NEC Rules Against Rep. Snowe, Cites ‘Lack of Domicile’

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Snowe files appeal at NEC Board of Commissioners; may reach Supreme Court if…

The National Elections Commission (NEC) Hearing Office headed by Cllr. Muanah S. Ville has announced that Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe could not establish domicile as required by Elections laws to contest in the ensuing elections for Sinje District #1 in Bomi County.
The decision followed Senator Sando Dazoe Johnson’s complaint on July 21 that Rep. Snowe was crisscrossing to another county even though he was a sitting representative for Montserrado County District #6.

Commissioner Ville, in his ruling, said it was discovered that Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe is the sitting representative of Montserrado District #6 and currently holds an unexpired certificate of the NEC dated back in 2011 and therefore could not be allowed to contest for another district.

Cllr. Ville noted that it is not possible for Snowe to have domicile in two different districts at the same time, most especially so when he is still a sitting lawmaker. He said because Rep. Snowe still holds a valid NEC certificate as of 2011 for Mont. District #6 but has willfully chosen to run for the same post in another district of another county, he could not be granted the privilege to contest in Bomi County.

“As per definition, domicile is a person’s fixed, permanent, and principal home for legal purposes, such as elections or family connections,” he said.

During the argument phase, Rep. Snowe’s witnesses, including Weakama Town Chief Weafie Konah, and Zoe Konah (Snowe’s cook) said Rep. Snowe has lived in Sinje, Bomi County for over a year and has real estate properties, along with his farm and other investments in the district.

Despite NEC’s decision against him, Snowe promised to pursue all legal means to contest in Bomi

However, countering Rep. Snowe’s witnesses, Representative aspirant Charles Brown and Richard Divine testified that Snowe has no domicile in Bomi County and therefore lacks any legal backing to contest in the district in October.

After the decision, Senator Johnson told reporters: “This only shows that there are men and women in Bomi who mean business for their county. We will not sit and allow anyone such as in the case of Rep. Snowe to use our children by giving them money so as to rob the county of its sanity.”

He added, “Even though there is a public perception that the people of Bomi are lazy, the clear truth remains that we are not beggars in the streets, nor are we seeking unnecessary assistance from Snowe who has failed to ably represent the people of Mont. District #6.”
In his reaction, Rep. Snowe’s lawyer, former Sen. Mabutu Nyenpan filed a bill of appeal to the Board of Commissioners of the NEC.

Rep. Snowe told reporters, “I am very happy that we have the rule of law in our country. The ruling against me will not deter me from going ahead with my plan to campaign for votes for October 10.

“There is no law or a prohibition, however, cited in the ruling that prevents me from continuing with my campaign. If the Board of Commissioners of NEC rule against me it will still not be the end as I am prepared to pursue justice at the Supreme Court, the final arbiter of justice in our land,” he noted.

Rep. Snowe however, said that if in the end, the Supreme Court rules against him he will respect the decision and will keep on being active in Bomi County.

Supporters believed to be those of Rep. Snowe became agitated and shouted slogans such as “It will hold, Snowe is our man, the talk and do,” while Sen. Johnson’s team was jubilating in the compound of the NEC with slogans such as “Sando is our hero, we will not sell our birthright for peanuts or whatever.”

Rep. Samuel Gayah Karmo, the incumbent representative of Bomi County District #1, has also appealed to the NEC Board of Commissioners against the Bomi Magistrate’s earlier ruling that he (Karmo) was wrong in the case he had filed against Snowe’s cross-county registration to participate in the ensuing elections.

Reacting to yesterday’s ruling, the Clan Chief of Zepeh Chiefdom in which Weakama falls, Madam Kona Harris said she was very happy that the ruling was in the favor of Johnson and warned Snowe to step aside.

“Bomi is not a football field where anyone can just come and practice on. We will not allow anyone to take his or her jersey and go after they realize that he or she can no longer continue with future matches,” Madam Harris said.

Snowe’s case of crossing county boundary as a sitting representative is the first of its kind in the Liberian political history.

Authors

44 COMMENTS

  1. One can be a resident of more than one place, but one cannot be domicile in more than one place. If Snowe was domicile in Bomi for the past year, it would mean that he was illegally representing the people of Montserrado because one cannot be domicile in Montserrado and Bomi at the same time. Resident is where you live, domicile is where you live with the intention to remain permanently.

    • You are wrong David, because there is no law that compares a Lawmaker to reside in the district that he represents. The law only compares an aspirant to have resided in the district one year prior to the election. Period.

