Supreme Court 4-1 for Runoff

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By Abednego A. Davis and David S. Menjor

Amid tight security at the Temple of Justice yesterday, four of the five justices of the Supreme Court upheld the National Elections Commission’s (NEC) declaration of the runoff election, with a caveat, while another justice disagreed with his colleagues’ decision.

Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Associate Justices Philip A. Z. Banks, Jamesetta Wolokollie and Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh were in favor, with Justice Kabineh Ja’neh against.

Justice Ja’neh’s argument was that the Liberty Party (LP) and the ruling Unity Party (UP) proved beyond reasonable doubt to substantiate their claims that the conduct of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections was marred by irregularities and fraud and warrants a rerun, of which the majority disagreed.

Outside of the courtroom, and presumably all across the country, people were glued to their radios and social media, listening attentively as Justice Banks read the majority judgment (opinion) of the Court.

As soon as Banks announced that there was not sufficient evidence by the complainants — Liberty Party (LP) and the ruling Unity Party (UP) — the quiet courtyard turned jubilant, shouting: “Thank God the court did not hold the country hostage!”

In the majority ruling, Banks said, “it is the considered opinion of this Court that the ruling of the NEC’s Board of Commissioners declaring a runoff election is hereby affirmed.”

Admitting that the Court’s investigation revealed that there were irregularities and fraud; he, however, noted that they were not of a magnitude that requires the October 10 results to be cancelled and a rerun ordered.

“That fraud is a generic term which embraces all the multifarious means which human ingenuity can desire and are resorted to by one individual to gain an advantage over another by false suggestions or by suppression of the truth. Fraud may be established not only directly but by inclusive circumstances which by their weight may constitute proof; from the facts and circumstances of the instant case, the 1st and 2nd appellants established proof that fraudulent acts were perpetrated at a few polling centers during the Presidential and Representative Elections on October 10, 2017,” he read.

“That notwithstanding our findings that indeed there were some irregularities, fraud, and violations of the New Elections Law, as well as the Rules and Regulations of the NEC, we hold that there is no evidence to show that those violations were in such magnitude that they rose to such level to warrant setting aside the results of the Presidential and Representative Elections held October 10, 2017, and ordering a re-run,” he said.

Banks explained that the Supreme Court repeatedly said parties making allegations are required to present evidence to sustain the whole and not just a fraction of allegations, adding: “In the instant case, the appellants presented some evidence in respect of certain violations; they failed to show, however, that the evidence pervaded the entire spectrum of the elections throughout or in a considerably wide or most parts of the country. This had the effect of substantially discounting the votes of the appellants and that absence of such violations and irregularities, the appellants would have been placed differently than how the NEC placed them.”

He said available Court records reveal that the UP and LP did not demonstrate that there was either a conspiracy by the NEC as an institution or that it sanctioned the conduct of the persons who were alleged to have committed elections violations or irregularities. “We do not believe that the evidence reached that threshold. As important as the evidence was, the fraud and irregularities complained of and shown by the testimonies of the witnesses were limited to the generality of the elections rather than indications of widespread intentional gross conspiracy conduct by the NEC as an institution. The evidence did point to a single candidate benefiting from the irregularities or fraud, or that the irregularities and fraud were orchestrated for the sole purpose of benefiting a particular candidate.”

Justice Banks, who read the majority opinion, said: “That the NEC is mandated and ordered to fully comply with the standards of publications of the FRR as in keeping with law and as discussed in the opinion: That NEC is mandated to conduct a full clean-up of the FRR to have it comply with the provision of the law; that the FRR be made available in published hard copies to all Election Magistrates and polling places across the country in accordance with law prior to any runoff election being conducted; that given the fact that the FRR is the only electoral document that speaks to the eligibility of voters, NEC is hereby prohibited from permitting anyone whose name is not found on the FRR to vote.”

