20 November 2017

Liberia: UP Gets Legal Blow

Unity Party legal team last Friday suffered legal blow at the Supreme Court when the High Court denied the party's Bill of Information filed before it.

The Party legal team during last week filed a Bill of Information before the Supreme Court to hold the National Elections Commission (NEC) in contempt for delaying to rule in an appeal filed before the Board of Commissioners for the releasing of the full addendum listings during the October 10 polls to the party.

However, in its ruling, the Full Bench through Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokolie said the Constitution of Liberia, specifically Article 83 (c) sets the time period of 30 days in which NEC is to hear and make determination in electoral matters.

She argued that if the Court were to set a specific date, as requested by the informants, it would be in contravention of the Constitution and the use of power not conferred upon it, adding "such action, this Court has consistently maintained is ultra vires."

Justice Wolokolie furthered that there is no need to hold NEC in contempt when the commission has not exceeded the time given it under the Constitution.

However, the Court reiterated its position that the electoral body does not have to consume the entire 30 days given it under the Constitution before concluding a given election matter.

Justice Wolokolie admonished the Elections Commission to proceed expeditiously with the investigation of election matters pending before it, considering the critical nature of elections cases and their implications on the governance of the nation.

The High Court also said it takes judicial notice that a ruling has been made by the Board of Commissioners of NEC on the informants' appeal before it, thus rendering the matter moot.

"Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, the Bill of Information is denied. The Clerk of this Court is ordered to inform the parties of this decision. And it is hereby so ordered," the High Court concluded.

It can be recalled that following the October 10 polls, Liberty Party filed a complaint to the National Elections Commission complaining about what it referred to as massive irregularities and frauds during the elections.

Though the commission did not complete the investigation, it announced the holding of the presidential runoff, something that made Liberty Party to file a Writ of Prohibition to the Supreme Court, which was granted.

The Commission was then ordered by the Court to complete investigation into Liberty Party's case before holding any runoff.

Following the Court's ruling, Unity Party decided to file for intervention to be a co-complainant to Liberty Party, a decision that was endorsed by the Board of Commissioners after NEC's Hearing Officer earlier denied the request.

Since then, the electoral body through its Hearing Officer has been investigating the matter and is yet to come down with ruling.

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