-As an injunction awaits NEC at court for failure to pay a Liberian election materials vendor and alleged foul play
By David S. Menjor
Today, September 11, 2020 was set aside by the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the beginning of the voter roll update (VRU) but the process might be put on hold should the Consortium of Legal Practitioners (CLP), headed by tough talking Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson, file a petition to the court for the Commission’s failure to pay a Liberian vendor for earlier services rendered the NEC.
At a recent press conference held by Cllr. Johnson and his colleagues in Monrovia, he raised concerns over NEC’s refusal to pay M-Tosh Prints Media, a Liberian owned company, over US$200,000 for prepacked materials delivered for by-elections in Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount Counties in 2019.
According to Cllr. Johnson and his colleagues, “M-Tosh brought into the country 2,385 prepacked kits of election materials on order and agreement with the NEC and, of the amount, NEC used 970 but has refused to pay for the remaining 215 prepacked kits of election materials, even though they are set to use the materials beginning today for the VRU.”
CLP put the cost of the 215 prepacked kits of election materials at US$97,000 and another sum in the tune of US$150,000 for the chartered flight that brought in the materials.
“Our client borrowed the money, mainly the US$150,000 from the bank, the International Bank (IB) and interest is accruing on a daily basis but NEC cares less about it. Troubling is the fact that we are impeccably informed that they have awarded a Lebanese owned company the contract to bring in prepacked materials for the December 8 Special Senatorial Election, even though we have in our possession all pieces of evidence from the very NEC and the Public Procurment and Concession Commission (PPCC) that our client is the legitimate winner of that bid too,” CLP said.
Cllr. Johnson and Attorney at Law, Aagon Tingba, alarmed that NEC’s action has caused serious mental anguish to their client, Varney Fahnbulleh, CEO of M-Tosh, and completely shattered his business.
CLP said NEC’s action is deliberate and completely detrimental to the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections.
“Tomorrow, we will file the petition for declaratory judgment to prohibit and stop all processes leading to the December Senatorial Election. We are serious about this and our reliance is the law. The court will decide in this case before anything can further be done for the ensuing election,” Johnson told the Daily Observer yesterday.
In 2017 the Daily Observer reported that M-Tosh was reportedly denied by the NEC the right to import prepacked materials for the Representative and Presidential elections, even though the Liberian-owned company won the bid for the services required at that time.
The contract, which was in the tune of a littleover US$2 million, landed in the hand INKRIPT, a Lebanese owned and operated company, even though PPCC, under the stewardship of Dorbor Jallah, then differed with the NEC on the legitimate bid winner, simply because M-Tosh, the actual winner again was sidelined for the foreign company.
M-Tosh Prints Media was by then in partnership with UNIPRINT, a South African elections materials vendor.
NEC, under the watch of fomer Chairman Jerome G. Kokoya awarded the contract to yet another Lebanese company, thereby leading to a faulty voter roll production that led to a series of court proceedings.
Pieces of evidence show that there were frauds at the polls but the Supreme Court, in its opinion, said that the offense was not egregious to have required the cancellation of the elections results at the time, but ordered that NEC clean up the voter roll.
The Daily Observer is reliably informed that Board of Commissioners (BOC) of the National Elections Commission (NEC) came under serious and tough questioning by the House of Representatives (HOR) committee on election for several missteps, including direct involvement and tampering with procurment processes.
NEC, when contacted recently to speak to the concerns raised by the lawyers representing M-Touch, declined to comment. Its communications and public affairs director, Henry Boyd Flomo, said: “As for this moment, no comment.”
Also, the Daily Observer is reliably informed that NEC chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah and her colleagues on Thursday September 9 shunned queries from journalists at the Capitol (seat of the Legislature).
“They ranaway from us and rushed into their respective vehicles and ran with excessive speed each,” Varney Kamara, one of the journalists who was on the scene, said.