Special Awards In Pictures

-For The D-day As Justices Face The Toughest of Decision
At home and abroad, all eyes are now set on the Temple of Justice, the home of the Supreme Court of Liberia, where justices are expected to rule in Liberia’s post-conflict landmark electoral case upon which its fate is said to be lying.

If all goes as planned and reported, Thursday is the D-day Liberians and partners will get to know the outcome of the month-long legal hullaballoo against the outcome of the elections of October 10, for which the country is at a standstill.

As long expected, appellant and co-appellant Liberty Party and Unity Party proceeded to the Court, the arbiter of justice, in a bill of exception to the rulings of the National Election Commission in the electoral fraud case brought before it.
In October, few days after the final announcement of the results of the elections, Liberty Party filed complaints before hearing officer of the NEC against the conduct of the elections, alleging wild irregularities and fraud.
It was joined by the ruling Unity Party in what is now known as Liberia’s first major legal challenge to the outcome of an election in recent history.
Legal and political experts reckon it is a huge task before the justices of the Supreme Court, as their decision is pregnant with uncertainty, and some of whom the public is suspicious of, for alleged link to political parties.
The contenting parties are either calling for a runoff election or rerun, a decision the Court is likely to make based on the merit of the law.
Whatever decision is it could spark approbation and opposition in many quarters, with the possibility that others will view it from the angle of law and politics.
What makes the situation edgy is the deep suspicion many harbor for the judiciary that it is not often independent in its judgments.
As gathered by this paper, the court’s decision on the controversial code of conduct remains a poignant issue still hunting its credibility, for which many are weary of the current situation.
Most Liberians including some members of the international community are hoping for a runoff, craving the Supreme Court will not act ultra-virus.
Already, there are insinuations in some quarters that the court will rule in favor of a runoff election, but will call for purging of the electoral body to include the exclusion of Chairman Jerome Korkoya, whom most of the contentions surround.
This paper could not verify or confirm those insinuations which emerged few hours to the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter.
But a legal expert counter-argued such insinuations, saying it does not have any legal bearings to consider.
“The Court is only looking at the evidence or arguments propounded by the concerned parties; and its judgment will surround what is before it,” one legal expert who did not want to be named said.
“The issue of Korkoya’s exclusion is not part of the argument, so the Court will not make it a part of its ruling’; that will be farfetched, if it were.”
S/Court Reserved Ruling
Before the full bench of the Supreme Court, the Unity Party (UP), and Liberty Party (LP) on Friday December 1, 2017 strongly argued to justify why the Supreme Court should grant their requests in their Bill of Exceptions as it relates to Violation for Constitution and Elections Law, Fraudulent Acts and Gross Irregularities that allegedly befell the October 10 2017, elections.
On behalf of the Contending parties, Cllr Oswald Tweh argued that they have cited specific incident where gross irregularities occurred.
He told the Court that they were constrained to file the Writ of Prohibition because the NEC at that time did not entertain their complaint at the early stage for which the High Court granted the Prohibition and later the UP filed a motion to intervene.
“The Hearing Officer made several errors one of which caught our attention when he ruled indicating that the NEC is mandated to take the necessary steps to correct all what they alluded to as difficulties and challenges before any future election, without specifying what the challenges were,” he added.
Cllr. Tweh also argued the NEC Board made a reversible error by allowing the Chairman of NEC to preside over the final ruling of the Board of Commissioners.
He said they filed a motion for him to recuse himself but the Board denied it.
However, the Chief Justice Francis S Korkpor Sr. was concerned to how many persons signed the final ruling affirming the NEC Hearing officer’s ruling.
Cllr. Tweh told the High Court it was six persons that signed and affirmed the hearing officer ruling including Chairman Korkoya.
One of the Associate Justices was also concerned with the law governing the NEC Board of Commissioners.
Justice Kabineh Jan’eh quizzed Cllr. Tweh about the laws within that jurisdiction that says, “Any five (5) members, including the Chairman, shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business of the Commission; they shall decide any question before it, and said decision shall be binding on the Commission”, quoting section 2.6 of the New Elections law.
He said that chapter should be understood properly, because just in case the Chairman dies what happens next.
For Associate Justice Sie-Neh- Youh, she was concerned how Chairman Korkoya recusal scenario affected his party’s chance in the electoral process as it relates to its success.
In response to this, he said the fact that the Chairman publicized that they have no evidence, his siting to make any decision was prejudicial.
Also Cllr Benedict Sannoh argued on behalf of the Unity Party, stating that the evidence adduced by them showed that the NEC violated the rights of thousands of Liberians to vote on October 10,2017 because their names were not found on the final Voters’ Registration Roll (FRR).
On the other hand, the NEC legal counsel Cllr. Frank Musa Dean has argued “there appears to be a misconception by the UP, LP regarding what constitutes “publication of the Final Registration Roll”.
The NEC further told the Supreme Court “general registration roll for each registration center shall be opened for public inspection at the office of the magistrates of elections without a fee on any day in a week during the hours the office is open. A copy of each roll may be kept at such places as the Commission may designate for publication inspection” section 3.6 the New Elections law 1986.
At the time, NEC requested the Supreme Court to deny and dismiss the appeal and order a run-off.
During the argument some of the justices were concerned to know how many persons were entitled to register at a particular polling place.
Cllr. Dean said the NEC has registered 500 plus 50 spare ballots.
Following the arguments, the high court reserved ruling for this Thursday, December 7, 2017 but the chief justice Korkpor warmed the public and media against speculations over what the court decision or ruling would-be.

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