Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe of Montserrado Electoral District #6 yesterday won his case against Sen. Sando D. Johnson and Rep. Samuel Gayah Karmo of Bomi County and can now contest for the representative seat of Senjeh, Bomi County.
Justice Korkpor noted that one does not have to be domiciled in a district to register and vote in that district adding that one only needs to be a resident in the constituency in order to register and vote.
He stated that it made no difference whether or not the person is a sitting lawmaker in a district from a different district.
“There is no law that forbids a sitting representative of a constituency/district in one county from changing his/her domicile to another constituency /district in another county, while still serving as a representative of the constituency in the county to which he was elected.
That this court has no authority to extrapolate the intent of the framers of the Constitution beyond the plain and specific wordings of the provisions of the Constitution,” he said, “Therefore, where a constitutional provision, on its face, is so plain and unambiguous, it needs no further interpretation. In our view, had the framers of Article 30(b) of the Constitution intended for elected legislators to continuously remain domiciled in the county or constituency to be represented not less than one year prior to the time of election and during their tenure in the Legislature without changing their domicile, the Constitution would have so stated,” he added.
Justice Korkpor further said whatever the Constitution does not so expressly provide for cannot be placed on the court to consider because doing so would amount to lawmaking which is a function that lies in the authority of the National Legislature.
“Electoral districts are not created whenever a sitting legislator decides to register or contest for an elective post in a constituency other than the one he/she represents. That the ruling of the Board of Commissioners of the NEC dismissing the objection filed by Rep. Karmo and Sen. Johnson to the registration, nomination, qualification and certification of Rep. Snowe is hereby affirmed,” he said.
It may be recalled that on August 10, the Board of Commissioners (BOC) of the National Elections Commission nullified both Rep. Karmo and Sen. Johnson’s arguments and declared Snowe as the winner of the domicile and cross county voter registration complaints to the NEC hearing office.
Rep. Snowe meanwhile chose not to comment to the media after the ruling but his counsel Benedict Sannoh said the decision set an agenda for all citizens to understand that legal matters are not discussed outside of constitutionality.
“We are in a country of law and so whoever thinks he or she has a case against another person must be able to support his or her argument by law rather than mere sentiments,” he noted.
Reacting to the Supreme Court’s ruling Senator Johnson and Representative Karmo expressed their utter disappointment. “We accept the ruling because there is nowhere else to which we can take our case in this country but certainly this judicial branch has a lot to do in terms of being fearless, impartial and straightforward as it goes about announcing verdicts in sensitive and seriously legal-oriented cases,” Sen. Johnson told journalists on the grounds of the Supreme Court.
He said that their acceptance of the ruling does not mean any failure on their part but a precedence that all mature citizens will learn from as national elections continue to unfold. “I disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling but (there is) nothing else we can do now. We will take it because we are interested in peace and protection of our democracy,” he said.