20 October 2017

Liberia: Liberty Party Appeals Dismissed in Electoral Violation Case in Lofa County

Kolahun — Ahead of the pending runoff election, the opposition Liberty Party has appealed the ruling of the National Election Commission which dismissed three complaints brought before its magistrate in Lower Lofa County.

The complaints were dismissed on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 by NEC hearing officer Daniel D. Dolokelen.

Complainant Ambulleh Kanneh, representing the Liberty Party filed three complaints with the NEC local office citing several electoral violations allegedly committed by the incumbent representative of electoral district #3 Clarence Massaquoi.

In his complaint, Kanneh accused Representative Massaquoi of allegedly campaigning from town to town on the eve of Election Day in electoral district 4.

Kanneh also accused NEC polling officials at the Lukasu polling precinct of reportedly denying hundreds of voters from voting and at the same time accused the Presiding Officer (an alleged supporter of Rep Massaquoi) of prematurely closing the poling center even though eligible voters were still in queues to vote.

Kanneh alleged that the voting precinct was located in the stronghold of Mr. Momo Siafa Kpoto, a candidate of the same electoral district, contesting on the ticket of the Liberty Party.

In another complainant, Kanneh noted that a the youth leader of Kolahun district Mr. Momoh Kanneh, a diehard supporter of Rep Massaquoi was arrested with a large number of voting card which he allegedly districted to several persons to vote in favor of Rep Massaquoi.

The LP in its complaint called on the NEC to carry out a rerun of the election at the Lukasu polling precinct.

Meanwhile, after hearing the case between the complainant and defendant, the NEC dismissed the case for what it called insufficiency of evidence to establish undue influence or any other form of violations of the laws of Liberia.

In her bill of exception in the full Board of the Election Commissioners, Liberty Party contended that the hearing officer committed reversible error when he ignored the contention of the petition that the case be transferred out of electoral district three due to threaten remark and insecurity of the party's witness by supporters of Clarence Massaquoi and that the ruling of the hearing officer is contrary to and against the weight and the evidence produced at the hearing.

The LP bill of exception reads: "Petitioner submits that during the argument, you were informed by our first and second witness that Clarence Massaquoi was in Boawohun holding meeting with certain group of people on Sunday and the eve of election holding discussion residents there and unduly influencing them not to turn out to vote and this was not denied by any of the defendant witnesses"

The LP further revealed that the hearing officer committed reversible error by when he deviated from the issue that Hon Massaquoi visited Boawohun, Bondowalahun and Lukasu on the 9th and 10th of October and each of our three witnesses testimony in chief speak to Clarence Massaquoi present in each of these towns on both 9th and 10th of October and had meeting with eminent citizens in those towns.

The LP said the testimonies of these witnesses point to the exact date of the defendant present in each of these towns and his activities.

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