Supreme Court Warns NEC

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Chief Justice Francis Korkpor yesterday warned authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) not to disqualify any candidate that desires to contest the October 10 presidential and legislative elections because only the Supreme Court has the sole legal authority to do so.

Earlier, Kamara’s lead lawyer, Cllr. Arthur Johnson, argued that his client was never given any due process of law before his rejection, which contradicted the Constitution of Liberia.

Chief Justice Korkpor’s warning came after the NEC admitted that it did not accord Mr. Abu Kamara, a sitting assistant minister of Post & Telecommunications, due process as an aspirant for Montserrado County District #15 Representative seat. The NEC rejected Mr. Kamara because he is a presidential appointee that did not resign his post two years before the elections, according to the Code of Conduct.

Justice Korkpor told NEC authorities that they “cannot disqualify a candidate only based on the application form that he or she has filled in to be qualified for participation in the election process.”

“A form is not an individual that you rely on to disqualify anyone, because you should have first invited the candidate for investigation before rejecting their nomination, which you have failed to do with the case of Kamara,” Justice Korkpor pointed out, adding, “tell the NEC to stop their rejection formalities unless you heard our ruling into this matter.”

The Supreme Court did not give a specific date when it will deliver its ruling in Kamara’s case.

The Supreme Court on March 3, in its opinion (ruling), confirmed the constitutionality of the Code of Conduct (CoC), with three justices in favor and two against. The NEC’s admission came during an argument on whether its rejection of Kamara was in compliance with the CoC. In his argument, Cllr. Musa Dean admitted that Kamara was not accorded due process when the decision to disqualify him was approved by NEC’s Board of Commissioners.

“When the nomination committee noticed that Kamara placed on his form that he was serving as assistant minister for administration at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, the committee immediately disqualified him and submitted the document to the Board of Commissioners, which immediately confirmed the action,” Cllr. Dean said.

“Kamara filed his nomination form on June 19 and he was rejected on July 1. Besides, he had 48 hours to appeal the decision, and he failed to take advantage of that,” Cllr. Dean said in his argument.

“Immediately after the 48 hours; that was, on July 3, the commissioners confirmed the decision without hearing from Kamara,” Dean clarified. The NEC said Kamara was in total violation of the CoC, because he did not resign his position as assistant minister, before applying as an aspirant for the forthcoming presidential and legislative elections. “He admitted on his nomination form that he has not resigned his position and that alone makes the NEC reject his nomination for violation of the CoC,” the NEC lawyer argued.

“Kamara is still in violation of the CoC because he currently serves as an assistant minister at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and has refused to resign that position,” Cllr. Dean added.

Kamara’s lawyer had argued that the NEC, without any legal basis and support consistent with due process, denied and rejected his application on grounds that he is prohibited from contesting for public office as outlined in the controversial Code of Conduct (CoC).

Kamara said although he did not resign his post two years prior to the upcoming elections, “it does not warrant disqualification to contest as a candidate in Section 15.1 of the CoC.”

Cllr. Arthur Johnson said his client had already prepared his letter of resignation, but at that time President Sirleaf was not in the country to approve it, before pleading by saying “we beg this court to allow him to resign and be made to participate in the forthcoming presidential and legislative elections.”

Cllr. Johnson said though Kamara was still occupying his position at the ministry, he could not wait for the return of President Sirleaf to approve his resignation, on grounds that he was going to miss the nomination deadline.

“This is how he managed to apply and indicated on the NEC’s application form that he is an assistant minister at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications. He never wanted to lie under oath, so he was fair enough to admit that he is serving as a presidential appointee,” Kamara’s lawyer argued.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Frontpage is reporting that the Supreme Court warned the lawyers for Kamara, but here Observer is reporting that the Supreme Court warned NEC. Which do we believe?

    Anyway, Justice Korkpor stated “a form is not an individual that you rely on to disqualify anyone, because you should have first invited the candidate for investigation before rejecting their nomination.” Yes Mr. Justice, the form is not the individual but the form was filled out by THE individual. So what difference does it make? And what further investigation can NEC conduct? To call the same candidate and ask him the very same questions he answered on the form: “Are you a presidential appointee and when did you resign?”

