Liberia: CDC Files Bill of Exception

Lawyers representing Mr. Abu Kamara in the disputed District #15 Representative by-election have filed a bill of exception against the recent ruling which called for a rerun in the disputed electoral precincts.

Las week, the National Elections Commission or NEC Hearing Officer presiding over the electoral fraud case in the Montserrado County Electoral District #15 called for a rerun of the poll in all 20 quarantined centers within 10 working days.

Candidate Telia Urey of the four collaborating opposition political parties filed a formal complaint to the NEC, alleging fraud following the July 29 by-election in the district.

The four collaborating parties including the ex-ruling Unity Party of former Vice President Joseph NyumahBoakai; Liberty Party of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, Alternative National Congress of former corporate executive Alexander Cummings, and All Liberian Party of businessman-turned politician Benoni Urey supported Mr. Abraham Darious Dillon, who won the Montserrado senatorial seat, and Ms Urey for District#15.

Provisional results released by the NEC places Ms. Urey at 42.68 percent, ahead of CDC's Abu Kamara, 41.48 percent.

In his ruling Wednesday, 14 August at the heavily guarded NEC headquarters in Monrovia, Hearing Officer Cllr. Munah Ville said Ms. Urey could not adequately provide pictorial evidences to prove beyond reasonable doubt, that there were discrepancies.

The collaborating parties claimed about 15 polling places were tempered with and that observers were threw out while the counting of ballots were reportedly done by poll workers NEC.But the lawyers say, the hearing officer erroneously ignored and refused to consider certain relevant and material evidence adduced during the investigation as fact finder.

"Defendant say the said illegal, erroneous, prejudicial and bias ruling is a fit subject for a reversal because the evidence you disregarded have the tendency to change your holding on the questions of "annulment of the aforesaid election result," the lawyers wrote in their bill of exception filed Friday August 16, 2019.

The lawyers argued that the hearing officer also committed a reversible error when he denied a submission made by Mr. Kamara to strike out an amended complaint filed by Ms. Urey.The lawyers further argued among other things that Cllr. Ville also erred when he refused to strike out the entire testimony of Ms. Urey, which were primarily based on hearsay.

The lawyers also indicated that their client did not have the opportunity to examine the makers of those out of court statement that the hearing officer erroneously allowed Ms. Urey to recite at the hearing. For this, the lawyers also say it's a reversible error.

The hearings into the complaints, which affect 20 polling places in Montserrado District#15, started on August 7, 2019 at the NEC Headquarters.

Following the conduct of the By-election in the District on July 29, 2019, two of the seven candidates, Telia Urey of the ALP and Independent Candidate Bishop Frank, complained against the NEC for "several irregularities", which they claim amounts to electoral "fraud".

NEC immediately quarantined results from the affected 20 Polling places and launched an immediate investigation into the matter through its Hearing Office. Over the period of the hearings, the Petitioners, led by lead counsel LavalaSupuwood, presented 14 witnesses, while the Respondent, NEC, represented by Atty. TeegeJalloh, produced six witnesses. Jonathan Massaquoi was the lead counsel for the interveners.

The Petitioners' 14 witnesses included candidates Telia Urey and Bishop Frank, while NEC's six witnesses included its Data Center and Training Directors Floyd Sayor and James Wallace, respectively.

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