s degree requirement for president and vice presidents and also changed the five nominations for all candidates to five for president, three for vice presidents and none for executive committee members.
Justifying the decision at a hurriedly arranged press conference on March 23, 2018, Bility admitted that although congress amended the educational requirement to high school diploma, the executive committee decided that an LFA president or vice president must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
But chapter 20, article 44.1 says congress (the supreme and legislative body) is responsible for amending the statutes.
Quamie, in an attempt to demonstrate a high degree of impartiality, relinquished his rights to vote as Watanga FC senior vice president to acting president Jlateh Sayor.
Didn’t Shannon use the connection and proximity of his parents (IE board chairman Dr. Eugene Shannon & then Deputy Presidential Affairs Minister Loris M. Shannon) to prevail on then President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to seek the support of BYC Chief Executive Officer Robert Sirleaf during the 2014 LFA elections?
In a March 19, 2018 letter to Fifa, Woodson listed 10 counts of statutory violations with regards to the elections.
In an April 6, 2018 letter, Samoura asked the LFA to respond on or before April 9 and sent a ratified copy of its statutes and electoral code.
In an April 9, 2018 response, LFA secretary-general Emmanuel Deah admitted to two violations but also refused to acknowledge that the statutes were amended in 2016.
Although Shannon questioned Raji’s legitimacy to run before the electoral committee, he didn’t perfect the three-day for appeals in keeping with article 12, section two of the electoral code.
Shannon says he works at the “will and pleasure” of Bility, who has admitted that his eight-year was a failure.
So he wants to professionalize football, which was commercialized after risky trips to Iraq and Syria and an August 2016 trip to Libya was aborted by the government after a social media campaign led by Canada-based coach Ansu Keita and Smith.
What did Fifa say?
Bility also wrote Fifa on April 22, 2018 about the writ issued by Solo, who also sent an unsigned and undated letter to Fifa. Fifa and international sports federations forbid governmental interference in the day to day affairs of its members.
And in her response to Bility and stakeholders, Samoura acknowledged receipt of the three letters and referred the parties to article 19 of the Fifa statutes, which oblige all members to manage their affairs independently and without any undue influence from third parties.
According to article 19, paragraph two of the Fifa statutes, a member’s statutes shall provide for a democratic procedure that guarantees the complete independence of the election or appointment, she said.
In addition, article 59, paragraph two of the Fifa statutes, Samoura stressed, stipulates that “recourse to ordinary courts of law for all types of provisional measures is also prohibited.”
Samoura reminded the parties that any violation of the obligations contained in article 14, paragraph one of the Fifa statutes may lead to sanctions even if, in the case of undue third-party influence, the fault does not lie with the association concerned. Bearing in mind, Samoura said, Fifa will dispatch a delegation to Liberia to assess the situation.