    • What about that one question , why ? Once that one word can not be asked by the applicant during an investigation or a hearing, something or an answer he is entitle as part of the due process under the law , is what the Justices are trying to establish . Here in the US utilities companies just would cut the gas , light or phone without any notice . But thanks to the US Justice Marshall that people were entitled to due process before their utilities were cut . That due process is the right to be informed , the right to be notified . These rights are the reasons why companies have to notify a person . This is an important issue at hand and the Court is trying to establish and enforce the due process in the legal system. The due process was denied to the Minister , he was allegedly told that he was disqualified, and that should have been the end . For some yes , for others no .

  2. The Chief Justice is right. The NEC has ONLY the authority to inform an aspirant who has not met the eligibility requirement stipulated in the COC Law that he or she has not met the eligibility requirements, and so cannot be accepted.

    The NEC does not have the jurisdiction to disqualify any aspirant…whether he or she has met the eligibility requirements or not.

    For disqualification can only happen after DUE PROCESS OF LAW. And due process of law IS only administered through the courts; and in these cases, by and through the Supreme Court AND NOT THE NEC.

  3. If the Supreme court voted 3-2, it is this vote that authorizes NEC to disqualify a candidate. The Executive branch executes the law. The Judiciary has already interpreted this law. Wait for the courts decision to show you the meaning of 3 Judges Vs 2 Judges.

    Gone to majority in silence.

  4. You want be big man in gov’t and don’t understand where to start from look for a sound person to advice first. Before you go to court have a good case and do the right thing simple as that. NEC will never deny you if you qualify to run for office. some of your just hard to deal with.

  5. Mann, Supreme Court of Liberia be real as a Supreme Court of the land. Can any Law which
    did not enjoy a national referendum be considered “Constitutional?” Give me a break! Any
    Law from Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to Francis Korkpor then it is constitutional. Wow! Because,
    the proper process was ignored but just rush to the Supreme Court does not make it a
    constitutional at all. Why? Because such law did not pass through two important steps in
    making law in Liberia. (1) National Referendum and (2) Legislative process. The Chief Justice
    should and must know that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf passing it through like that
    with the two processes is her own selfish school-day personal injury to people of Liberia,
    and the Supreme Court of Liberia should not had allowed. Until then, the Code of Conduct
    is here to continually deny the Liberian people constitutional guaranteed rights and freedom.

  6. Allison you are wrong. An act passed by the legislature is in fact a law. There two types of laws. Constitutional promulgation done by referendum, and the subordinate laws/acts, or statutes passed by the legislature and signed into law by the president. The difference is that all acts/statutes have to conform with the existing provisions of the Constitution. The Supreme Court’s role is to interpret or determine if the laws passed by statute or act of the legislature falls in line with Constitution.

  7. Mr. Tarlue, The COC IS NOT AN AMENDMENT; AND SO IT DOES NOT NEED ANY REFERENDUM! It is AMENDMENTS which must pass the constitutional scrutiny of referendums(Articles 91,92, 93. of the Liberian Constitution); NOT acts and or bills passed into law By lawmakers (Article 34 of the Liberian Constitution) and signed into law By the president.

    Peruse Article 90 c of the Liberian Constitution and you will assimilate why the COC does not need ANY constitutional scrutiny of a referendum. If Laws passed By the lawmakers are inconsistent with the Constitution, the Supreme Court can STRIKE DOWN SUCH LAWS.

    The legislature makes the laws, the Judiciary (THE COURT) interpretes the law, and the Executive enforces the laws. The COC IS NOT AN AMENDMENT; AND SO IT DOES NOT NEED ANY REFERENDUM! The Supreme Court (the Judiciary) has interpreted the COC as CONSTITUTIONAL!

    And this is why Abu Kamara´s lawyers displayed as bad boys or “charge and bill lawyers” who were only interested in their fees from Abu Kamara who seems to be NOT INTERESTED IN LAWS, but wants to be a lawmaker.

  8. The NEC has the authority to reject a candidate base on the fact of existing requirements. What does Chief Justice mean when he says NEC cannot disqualify a contestant? If he really said do.

  9. Cyrus, in law, disqualification and rejection are two different, and separate, words. The NEC may deny or even reject, but cannot disqualify. For disqualification means the given applicant has no basis nor right to face the Supreme Court for SUCH MATTER.

  10. TRUE OR FALSE?

    Whoever hath an absolute authority to interpret any written or spoken laws, it is he who is truly the Law-giver to all intents and purposes, and not the person who first wrote or spoke them.

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