He further recommended: “That any addendum to the FRR be limited to only those in NEC’s polling and counting manual; that poll watchers who are not registered at their places of assignment and whose names are not on the FRR should not be allowed to vote; that the chairman and members of the Board of Commissioners of NEC and any staff of NEC are hereby prohibited from any public or other pronouncements and utterances relating any matters which may grow out of runoff election or any statements in regard to any complaint filed with the NEC as could create any semblance of bias, prejudice or view of the case; and that the stay order issued on October 31, 2017, growing out of the writ of the prohibition filed by the first appellant, is hereby lifted and the NEC is ordered with the scheduling of the runoff election in accordance with the Constitution and the New Elections Law.”

Justice Banks blamed the other members of the Board of Commissioners of the NEC for not advising Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, the chairman of the Commission, to recuse himself from the LP, UP versus NEC final hearing before the Board.

“Having listened to the arguments and contentions advanced by the parties, reviewed the facts and circumstances presented in the records, and examined the laws controlling the case; it is hereby pleased to note that the chairman of NEC, having been shown to made statements and utterances on the elections, while the complaints filed by the appellants (complainants) before the NEC still being investigated and awaiting disposition, and which could be viewed as bias and prejudicial, he should have recused himself from presiding over and sitting on the hearing of the appeal. The Board of Commissioners was therefore in error in denying the motion of recusal filed by the appellants,” Justice Banks noted.

25 COMMENTS

  1. So why they decided to waste the nation’s time? Was it fair to Liberia for us to have gone through such a case? Will history judged these guys as good politicians? Did this case really helped the nation? God thank you for turning it around.

  2. How many former rebels are justices of the supreme court? The preservation of peace in LIBERIA is more important than political interest of individuals or interest groups who want the presidency at all cost, no matter the political consequence of attempting to deny the democratic votes of the majority ordinary people. Thanks to the majority members of the supreme court!

  3. Many thanks to the Chief Justice and his Associates for such a refined decision. The days to fabricate lies in modern Liberia are over. Next is run off and who ever wins become our leader. Whether he is good orator, another Harvard graduate or what ever. Peace is what everyone yearn for in Liberia.

  4. The Supreme has proven its worth and resilience even in the face of increasing pressure. This, in my opinion is a giant step forward in our democratization. Our Honorable Supreme Court did the right thing by not only affirming the RUN-OFF, but also pinpointing the irregularities of the NEC and recommending areas that need improvement. Like I predicted and assume many Liberians did before this ruling, the Compliant (LP) and sympathizers were providing testimonies and arguments about fraud and irregularities that felt short of indicating how these irregularities sliced her percentage below 10% when others were in 30% plus. One thing that is sure, “The voices of the majority will always prevail!!

  5. Thanks to the Supreme Court, the country should move forward. There is no election on this planet that is 100% free of irregularities! Liberian should learn to put their country first. In so doing, we will have empathy for the least amongst us when condition of this nature creates an uncertainty. Let us go to the run off, who ever wins, become the new boss. No matter he/she educational back ground, financial status, social class, sure name etc.. At least this is better than what we had from 1847 to 1980. It is only the Constitution that can qualify an individual Liberian to stand for election, not what other Liberians think and say of another Liberian.

  6. The Supreme Court has articulated the final say on the October 10 Presidential and Legislative Elections marred with gross irregularities and unquestionable fraud perpetrated by agents of Satan in an attempt to undo the will of the People. This is a reminder that God’s Will is in reversible as HE knows best. We gave thanks The God of Abraham, Moses, David for the intervention. Consequently the will of your servants prevails.

  7. The silent 57% registered in control executive emblem brought forth above incumbent’s 34% instructs its NEC to immediately prepare and institute its function of executing the law as interpreted by the nation’s supreme jurisprudence. Tell Liberia. Do not reply this Box.
    Gone in silence.

  8. My gratitude goes to the complaining parties for flagging out the irregularities, in order to create a conducive atmosphere for a transparent run-off. Transparency is a virtue, that must be upheld in any civil interaction. We can now proceed to the run-off, after the Final Voter Roll clean-up, and test our political might.