      • Interesting point. You are correct in that the law only speaks to aspirants in that it expressly requires an aspirant to have been domiciled in the district for one year before contesting. The law does not expressly require a representative to remain domicile in the area he represents. But just because the law does not expressly require something does not mean that it cannot be inferred.

        So the issue here will be if one is required to remain domicile in the district he represents.

        I think the answer should be YES. The whole point of requiring an aspirant to be domicile in the district he wishes to represent is because as a representative, you represent the people. You therefore need to be accessible to those people to understand their needs, wants, and concerns. What precedent will we be setting if we allow lawmakers currently representing one district to abandon that district and become domicile in another district? This is why I believe they should rule against Snowe. If you represent one district, you should remain domicile in that district to continue representing the people in that district.

        • David K., about those who are resident of Montserrado County and are representing their people in different counties?

          • I mean how about those who are resident of Montserrado County and are representing their people in different counties like Nimba, Lofa, Sinoe, Maryland etc?

      • Paye, if u write our laws, we will need a ship to transfer a copy from one location to another – it would be too heavey. The way we eat, sleep, drink, cook, swim …. all will be included.

  2. Until Snowe and his “charge and bill” lawyers understand the letter and spirit of Article 30 b of the Liberian Constitution he Snowe shall keep on clowning with his very big nose.

    A whole former Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh does not know that RESIDENCE AND DOMICILE ARE TWO DIFFERENT DICTIONS, THOUGH ONE’S RESIDENCE MAY ALSO BE ONE’S DOMICILE, BUT WHILE ONE MAY HAVE HUNDREDS OF RESIDENCES, HE OR SHE CAN HAVE ONLY ONE DOMICILE AT A TIME!

    This matter should have been ruled against Snowe long long ago, if the NEC Magistrate in Bomi knew better.

    But again, if a whole former attorney general Benedict Sanor Snowe’s lawyer does not have the knowledge and understanding of such tenets of PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW 101, it’s obvious the “poor” NEC Magistrate assigned in Bomi should not be expected to do any better; not to talk about an intellectually and legally blind Edwin.

    We are very elated that sons or in fact heroes of our home state Bomi as S.Gayah Karmo, The Dazoe himself Senator Sando Johnson, and former Senator Richard Devine Jr. have sent a very clear warning that BOMI SHOULD NEVER EVER BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED!!!

    • You’re right, one can have many residences, but a single domicile. Snowe is trying to corrupt the system but his actions are totally illegal and unprecedented. His argument is without legal merit.

    • I guess if this case goes to the Supreme Court and the higher court rule in favor of Snowe, you will again condemn the higher court of not knowing the law. Maybe the Supreme Court will have do LAW 003. Being civil in expressing your disagreement carries a sound signal.

  3. This one hard to talk. Liberia is the only country on earth where all kinds of funny things happened like this one.

  4. With the justices of the Supreme Court UNDERFIRE FOR THEIR LACK OF INTEGRITY viz their intentional misrepresentations of such constitutional tenets as “substantial compliance” and “due process”, you bet they prefer not to bring any further DISREPUTE to the Supreme Court.

    Hence, any intentional misrepresentations from them on such legalities viz “domicile” and or “residence” are, on their part, unthinkable no go areas! Karmo and Bomi have won the case. Snowe and his money have lost the case!

  5. I think the NEC lawyers and justice system is the smartest in Liberia now, by demonstrations, NEC passes even far better judgement than the Supreme Court that has been compromised.

    • I will respectfully disagree with you, Michael. The NEC cooperated with the Supreme Court during the imposition of ILLEGAL fines on “disqualified” candidates, when the Code of Conduct had no punishments prescribed for violation. That was a travesty of justice, yet The NEC conformed.

    • Because you didn’t like the supreme court decision regarding the coc, so you and others have resorted to calling the supreme court all sorts of names, the coc especially the three years clause that requires one to resigned is a foolish law based on witch Hunt, in fact no where in the world such a law exist. The supreme decision was wise and timely

  6. The concept of domicile has different meanings in different context. For purposes of jurisdiction, “domicile” means a legal residence which is the place where a person has fixed dwelling with an intention of making it his/her permanent home.

    Domicile is a combination of two factors namely, residence and intent to remain. As the term domicile includes residence, the scope and significance of the term domicile is larger than the term residence. An individual may have several residences whereas; s/he will have only one domicile. Domicile is more used in reference to personal rights, duties and obligations.

