-As Final Verdict Would Be Hand Down Today
By: R Joyclyn Wea
The hearing officer of the National Elections Commission (NEC) is expected to on today Friday, February 23, 2018 make final determination into an action of a motion to dismiss filed before it’s by lawyers representing the interest of Former Vice President Joseph Boakai and Wilmot Paye, Secretary General of the former ruling establishment.
This motion to dismiss grows out of complaint of wrongful expulsion and violation of the UP constitution as well as the Liberian constitution.
This petition was filed with the NEC body by some aggrieved National Executive Committee Members of Unity Party including Patrick Worzie, Secretary General, and ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf among others.
Section 2.9 of the amended election law gives the NEC specific function as regards to the conduct of activities leading to elections in Liberia.
The hearing officer of the NEC obtained arguments from both parties in these proceeding and set today Friday, February 23, 2018 to hand down final verdict into the respondents motion to dismiss as per procedures in this jurisdiction, before proceeding into the main sued.
“The hearing officer has entertained argument on the motion before it and revised or suspend ruling into said motion. This matter would be resuming on Friday, February 23, 2018 at about 3PM at which time ruling into the motion would be deliver,” NEC hearing officer stated.
The petitioners in their petition are contesting among other things illegal expulsion and violation of the Unity Party constitution as well as Article 20(a) and 79(e) of the constitution of Liberia.
At the call of the case, legal team for Respondents (Boakai and Paye) in these proceeding filed a 23 count motion to dismiss thus praying the NEC board to dismiss the petition and grant unto respondents any other further relief as in such matters as provided by law.
During the argument, lead lawyers of the Sherman and Sherman law firm, Cllr. Albert Sims argued that the NEC board, as an administrative agency, is a creature statute warrant for the exercise of any authority which it claims and as such it has no general power or common-law power but only such which has been conferred upon it expressly by law.
Based on the general principle of law, the commission has no power and authority to determine the membership of a political party as no such power is expressly conferred upon it by the new elections law Cllr. Sims asserted.
Accordingly, the power to determine who is eligible to be a member of a political party and who shall be or remain a member of a political party is an inherent power that the political party itself has and the party has the right to exercise that power without any judicial intervention or other external intervention, such as intervention by the NEC board, he lamented.
it is pursuant to such general principle of law that article VIII, section 4 of the constitution of the unity party provides that the decision to remove a member from office “shall be final and binding, not subject to review by any other authority organ of the party the respondent counsel stated further.
Respondent counsel provided additional reasons why the petitioners petition should be dismissed contesting that there are procedures and institutions to address grievances of the party members.
Article VII, section 4 of unity party constitution states that “in the event of the violation or deprivation of any right or entitlement vested in a member of the unity party by this the constitution and or the bylaws such aggrieved member may report such violation or deprivation to the national coordinating committee, which shall promptly investigate and take every necessary measure to remedy the grievance.”
While the lead defend counsel for ex-president Sirleaf, Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi noted that technicality is not applicable to the matter before the hearing officer unless in the court of competent jurisdiction and prayed the NEC hearing officer not to dismiss the matter as the proceeding is for investigation and fact findings .
“Technicalities applied at the court of law and do not applied to the instant case. The aggrieve parties were not cited and giving due process,” he alleged.
Cllr. Massaquoi further prays the hearing officer to proceed with the investigation in order to make determination as to whether or not the rights of these individuals were violated.
There was no investigation conducted prior to the expulsion of these party officials and due process were not accorded them to established whether indeed they were guilty of the crime accused which is also a violation of the petitioners rights Cllr. Massaquoi bewailed.