NEC Rejects Nyonblee’s Plea Against Bility, Others -Recognizes Bility leadership, 2021 constitution

MONROVIA – The National Elections Commission (NEC) has rejected the plea from Senator Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence and others seeking the dismissal of the complaint filed by the National Executive Committee of the Liberty Party through the National Chairman Mr. Musa Hassan Bility against several members of the party for fraudulently representing themselves as LP officials, using the party’s name in public communications and purporting to be authorized to act or speak on behalf of the LP.

According to a press release issued by the party yesterday, February 21, 2022, signed and approved by Martin Kollah, Secretary General and Musa Hassan Bility, National Chairman, in their motion to dismiss filed on February 16, 2022, respondent’s lawyers advanced two arguments, that the Complaint was illegal as there was no link between the Complainant and Respondent and the Complainant lacked legal capacity and standing to bring the Complaint since they had been “expelled and suspended”; and that the Commission lacked jurisdiction to hear the Complaint brought by the Plaintiff since the Commission’s Board had already ruled in the matter regarding the LP Constitution.

Having given background to the case, the release gave an insight of what the electoral body ruled in their favor.

“As regards the issue of Standing, the Commission opined that the authority under which the Complaint was filed is legitimate. The Commission referred the Respondent to its previous rulings of August and December 2021 and January 2022, in which the Commission confirmed and affirmed the validity of 2021 LP Constitution, until successfully challenged in a court of law or amended by the LP through Convention. Such a successful challenge having not been completed, the Commission confirmed that the Complainant, acting under the authority of the 2021 LP Constitution, has legal standing.

“As regards the issue of the Jurisdiction of the Hearing Officer to hear matters that the Commission’s Board has previously ruled on, the Commission stated that a thorough review of records and communications between all parties, and the Commission’s Board opinion stated in the January 10, 2021 letter, confirmed presumability of the validity of the LP 2021 Constitution and agreed with Respondent that the Hearing Officer has no jurisdiction to hear a case on the LP Constitution. The Commission, however, noted that the matter before the Hearing Officer is not a matter of Constitution, but rather an allegation of unauthorized and fraudulent representation by certain individuals purporting to be LP officials and a prayer to enjoin them from this action”, the release said.

Providing more information on the ruling the release said that the Commission sustained the Petitioner’s motion to deny the Movant’s/ Respondent Motion to Dismiss and denied the Movant’s/Respondent Motion to Dismiss. The release further stated that the Movant’s/Respondent lawyers excepted and announced an appeal to the Board of Commission to which the Commission took notice. “The Hearing Officer ordered the trial to proceed in the matter of the Complaint before it. While in the process of Petitioner witness qualification, Movant’s/Respondent lawyers asked for adjournment because he had another case in Debt Court and had come to the Hearing with the expectation that their Motion would be upheld and is not prepared for trial. He requested trial to begin on Wednesday, February 22, 2022”, the release said.

Continuing further, the release said that the Plaintiff’s lawyer did not resist the request, but noted that the justification for the request was weak. He cautioned Movant’s/Respondent lawyers to take care not to delay the matter unnecessarily because they have three (3) lawyers of record in this case and therefore the engagement of one (1) of them should not hinder the process. He also cautioned the Movant/Respondent to ensure that their lawyers are prepared for trial as they have had more than enough time to prepare.

“We are pleased that the Commission ruled in this manner. This ruling finally lays to rest any question or doubt as to the validity of the January 2021 LP Convention, the constitutional authority given to officers elected at the January 2021 LP Convention, and the validity of the January 2021 LP Constitution. We look forward to moving on with the Complaint and bringing a definitive halt to the unauthorized actions by certain members of the LP purporting to be LP officials. The National Executive Committee is calling on all LP partisans to remain calm as we navigate this time and for supporters of both sides to come together as there is only one Liberty Party,” said Musa Hassan Bility, National Chairmen of the Liberty Party.

“The Commission’s ruling was just and reinforced that the National Executive Committee officials elected during the January 2021 LP Convention are the persons recognized by the Commission, through the 2021 LP Constitution, to act on behalf of the LP,” said Cllr. Powo C. Hilton, LP Vice Chair for Legal Affairs who also served as Counsel for Complainant in the matter.

The Liberty Party said that it was also  dismayed by the Unity Party’s (UP) recent withdrawal from the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and appalled that the UP did not even extend the courtesy of informing the other constituent Political Parties of the CPP before submitting its decision to the Commission. It said while it is the UP’s prerogative to withdraw from the CPP, the LP believes that this decision by UP is a huge injustice to the CPP, specifically, and the opposition community, generally, and only serves to make it more difficult to realize the goals and objectives set forth in the CPP Framework Document (FD), adding that the constituent Political Parties signed the CPP FD, which gave hope to the Liberian people, and promised to work together to bring about national change.

“At a time when it is critical to put aside individual agendas and push forth collective efforts to uphold the tenets and spirit of the CPP FD and deliver the country from the outright failures of the current administration, the justification given for the withdrawal by the UP is unmerited and untenable. Consequently, the LP will engage its leadership and partners in the CPP in an effort to determine the roadmap for moving forward. The LP notes, however, that its statement is without prejudice to any legal actions or remedies under the law as regards the UP withdrawal”, the statement concluded.

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