    Generally residence is referred to a place, where one person lives. It is also a building used as home. Residence is of a more temporary nature compared to domicile. An individual’s present physical location of stay is residence[iii]. It may be one among several places where a person may be present. Residence can also be referred to a person’s fixed place of stay without any intention to move from there.

    Domicile involves intent of an individual whereas, residence is something objective. A person may have his/her residence in one place and his/her domicile in another.

    Whether the term ‘residence’ used in a statute will be construed as having the meaning of ‘domicile’, or vice versa, depends on the purpose of the statute. Also, the nature of the subject matter as well as the context in which the term is used would be taken into consideration.

    The terms are given equivalent meaning when used in connection with subjects of domestic policy. These terms are given equal meaning where a statute stipulates residence as a qualification for the enjoyment of a privilege or the right of voting in an election.

    Residency is a more flexible concept than domicile, and permanency is not a requirement for residency. Even a temporary and transient place of dwelling can qualify as residence. In addition, a minor is legally unable to establish a residence separate and apart from their parents.

    Residence takes meaning from the context in the term is found. A definition which fits one situation will not be apt when used in another context or in a different sense.

    • Do you understand that he has to be currently domiciled in Montserrado County in order to hold his position as representative? How else can he also be domiciled in Bomi? This would mean that he is illegally representing the district in Montserrado. He cannot tap dance from one county to another.

      • Just in case he abandoned his people in district number 6 for the past one year, is he still domiciled in Montserrado? Let us be careful how we interpret the law.

  7. Well, I will deviate a bit from the legal implications of this matter as related to this NEC’s ruling. I hope you will understand and please bear with me.

    As it is commonly said, “When your house don’t sell, street will not buy you” (unknown). There is a “void” created in the Bomi County by the absent of our “so-called” Legislative Leaders. Please forgive me Madam Hajah of the Suehn-Mecca District. People in your district told me that you have been very involved with developmental endeavors. Thanks for your “good work.” Unlike the Honorable mentioned, the other lawmakers have been conspicuously absent from Bomi County! All efforts to engage these guys in us developing the country has fallen on deaf ears! Phones’ called , in person visitations, letters, emails, etc. are never ever answered! These jokers are so elusive like nocturnal creatures. As a citizen of Bomi County, I can personally attest to that!

    Sometimes ago, I questioned Snowe’s intentions in Bomi. Not only that I questioned it, but I criticized it bitterly. Returning to the county 10 months ago, I have come to realize how Snowe is single-handily helping Bomi, most especially Senjeh District. The Public Radio Station (Bomi Radio), the government hospital, Bomi County Community College, scholarships, employment opportunities for the people, and the list goes on! The guy is an “Oasis in the desert!” These saviors of Bomi needs to bury their heads in the sand! In the end, the “UNOQUOI” (Gola, “a stranger) will become the next representative of the “UNOJAWAH” (Gola, “town owner/s). The stranger is doinga damn good job! The County Superintendent is trying his best but he is just one person way at the bottom! Our lawmakers have decimated our county and social development funds for their selfish motives! All projects earmarked will not be completed. They have no integrity, whatsoever! Snowe is the president of Bomi and so What?

  8. Mr. Snowe, there are no such things as all legal means for you to contest in a District that you have no prior representation. You are like BAT that jumps from place to place. Playing political GAMES can not stand anymore. Liberians know better that you are play on their intelligences. It is time that you exit politic because you Guys have corrupt the NATION enough.

  9. Boima,

    Even if Snowe (or anyone) “is doing a damn good job, completing all the projects”, giving employment to everybody in the county, building skyscrapers, building hospitals, roads, schools, libraries,paving all the streets, etc.etc.; HE SHOULD AND MUST BE DISCIPLINED AND LAW ABIDING!! PERIOD!!!

    NEVER COMPROMISE LAWS, PRINCIPLES, NORMS, AND MORALS, BECAUSE OF ECONOMIC NECESSITIES OR WHICHEVER NECESSITIES!!!

    The very fact that Snowe who is on record for having parties at which he had young girls stripping themselves naked for the eyes and lust of those attending the party, and his LAWLESS APOROACH to not only “becoming one of us” but also representing us and our HOME STATE, are indications and warnings that Snowe must be stopped now and sent for rehabilitation!

    No county or constituency should ever COMPROMISE laws, principles, norms, morals, and their way of life, simply because the county officials may not be “doing a damn good job” or “completing all the projects”!!!

