“Enough is Enough” -CPP Speaks On Samukai’s Certification Issue -Says NEC Is Without Competence to Deliver On Mandate

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Contending that “Enough is enough”, the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has been speaking on what it refers to as ‘political collusion against the Rule of Law, the continued Corruption of the Judiciary, and the Lack of Independence of the National Elections Commission, saying “For the CPP and all well-meaning Liberians, it is unacceptable.”

In a statement read by the Chairperson of the mainstream opposition bloc, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence, the CPP said “The NEC is not without blame in this collusion. We are aware that the electoral body which itself declared Senator-elect Samukai as winner contrived to delay the clear and unambiguous decision of the Honorable Supreme Court to proceed to certificate [the Lofa County Senator-elect, Brownie J. Samukai].

The coalition of opposition parties said this contrivance has not only denied the people of Lofa the fullness in representation [at the House of Senate] to which they are entitled like all other counties  of the Republic, but has also, once again, compelled the CPP to draw into reasonable question, the constitutionally-required independence and autonomy of the NEC.

“We are forced to conclude that the current composition of the NEC is without the capacity nor competence to deliver on its constitutional mandate to conduct free, fair and credible public elections in our country void of political interference,” Senator Lawrence said.

The duty to protect our democracy, the Senator noted, is not one the CPP takes lightly. “Commitment to the rule of law is not one we will accept that anyone or group can either trivialize, or elect to disregard when it does not conform to their selfish political interests,” the CPP’s Chairperson warned.

The opposition leader asserted for the coalition therefore, “we announce today that we stand with the Supreme Court in a call for the full enforcements of both of its final decisions – the first to finally determine guilt and the satisfactory punishment therefor, and the second to finally determine the winner in the Midterm Senatorial Elections in Lofa County, as well as the attendant instructions to proceed to certificate the winner, Senator-elect Brownie J. Samukai, without further delays.”

To the best of their abilities,  Senator Lawrence who is also the political leader of the CPP said, the coalition will strongly resist, by a combination of political and legal actions, any nefarious effort to undermine the rule of law by cherry-picking decisions of the nation’s highest court that are enforceable, and thereby risk the country’s peace, security and democracy.

“Let it be known that the CPP stands with the gallant men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia who must be justly reimbursed as directed by the highest court. Similarly, we stand with the people of Lofa County whose overwhelming election of a senator of their choice is without legal dispute and has been finally determined by the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia,” she accentuated.

The CPP, and all well-meaning Liberians, she maintained, cannot afford to stand idly by and watch the slaughter of the soul of our democracy. “Our duty to act is one we consider to be nationally compelling. Liberia cannot simply claim to be democratic, and at the same time, permit the actions of our courts and democratic institutions to bend the rule of law selectively, out of convenience, or be engaged in lawless behavior,” the tough talking leader of the CPP further warned.

Saying it is also true that those into whose hands we have entrusted the power to govern democratically will not likely do so without our willingness to continuously ensure that they respect the laws of our country, Senator Lawrence stressed that the painful fact is that too many in our country have suffered, bled and died for the creation of a democratic order in Liberia.

“We are deeply concerned that if allowed to go unchecked, the current infantile maneuvers and political collusions will grow to seriously threaten our democracy, the authority of the Constitution, and thereby, risk the peace and security of the Republic,” she averred.

She sounded a caveat: Today, therefore, let the word go forth that the CPP will resist the continued corruption of our courts, and the continued use and/or abuse of our judiciary to the detriment of our country’s peace, security and stability.

She furthered, “As already indicated, we are commencing a number of political and legal actions against the continued abuse and corrosion of the independence and autonomy of the National Elections Commission, and have instructed the membership of our legislative caucus to begin the drafting of electoral reforms intended to address evolving issues in the qualification of candidates as well as protect the expressed will of the people in choosing their leaders, in a timely and credible manner that is not disruptive to the normal flow of government activities and functions.”

The CPP Chairperson emphasized that the duty to protect our democracy is not one the CPP takes lightly, stressing that commitment to the rule of law is not one we will accept that anyone or group can either trivialize, or elect to disregard when it does not conform to their selfish political interests.

She therefore announced on behalf of the CPP that “we announce today that we stand with the Supreme Court in a call for the full enforcements of both of its final decisions – the first to finally determine guilt and the satisfactory punishment therefor, and the second to finally determine the winner in the Midterm Senatorial Elections in Lofa County, as well as the attendant instructions to proceed to certificate the winner, Senator-elect Brownie J. Samukai, without further delays.

The CPP, to the best of it abilities, vowed to  will strongly resist, by a combination of political and legal actions, any nefarious effort to undermine the rule of law by cherry-picking decisions of the nation’s highest court that are enforceable, and thereby risk the country’s peace, security and democracy.

“Let it be known that the CPP stands with the gallant men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia who must be justly reimbursed as directed by the highest court. Similarly, we stand with the people of Lofa County whose overwhelming election of a senator of their choice is without legal dispute and has been finally determined by the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia,” Senator Karngar-Lawrence intimated.

