The Supreme Court will today make an important decision in the case Karmo vs. Snowe on whether Representative Edwin Snowe has done anything illegal by venturing into a territory that has been under the administration of Representative S. Gaya Karmo. While we do not intend to make an opinion on the case, there are certain facts that have come to our knowledge that we think the public deserves to know.
It is no secret that the financially potent Rep. Snowe has over the past 12 years amassed enough leverage and influence to help him win certain positions that he has at one point or another ventured into. We recall that he once held the position as speaker of the House of Representatives and is a two-term representative of Montserrado County District #6, which he apparently no longer holds (since a year ago). We are honestly not sure what might have happened to his district (Mont District #6), for Rep. Snowe to eventually decide to travel further afield. Maybe Snowe realized some challenges that Rep. Karmo might have been facing in his district and decided to move his armada there to turn things around.
But since both Reps. Snowe and Karmo are birds of the same feather, it could have been necessary if they made an alliance before, if at all necessary, for one of them to drive into each other’s territory, which we think could have avoided any recrimination, as is going on now.
Though we don’t doubt Snowe’s sincerity for venturing into Sinje, since reports coming from there suggest the presence of tangible developments; and as we write this, he has become a hero among some of the people of Sinje who now see Rep. Karmo as a villain.
But we observe with interest the manner in which Rep. Snowe bulldozed his way into the backyard of Rep. Karmo and we can bet that what has happened in the county and the people’s appreciation for Rep. Snowe has been a surprise to his opponent. While this development may have a positive side, since every part of this country needs development, it is the clever handling of his role in the whole affair leading to him winning the first legal battle, is what concerns us.
There can be no argument that development is what this country needs and therefore if any Liberian is interested in making the ultimate sacrifice to bring advancement to backward communities, then, of course, we should support him. However, when the desire for development is done contentiously then it will, of course, lead to disunity among the people, which we should be careful not to welcome.
We agree that, as was adjudged by the NEC Magistrate in Bomi County, there is no law that explicitly prohibits what Rep. Snowe is trying to do, and therefore we can understand the decision in his favor. But now that the Supreme Court is about to intervene, we are a little jittery about the decision that may be announced by the country’s highest court of justice. Our fear is based on the fact that without judging her professionalism, Judge Ceineh Yuoh, who might be one of the five justices that may likely hear the case, is Rep. Snowe’s wife.
Behind every successful man, we are told, is a successful woman, and therefore we are convinced that there is no wife on this earth that would not wish her husband well in his endeavors. Yet, in the practice of jurisprudence, we understand that Justice Youh (Snowe) would need to recuse herself from participating in the Karmo vs Snowe decision for obvious reasons.
We also want to point out that Judge Yuoh is one of the three justices that voted in favor of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the controversial Code of Conduct (COC).
So there are two matters of precedence at play here.
First is the matter of what Rep. Snowe is trying to achieve, which has never happened or even been considered before in Liberia’s history, to our knowledge. That is, a sitting member of the house of representatives, who leaves the district that elected him to declare domicile in a district of another county where he intends to seek election – all this while still sitting as a representative of the district he is no longer domiciled in. He technically abandoned his legal place in Montserrado District #6, while still reaping the benefits thereof, it can be argued.
Secondly, the initial slew of rejections of certain political aspirants by the NEC is now under the purview of the Supreme Court, for deliberation, in the form of appeals filed by the affected parties, raising issues with the controversial Code of Conduct. While the High Court has already upheld the Code of Conduct as law, the new appeals brought before it are grounds for more incisive interpretation of the clauses on which NEC has held against the appealing parties.
Both decisions will no doubt have lasting impacts on the conduct of presidential and general elections all over Liberia.
Far be it from us to insinuate that the decision in one instance would have any obvious or hidden influence over the other. Far be it from us to imagine that one decision might be considered to serve a lesser good than the other and thus be reduced to an object of the political transaction. We may never know. But at the same time, far be it from us to think that the Supreme Court is perfect.
We simply feel that we owe our people a chance to know and understand the dynamics that exist in the context of these appeals that are before the Supreme Court. We trust in the ability of the Supreme Court to interpret the law with reverence for the Constitution and the patriotic foresight to uphold the reign peace and the forward march of a more perfect democracy in Liberia.