    Snowe’s belief that life or leadership is all about money is anathema to the true human spirit, common decency, and the way of life of the great people of Bomi in particular and Liberia in general!

    • What is the law you are referring to? The law is silent on this issue. The supreme court will throw this outside the window.

    • Kandajaba, You probably read and never understood my introductory sentences. Please reread it before replying. Thanks.

  10. When will Liberians ever learn to stop being divisive? What freaking difference does it make as to where this man lives? For Christ sake, look at his credentials, his deeds, his contributions and his platform. I don’t know this gentleman (Snow) cause I’ve been away for more than 22 years, but I’ve heard real great things about him.
    Liberia needs people who will impact the lives of ordinary Liberians and from what I’ve heard, Snow is an absolute replica. Stop the pettiness and look at the bigger picture my people!!!

  11. Gathering from the various responses, there is clearly a moral dilemma, as inscrutable as the political, social, economic and other concerns articulated. In an attempt to discredit, disparage, or even hail the honorable gentleman who is the central focus of the article, it behooves all of us to critically reflect not so much on the merits or demerits of our arguments as salient as they are, but rather on the realities that the situation has now quickened.

    The situation is even more difficult and complex than meets the eye. What is the real intent of honorable Edwin Snow’ s investment and presumed benefactor’s disposition toward the county and people of Bomi. Is it purely for political purposes, humanitarian, business, or all combine. It’s critical, because motive is an underlining factor which cannot be ignored.

    There is also the response of the people. Is the people’s response a manifestation of their gratitude to Snow’s economic response to them? There is also the question about the state of the country as a whole. The current scenario leaves a lot to be desired and to contemplate relative to the Liberian state, a nation after 170 yrs is still toying with the idea of democracy, self-identity, lack of a national platform that adequately articulates, not simply where we stand politically, but is compounded by gaps as to our social and economic realities, and the unnerving silence of who we are as a people and our destiny.

    While Snow may not qualify in keeping with existing laws and statues, it leaves open the question of the human element, which, in my opinion and relative to the Liberian reality, trumps any and all political considerations and even transcends them. This bring to the fore Our Lord and Savior Jesus’ remark, when on a particular occasion and at a particular event, he referred to the people’s response to him as “sheep without shephards.” In another instance he talks about “the blind leading the blind.”

    In an attempt to juxtapose these words of the Master and our Savior the realities of Liberia emerged. Political expediency puts Snow in the right; but, however, existing legal norms dismissed him. However, we still have to deal with the people’s reality and response to this emerging reality. I think it would be unfair and quite frankly an insult to the people to characterize their response as a sellout; or to Snow as biting at opportunism.

    If the full scope of the Liberian realty is to be taken into consideration, it will serve well our purpose to soberly reflect on the matter at hand. This is a teachable moment and the wise at heart needs to listen.

  12. Mr. Bamakpa: Mr. David Kemah is absolutely right! You are very very wrong! You are making the same mistake the so called NEC Magistrate assigned in Bomi, and Benedict Sannor made.

    The issue or the law of relevance in this case is not about “residence” !!! It’s about “DOMICILE”!!! A PERSON, whether an aspirant or not an aspirant CANNOT HAVE TWO DOMICILES AT THE SAME TIME! He or she can have several residences if he or she pleases, but HE OR SHE CAN ONLY HAVE ONE DOMICILE AT A TIME.

    This is why the word “residence” IS NOT used in Article 30 b of the Liberian Constitution, BUT RATHER, THE WORD “DOMICILE”!

    Even if Edwin took such a lawless approach to his DOMICILE OF ORIGIN – Grand Bassa County, he would be disqualified, as long as his DOMICILE he is domiciled in another constituency.

  13. George, the issue is not about what constitutes or proves Snowe’s claim to intent or domicility. The issue is whether a person can have two domiciles at the same time? The answer is A BIG NO! Hence Snowe being domiciled in another constituency CANNOT BE CONCURRENTLY DOMICILED IN ANOTHER COUNTY.

  14. Why will the migistrate of that county ruled in favor o Sanow and the NEC ruled against him?Who will we listen to when it comes to the interpretation of law in this case?For my opinio,I think the NEC ruling makes sense but let wait and see what the board of commissioners will say.I believe this case will end at the highest court.

  15. Tony, Montserrado became his DOMICILE ipso facto his being a Representative within the Legislature from Montserrado County (article 30 b of the Liberian Constitution).

