Reports had been filtering to the media suggesting that Supreme Court Justice-in-Chambers Sie Nyene Yuoh would deny the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP’s) application for a Writ of Mandamus seeking to have the National Elections Commission(NEC) clean-up the Voters Roll (VR) or the Final Registration Roll (FRR) before the conduct of the scheduled December 8 Senatorial Elections.
The elections are also set to coincide with a National Referendum as well as legislative by-elections for Sinoe and Montserrado Counties. Although such reports had been filtering into our offices, it had appeared unbelievable that the Supreme Court after having failed in 2017 to reprimand the then NEC Chairman for failing to adhere to its mandate to clean-up the FRR before the conduct of the 2017 run-off polls, would have considered this a perfect opportunity to compel the NEC to clean-up the FRR.
But once again it appears the Supreme Court has let down the hopes and aspirations of the Liberian people for peaceful, transparent, fair and free democratic elections in their beloved country. It has instead turned down a request to have the NEC adhere to its (Supreme Court) clean-up mandate issued since 2017.
It must not be forgotten that the stability of this country hinges on the manner, form and conduct of elections. As elections are always a contentious affair, the possibility of parties challenging the results is always present. And in such instances, the Courts provide a forum where grievances can be heard and remedial action be taken if necessary.
But in cases where Judges/Justices appear to have become wedded to one party of a suit, in this case the state, and cease to be vessels for the outpouring of pure, undiluted, transparent and unfettered justice, the people lose hope, become frustrated and begin to take matters into their hands.
This is because it appears clear to all and sundry that Justice Yuoh’s decision to deny the Writ of Mandamus could trigger off a possible boycott of the elections by the CPP and thus render the results of said elections questionable and illegitimate. Already there are hints that the CPP may be prepared to consider such a course of action.
Historically, the law Courts of the land have always been there for the high and mighty, the movers and shakers of society, the noblesse obligé and never for the poor, defenseless and underprivileged in this land.
For example, the Supreme Court’s imposition of excessive fines of US$5,000 each for contempt on the Revelation editors in 1975 for its critical coverage of the libel case involving the high and mighty powerful Minister of Finance and brother of the President against the lowly, humble and uncompromising crusader for Justice, Albert Porte, stands out as a case in point.
And the reason for this is because the unlawfulness of that act, though cloaked in legal disguises, would, a little over a decade later, influence the introduction of provisions in the 1986 Constitution banning the imposition of excessive fines by courts in the land.
More recently was the impeachment trial of Associate Justice Kabineh J’aneh, presided over by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor who refused to recuse himself despite calls to do so.
The impeachment trial was widely condemned as bogus and a complete charade, a parody of blind justice so to speak. Justice Ja’neh is reported to have since taken an appeal to the ECOWAS Court.
More to that, several international Human Rights reports, including those of the U.S. State Department, have stated that the Liberian judiciary is corrupt, that justice is on sale to the highest bidder; in other words, the high and mighty, the movers and shakers the noblesse obligé.
In short, the proclaimed independence of the Courts appears to be nothing more than a farce because there can be no explanation why Justice Yuoh would refuse to grant the Writ of Mandamus seeking to have the Court enforce its own decision to have NEC clean-up the VR.
This is particularly important given the growing tension arising from a corruption laden process and flawed conduct of the VRU. That tension is in the air and is growing by the day is an understatement. It remains unclear at this point how the full Bench of the Supreme Court will handle the matter granted the CPP does appeal Justice Yuoh’s decision.
Well, the Liberian public awaits with bated breaths to see just what the final outcome will be from the sitting of the full Bench on the matter. Justices are urged to be mindful of the fact that the future peace and stability of this nation rests squarely on their shoulders, on the quality of decisions they make.
They could choose to become complicit in what is, from all indications, a corrupt and heavily flawed electoral process intended to secure victory for the ruling party and risk widespread confusion and chaos, or they could choose to be transparent, unbiased and coldly neutral in the application of the law and, as a result, keep the nation peaceful and stable.
Meanwhile, echoes of violence perpetrated by criminal thuggish elements, threats of the use of excessive force to quell public protests likely to arise from the flawed conduct of the December 8 elections continue to fill the air.
But those harboring intent to perpetrate such politically motivated violence to induce general fear intended to cow the people into submission should remember that when rain falls from the sky it falls on everyone, on every roof, not on select persons or select roofs only.
They should not forget also that within less than two decades the Liberian people have shaken off their backs two bloody dictators and will certainly shake off their backs anyone or leader attempting to rule this country by fiat.
Now the Liberian people know that popular mass action, rather than prolonged violent armed struggle has, from experience, shown to be the least costly way to shake off tinpot dictators and unpopular governments. The experience of Burkina Faso and Mali, both West African nations, provide instructive lessons in this regard. For now, it is ALL EYES ON THE SUPREME COURT OF LIBERIA, as she labors in painful childbirth.