NEC Reserves Ruling in Speaker Chambers’ Election Fraud Case -Victorious Candidate’s Lawyers Trash Chamber’s Bill of Exception
MONROVIA: The winner of Maryland District # 2 remains technically undecided as one of the contestants, incumbent Representative and House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, prays for a relook at the results which put his opponent Anthony F. Williams in the driver’s seat.
Following arguments in the matter, the chairperson of the National Elections Commission, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, announced that the NEC board reserved ruling on the case and both parties will be informed of the time for the ruling.
Board of Commission of the National Elections Commission (NEC) started a hearing into the complaint filed by the Bhofal Chambers charging election violations against him at the Old Sodoken Voting Precinct 27020.
Chambers legal team on October 29 appeared before the Board to defend its bill of exception before the NEC board of commissioners, alleging that two of his poll watchers–Joseph Hodge and Stephen Russell– representing all CDC candidates in both the Presidential and General Elections were asked out of the hall.
But the James Fromoyan conference hall was a scene of laughter when lawyers representing the Chambers appeared nervous before the NEC board of commissioners and couldn’t provide material evidence to substantiate their allegations. Some suggested that the Chambers lawyers were arguing on hearsay which some members of the commission frowned at and warned the appellant lawyers for.
When asked by one of the commissioners, Hon. Barsee Leo Kpangbai, as to what exactly Hon. Chambers’ bill of exception was seeking to address since the complaint has no pray or specific request before the NEC Board of Commissioners, Chambers’ legal team answered as “we are now praying before your honored by our mouth”.
The Commissioner’s question was, “So, what do you want this board of commissioners to do, because you didn’t pray for anything in this bill of exception, and again, what is the name of the old man you mentioned that was present at the precinct?”.
Responding to the complaint filed by Speaker Chambers before the NEC Board of Commissioner, Mr. Anthony F. Williams’ legal team asked the NEC Board to dismiss the case because, according to them, it lacked merit as the beginning of the process had fundamental flaw.
The law says, according to the defense lawyers, when the final result is announced, a dissatisfied candidate should file in his/her complaint within seven (7) days—but in the case with Chambers, the complaint was prematurely filed outside of the legal timeframe.
“Your honored commissioners, these [Chambers’] lawyers are behaving like waterside lawyers. Or they are on a fishing expedition because they haven’t prayed to you with specificity as regards what they want,” said Cllr. Moifee Kanneh who leads the defendant’s lawyers.
Furthermore, Rep-elect Anthony F. Williams’ legal counsel asserted that Chambers contested on a party (CDC) ticket and his party agents satisfied the results, both senatorial and presidential, and refused to sign the representative because candidate Chambers didn’t win the center/precinct.
“If he had won the precinct, he wouldn’t have challenged it,” said the lawyer.
Mr. Williams’ lawyers avowed, that Article 83(c) of the Constitution provides that “the returns of the elections shall be declared by the Elections Commission not later than fifteen days after the casting of ballots. Any party or candidate who complains about the manner in which the elections were conducted or who challenges the results thereof shall have the right to file a complaint with the Elections Commission.
“Such complaint must be filed not later than seven days after the announcement of the results of the elections,” he said further.
In a 3-page return filed by the defendant/candidate Williams’ legal team, the NEC Magistrate acted in keeping with the law, because the Commission was first required to ensure the results are announced not later than fifteen days.
The announcement of results takes precedence over the filing and hearing of complaints about the manner in which the elections were conducted or the challenge posed to the result thereof, the defense lawyer added.
“It should be noted that the framers of the Constitution were aware of the risk a delay in hearing cases may pose to the announcement of results and, thus formation of the government, to achieve other constitutional dates,” he said. “In the instant case, Appellee says the investigation was suspended by the Magistrate to be entertained after the announcement of the results.”
After the lengthy argument between the opposing lawyers, the Board of NEC reserved the ruling, promising to notify the parties in due time.