The Supreme Court yesterday reopened the case of the 2014 disputed special senatorial elections result in River Gee County, mandating the sitting Senator, Conmany B. Wisseh, then candidate of the ruling Unity Party (UP), and his legal team to be present at the hearing on Thursday, February 2.
Wisseh and his lawyer did not attend yesterday’s opening of the allegations of elections irregularities brought against the National Elections Commission (NEC) by his closest rival, former soccer star Jonathan Boy Charles Sogbie.
Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, who delivered the court’s decision, ordered the appearance of Senator Wisseh and the UP legal team on Thursday.
“If Wisseh and his legal team do not attend Thursday’s hearing, the court will go ahead with the matter, and any result arrived at will be binding on the parties,” Justice Korkpor declared.
Before yesterday’s hearing, the Supreme Court had earlier mandated the NEC to conduct an investigation into reported allegations of elections malpractices filed against the result in nearly four of the 15 counties.
The court also mandated NEC not to ‘certificate’ any disputed winner unless it had completed investigation into the reported irregularities.
While the matter was pending, the NEC managed to only ‘certificate’ Wisseh as the winner of the 2014 special senatorial elections, defending that its magistrate did not err during the exercise as alleged by Sogbie.
That action was challenged by Sogbie, who later asked the Supreme Court for a “Writ of Prohibition” to prevent the NEC from ‘certificating’ Wisseh.
Though the court did not file the writ, it mandated NEC to re-conduct an investigation of Sobgie’s complaint and subsequently submit it findings to it, of which NEC failed to do up to yesterday’s hearing.
Chamber Justice Philip A.Z. Banks then said NEC had no legal authority to proceed with the certification of anyone without first hearing all of the complaints filed to it, even though the justice did not mandate NEC to de-certificate Wisseh.
In the meantime, the High Court ordered NEC to launch a re-investigation of the matter, which the commission had failed to do, thereby prompting the intervention of the five judges of the court that led them to invite Senator Wisseh to appear in court on Thursday.
The NEC claimed that Senator Wisseh defeated Sogbie by a margin of 953 votes, a result that was challenged.
The tally, according to the official website of the NEC, was the result from all 77 of the county’s polling centers.