The CPP Chair indicated that the collaboration and all well-meaning Liberians cannot afford to stand idly by and watch the slaughter of the soul of our democracy. “Our duty to act is one we consider to be nationally compelling. Liberia cannot simply claim to be democratic, and at the same time, permit the actions of our courts and democratic institutions to bend the rule of law selectively, out of convenience, or be engaged in lawless behavior.”

She said it is also true that those into whose hands we have entrusted the power to govern democratically will not likely do so without our willingness to continuously ensure that they respect the laws of our country, adding that the painful fact is that too many in our country have suffered, bled and died for the creation of a democratic order in Liberia.

“We are deeply concerned that if allowed to go unchecked, the current infantile maneuvers and political collusions will grow to seriously threaten our democracy, the authority of the Constitution, and thereby, risk the peace and security of the Republic,” she averred.

Commencing their statement, Chairperson Lawrence said the Collaborating Political Parties are compelled to draw attention to serious ongoing threats to Liberia’s peace, security and democracy. This, again, is being manifested by the failure to adhere to the rule of law, the continued corruption of the courts, and political interference in the works of the National Elections Commission (NEC).

She indicated that Liberians will recall that on February 8, 2021, the Honorable Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia entered final Judgment against Mr. J. Brownie Samukai, Former Minister of Defense and two others, adding that in that Judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed, with modification, the guilty judgment reached by the trial court, and declared in its final judgment as follows:

“The appellants are all hereby sentenced to serve a term of two years each in a common jail. However, the sentences shall be suspended provided the appellants shall restitute the full amount of US$1,147.656.35 (One Million One Hundred Forty Seven Thousand Six Hundred Fifty Six 35/100 United States Dollars) or fifty percent thereof within six months and thereafter enter appropriate arrangements to pay the remaining portion in one calendar year. Shall the appellants fail or refuse to restitute as stated above, then and in that case, they shall be incarcerated in the common jail and remain therein until the full amount is paid or liquidated at the rate of US$25.00 per month as provided for by law.”

Acting as the final arbiter [of justice], the nation’s highest court determined the above-cited punishment to be final, sufficient and satisfactory to address and remedy the judgment of guilt – nothing more, and nothing less, according to Senator Karngar Lawrence.

Despite the undercurrent of political interference in this and other matters, the CPP has continued to accept the final and binding authority of the courts, on all persons and groups, she disclosed, noting that the CPP continues to obey the courts not because the collaboration believes them to be incorruptible and free from the Executive’s reach of political interference.

“We continue to do so knowing it to be in the best interests of our country’s peace, security and democracy, all of the preservation of which is tied to the preservation of the rule of law,” she stated.

Accordingly, she said the CPP understands that the rule of law is always undermined  to the detriment of a nation when either a government, individual or group acts in defiance of, or believe they can choose, based on friendship, partisanship or in furtherance of narrow political interests, which decisions of the courts to obey, and which to not. “At the heart of our commitment to preserve the rule of law must always be our shared willingness to enforce the final judgments and decisions of the courts. This guarantees the availability of justice to all persons ensuring the peace, security and democratic health of a nation,” she said.

Honorable Supreme Court finally decided on February 8, 2023 the winner of the December 2020 Mid-term Senatorial Elections in Lofa County, she recalled. “In its final decision, the full bench of the court instructed the National Elections Commission to proceed to certificate the winner, Mr. Brownie J. Samukai who was overwhelmingly elected by the people of Lofa County. The right of a people to freely and fairly choose their representatives is the essence of democratic governance without which the inherent power of the people is dangerously subverted,” she added.

Furthermore, where legal challenges to the outcome of an election is conclusively determined by the highest court; for the instructed electoral body to refuse to enforce the final decision and instruction of the court to proceed to certificate, as the NEC has decided to defiantly do, undermines the rule of law, and denies the people of Lofa their right to their choice of representative, she pointed out.

Senator Karngar Lawrence said shockingly, to realize their unconstitutional conspiracy against the people of Lofa County, the Movement for Progress Change (MPC), a moribund political party, petitioned the court through Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, the Justice in Chambers, to prohibit the enforcement of the final decision of the full bench of the highest court.

The MPC’s petition, she said, is not only without legal basis, but it offers no legal precedence nor does it cite any legal reliance for its claim. “Even on the face of these blatant legal defects, Associate Justice Nagbe, acting apparently on instructions from the Executive, illegally, unprecedentedly and singularly issued an order to stay the enforcement of the final decision of the full bench, a decision to which he is a member-justice, signatory, and participated in deciding,” the CPP barked

The collaborating political parties maintained that indeed, these are ominous signs for 2023 and the continued consolidation of our young democracy. “The MPC collusion which is aided and abetted by Associate Justice Nagbe strikes a fatal blow at the heart of our democracy and its promise to the people to freely and fairly elect their leaders, while dangerously undermining the rule of law and the authority of the Liberian Constitution that all powers are inherent in the people, the greatest of which is the right to choose their leaders and representatives,” the senator further stressed.

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