  16. We Liberians should be ashame of ourselves by arguing such things. Our neighbors are laughing at us. Snowe should know better. You already a Representative in Montserrado, why going to another County to force yourself there. Is it because you got money? We Liberians can quickly be taking away because of money, that’s what got our Country backward today.

  17. I am loving the use of the law rather than violence in this electoral process. I can only call on those charged with the responsibility to interpret the law to do so without fear or favor. Let the facts be used to determine the elements of the law. One may want to know why the framers of our Liberian constitution required residency for the positions of senator and president respectively and domicile for the position of representative. Thus, the questions to the case in point will be what constitutes domicile and residency? what is the difference. As a legal matter, each of these operating words is legally defined. Like the cases in the code of conduct, let us not allow our emotions to becloud our judgement. I got my popcorn and I hope you have yours: cuz this is just getting interesting to watch. As you watch, keep a copy of the elections law and the constitution by your side to go along with the movie. Ask if you do not understand. In this regard. I am offering a pro bono to help provide as much clarification as I can to the readers of the Observer and other news media that I read.
    Thanks,
    Edwin N. Dennis

  18. Wherever the fore runners of our democracy and the freedom of speech, the likes of Tuan Wleh, Dwedi Dhotoe, Gabriel Baccus Matthew, Wou Tapiah, Coleman, Albert Porte, Wilmot Edward Bladen and the others are, may peace be upon their ashes. Truly, I must admit that Liberians are becoming more enlightened and conspicuous of their rights under the Rule of Law. The debates are more healthier than, in my opinion, has been in the last past 2 elections (2005&2011). May peace be upon his ashes…like the late Chairman of the last Council of State, Chairman Jude Bryant, once told journalists when he was asked as to what he was doing to address himself to the many allegations that were been leveled against him in the media? He answered and said, “if they are not talking, they will be shooting. And so, it was better for than to talk than shoot”. I strongly agree with the late Chairman that the more we talk about our differences, the better we will understand ourselves.
    I do admire your healthy arguments on issues of national concern.

  19. Mr. Edwin N. Dennis,

    A PERSON’S INTENT is simply ONE OF THE MANY INGREDIENTS OF DOMICILE! So, do not get confused viz the fact that because a particular residence of an individual may well suggest that he or she intends to make that RESIDENCE his or her domicile, residence equals domicile. NO! DOMICILE DOES NOT EQUAL RESIDENCE!! See more in the last paragraph.

    There is absolutely NOTHING ABOUT DOMICILE in Article 52 c of the Liberian Constitution which deals with the residency clause of the President and Vice President. WHAT is written in that clause is the word “RESIDENCE” AND NOT “DOMICILE!

    Secondly, you are wrong to claim “the Liberian Constitution requires residency for senators.” The Liberian Constitution in article 30 b requires “DOMICILE” FOR LEGISLATORS (REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS)!!!

    DOMICILE DOES NOT EQUAL RESIDENCE. Even if a Liberian citizen has several residences in every county and uses the one in a given county as his or her PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE… a fact which may suggest he or she intends to make that RESIDENCE his or her domicile, he or she can only become domiciled in that county of his or her principal residence AFTER his or her current DOMICILE… be it domicile of origin, domicile of choice, or domicile by operation of law, has been RELINQUISHED!

  20. If this is allowed, it means anyone living in Monrovia who has a business or farm outside of Monrovia can serve as a representative for that area. What makes Mr. Snowe’s attempt more daring and illegal, is he has a duly registered domicile with NEC for which he is a sitting representative. What happens if he wins the Bomi seat? He will either resign his Montserrado seat leaving that seat vacant or serve in both capacities silmultaneouly. That will create a serious constitutional issue. Why! why!! why!!! TO SATISFY THE GREED OF ONE PERSON?????

  21. Boima,

    The crucifixion of standards of propriety as reciprocacy for a clear lure disguised as good samaratanism towards “county projects”, or as a remedy for “getting back” at county officials, does not tally with integrity nor reason.

  22. Senator Johnson has failed the people of BOMI,so he don’t want Hon Snowe to expose him. If he says that the people of Senjeh are against Hon Snowe,let October 10 prove it. Shame on Sen Johnson

  23. Facebook lawyer ready again. There are 2 more steps to the final ruling. The law says “1 year domicile prior to election”. Does it mean one must be domiciled during representation or for the entire tenure? Supreme Court waiting for you’ll again.

  24. Let’s be serious with how we see issues, because the is no way that we should a bounder our constitution, we await supreme court

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