“…no document to establish that the NEC was complying with the court’s mandate to fully clean up the FRR,” – Justice Ja’neh
NEC Communications Director Jailed for disobeying court mandate
The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the decision by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to set December 26 as the new date for the runoff election without consulting with the Legislature, and contrary to Unity Party’s contention.
But Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh disassociated himself from the four other justices, including Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor’s decision yesterday.
Delivering the majority decision, Chief Justice Korkpor said, the NEC is charged with the constitutional and statutory duty, mandate and responsibility to conduct all elections for elective public offices including the setting of the date of the runoff, and declaring its result without the intervention of the Legislature.
“NEC has not violated any portion of the constitution for not consulting with the Legislature to set a new date for the runoff because they are not making a new law which is the responsibility of the legislature, rather, they were in full compliance with the constitution,” Korkpor declared.
Addressing another contention that the NEC did not fully comply with the cleaning-up of the Final Registration Roll before setting the new date, Korkpor said the NEC has begun the cleaning up of the FRR as mandated by the court.
“Implementing the mandate was not an event but a process, and the NEC was working with the Economic Community of the West African States and the United Nations Development Program’s technicians to ensure that the FRR was fully cleaned up as mandated by the court,” he stated.
On the argument that the NEC did not consult with the UP and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) before setting the new date for the election, Justice Korkpor said, during the initial deliberation, the NEC, ECOWAS, UNDP and the political parties held joint discussion where they came up with the proposed workplan for the implementation of the court’s mandate.
“NEC had jointly held a meeting with the two political parties, with local observers and members of the media to discuss the proposed workplan by the NEC of which a consensus was reached on the full implementation of the workplan,” Korkpor maintained.
But, in his dissenting opinion, Justice Ja’neh argued that his colleagues proceeded wrongly to say that the NEC had fully cleaned up the FRR. “There is no document to establish that the NEC was complying with the court’s mandate to fully clean up the FRR,” Ja’neh argued.
He said his disagreement came during the oral argument with lawyers of the NEC and UP, of which the NEC lawyer admitted that they had completed 85 percent of the cleaning up of the FRR.
“This demonstrates that they were not in full compliance with the mandate, because they were told to fully comply, which means by doing it 100 percent before setting the new date for the runoff; and they fell short of that,” Ja’neh insisted.
In their Bill of Exception, UP argued that the NEC lacks the constitutional and statutory authority to set December 26 as the new date for the runoff election without first fully complying with the mandate of the court and without authorization from the Legislature, by way of a joint resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives, which makes the electoral body to act contrary of the law.
“And for the runoff to be held on December 26 constitutes an irregular and improper execution of the mandate for the reason that they have not conducted a full cleaning-up of the Final Registration Roll (FRR), and that they have refused, failed and neglected to call for, and endanger collaboration and consultation with the two political parties, the UP and Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), participating in the runoff election, as mandated by the court,” the party claimed.
“That until the FRR is fully cleaned in a manner to make it compliant with the law, is determined (by) the close (consultation) of the two political parties who are to participate in the process, which they failed to do,” UP complained argued.
Meanwhile, the Communications Director of the NEC, Henry Flomo, was yesterday held in contempt of the court, for making an utterance about the runoff, contrary to the court’s mandate preventing a staff of the NEC from speaking about the runoff.
“Flomo is hereby fined US$500 and incarcerated for two days for disrespecting the court’s mandate,” Justice Korkpor declared.
Korkpor further explained that after the court warned staff of the NEC not to make any statement regarding the runoff, “Flomo was heard on the state-run radio, ELBC, commenting that the FRR has already been cleaned and there was no need to have it cleaned,” Justice Korkpor quoted the NEC’s communications director.
Immediately after Korkpor made his order, the Marshall of the Court arrested Flomo. He is currently serving his two-day prison sentence at the Monrovia Central Prison.