  9. THIS IS AN OUTSTANDING EXERCISE IN LIBERIAN CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY! IF ANY LIBERIAN SAYS OR SPECULATED THAT A LAW-SUIT RESULTING FROM THE OCTOBER 10TH ELECTION WAS NOT FORTHCOMING, DOES NOT KNOW LIBERIAN PEOPLE! LIKEWISE, ANYONE THINKING THAT THERE WILL NOT BE IRREGULARITIES AND/OR FRAUD, REALLY, REALLY DO NOT KNOW LIBERIANS! NEVERTHELESS, I TRULY APPLAUD THE RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT! THE JUSTICES DID NOT ONLY LOOK BEYOND THE CLAIMS OF “WIDESPREAD” FRAUD/IRREGULARITIES; BUT ADDRESSED THE “OVERALL” IMPACT OF SUCH ERRORS/FRAUDULENT CLAIMS BY FOCUSING ON THE “ACTUAL AND REAL HARM AND DETRIMENT” SUCH IRREGULARITIES/FRAUD/ERRORS HAVE ON THE “FAIR, IMPARTIAL, AND JUST” IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OCTOBER 10TH ELECTION & ITS OUTCOME AGAINST THE APPELLANTS. TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION, ALSO, WHAT “IRREVERSIBLE HARM OR HARMS,” IF ANY, WHICH LIBERIA MAY SUFFER BY IT. RODNEY CHESSON CONCURS WITH THIS DECISION! AND SO BE IT!

    • It is amazing that many of you people on this page think that irregularities are no big deal. Those liberians who think that irregularities are no big deal are the same people who give excuses for the corrut pracitices from government officials who rape and pillage liberia for years. These corrupt practices have grounded liberia into mass poverty, non development, no ghood roads, schools and jobs prospects for the masses.

      • It is amazing that many of you people on this page think that irregularities are no big deal. Those liberians who think that irregularities are no big deal are the same people who give excuses for the corrut pracitices from government officials who rape and pillage liberia for years. These corrupt practices have grounded liberia into mass poverty, non development, no good roads, schools and jobs prospects for the masses.
        Reply

  10. Lesson of the Day: Next time around political parties and other stakeholders should ensure and confirm that NEC takes all necessary measures well in advance to forestall the commission of any errors, irregularities, or fraud like those that have tarnished Liberia’s post-conflict elections since 2005.

  11. In my wisdom mind the four justices actually, responded in a timely mind of the Librarian people,thereby not looking at an individual interest but the rule of Lawas. Bravo

  12. Perfecting our Representative Democracy is a work in progress. After so many years of living under a pseudo-representative democratic system from 1847 to 1985, where some segments of our population were deprived of their constitutional rights under one part rule, many Liberians are beginning to use the law, instead of violence, to fight for their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, equality, and justice.

    The Supreme Court case brought on by these aggrieved opposition parties (LP, UP, ANC); however negatively one may view it, has tested our Constitutional Jurisprudence that resulted in the Supreme Court finding credible irregularities and fraud but not on a large scale to warrant a re-run of the Oct. 10 election. The S.C. also found gross negligence on the part of the election commissioner, as a lawyer who should know better, for not recusing himself from the case involving NEC in which he is also the boss. His presence or participation in the hearings against NEC was a gross conflict of interest.

    This case was a win-win constitutional dispensation for the Liberian fledgling democracy. Though the delay of not carrying out the scheduled Nov. 7th re-run election had the propensity of creating a Constitutional vacuum in Liberia’s presidential succession, the Supreme Court timely resolution showed light on many problems encountered during the Oct. 10th election. The court asked NEC to speedily address these election problems and find corrective measures like making public the Final Voters Registration Roll (FRR) to make sure the run-off is free, fair and transparent.

    Liberians are now enjoying their new found freedom to express themselves freely without fear of death or unlawful imprisonment as in the past. I pray whoever wins the run-off election will guarantee all Liberians this fundamental human rights to freedom of speech, equality and justice.

    Note of caution: Calling for a re-run (in a country with limited financial resources) was not a smart thing to do. It may seem the legal thing to do. Asking for a recount from NEC in a disputed election is a reasonable thing to ask for. May God grant us peace in this heavily contested run-off election?

  13. in all I will say that if there where no election there will be no war no joblessness no homelessness so let the people of lib.think about it and stop the voting and cast lot for the new leaders.apostle:saide president and ceo of a.l.l

  14. Correction: 3rd paragraph should read: Though the delay of not carrying out the scheduled Nov. 7th run-off election ……………

  15. If we had followed the original constitution laid by our fore fathers and founders, 1848 and amend laws as we go to be part of contemporary society, there would have been no unnecessary disciplined rules 1948-1980, military decrees 1980-1991, dictated orders 1992-2005, corrupted-exchanges 2006-2011, Silent control 2011-2017 to curb religious doctrines enhanced and conglomerated complex to reset this Supreme laws of the land. We should commend the silent heritage of the Liberian culture which will smoothen this transition. The Liberian constitution very concise and simple was prejudiced by unfounded so called power seekers who could not understand the common Liberian home language. They rather sort to condemn this master piece composer to suit greed under the pretense of the educated overlooking the uneducated majority. As the proof of its simplicity we came to experience that qualification required became also just mere capability to lead each administration. With the percentage Liberian education which is still not even, the requirement for leadership is the mean. This will continue to exist until we can use our resources wisely to achieve full development. What matters most is the freedom of choice set forth by our founders. With the generation in action now to come, we should refuse divisions which discredit the factual democracy that brought Liberia’s independence. We could be proud of and use our backgrounds to unite the state. It was true and defining at the beginning till the end of world war 2, and maybe some short time after, until the freedom to vote and not to vote was infringed upon by imperialist who brainwashed tyrants within and out the country to become greedy for wealth and power. The problem was not tribal as some thought. During the civil war, each faction in the fight had each tribe and ethnic with them. It is chemical to think that a choice cannot be selected out of 11 or 21. It only requires the human right to select without force and to work with force times distance to achieve. There was more blood shed during the crisis amongst the group of similar ethnics. War has no profit. We have our own resources, and we must use them wisely. This freedom of choice has been re-instated by jurisdiction of the Highest bench of this nation and no doubt legislators will again sifter legislations comparable to Liberia’s interpretation to enable the executive branch to stay within its executive area to avoid dictatorship and tyranny. Liberia’s democracy is a unique form. It does not matter to me who wins, As long as the count is constitutional, factual and actual, we look forward to the must be peaceful inauguration of the next constitutional Leader (President) of the Republic of Liberia. Talk to the Liberian People. Do not answer this box.
    Gone to the silent.

  16. Like I have made some proverbs throughout this drama call case, That “I don’t care how bamboo is ugly it has to go see its in-laws”; ” Every long rope has ending if you try to extent it beyond that ending it will fall from your hand”. Now, interpretation- The final engagement that UP was afraid of (the Runoff because of her miserable defeat in the first round as ruling Party) is to happen. secondly trying to buy time did not help but cause you more setbacks for the pending runoff because most of your supporters left you because ofyourlegal stand giving their plight that you refused to respect and consider.
    Moreover, to know book (education) is good but to apply it is sometime hard most especially when few individuals think that they know more than others because of their legal knowledge. sometimes common sense has won in these instances. Liberia is a young democracy, you can not treat it like other countries that been there before you or had the experience. Our people are strange to these Elections procedures. All of these parties that supported the court process should have known better before going into these elections by forming an alliance but greed and ego caused them to miss the mark for “love for Country”. See JNB VGS CMB AC & BU in the runoff.

  17. There is enough funds to encumber for purchase of electoral detergents to clean-up the registration process and finish the election procedure on constitutional time. No more gimmick or rancor from this incumbent’s pallet NEC. No more X-mas or New year presents promises or gifts from me, my family, until the new next Liberian constitutional President is elected and inaugurated. Exercise your franchise (freedom of choice; ‘the right to vote and the right not to vote’) based on your own individual choice (conscience) accordingly. The freedom the people of this nation has long craved for is the reason why the Liberian nation was founded. My spaghetti, meat balls sauce onions-salt-black pepper, seasoned not yet ready for the none elected, and inaugurated. Neither the incumbent. Not invited. Do not answer my box.
    Gone in Silence.

  18. I write to express my sincere gratitude to the majority of the Honorable Supreme Court Justices for their sensitivity at this moment in time. To determine who will become the next president of Liberia lies with the majority of the Liberian voters.
    For me, the most important thing is the peace and stability of Liberia.
    Thank God for the Supreme Court of Liberia.

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