Steve Zargo Chides Bility, NEC -Says NEC Offered ‘Springboard for Bility’s Illegal Convention’

Members of the public who might have doubted the comeback of Lofa County Senator Steve Zargo as Chairperson of the opposition Liberty Party on account of the way he was disfavored and treated at the party’s January 2021 convention must be mistaken. Mr. Zargo is back, at least one of two sides of the party managed by embattled Political Leader Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence.

For the first time since he was recalled to the chair of the party by Madam Karnga Lawrence, the Lofa County Senator appeared in public December 22, 2021, using a well-parked press conference to leaf through the intractable conflict that has engulfed the Liberty Party since his ouster in January, and laying the blame for emerging conflicts in the party squarely on his successor, Chairman Bility, and a member of the National Elections Commission.

Re-accepting LP Chairmanship

Senator Zargo formally accepted the Chairman of the Liberty Party. In a statement, he declared: “Madam Political Leader, following a careful review of the problems that confront our party in just less than one year, and with an introspection of the duty to which Liberty Party is called, I hereby reaffirm my acceptance of our party’s decision asking me to assume the position of National Chairman pending a meeting of stakeholders to decide the future of our party.”

He said the intensity of conspiracy by “the convergence of a few people who represent the forces of darkness upon our democracy, has never been so clearly pronounced than what we have today.” According to him, Liberia and its people are facing one of the most difficult periods in charting a new course of democracy and respect for rule of law.

“Sadly today, the Liberty Party, a party founded by a patriotic Liberian with enviable legal credentials and resounding value in integrity, is being used as a channel to destroy the Liberian people’s emerging daybreak to a new order of democracy and prosperity,’ Zargo added: “But I say to you that a people determined to change their bruising conditions do not get deterred by people who conform to evil as a normal way of life.”

“It all started one year ago,” he reflected. “Mr. Bility had maneuvered his way through the different structures of Liberty Party to present himself as a partisan who had an honest desire to contribute to the progressive development of LP.

“We made our case regarding his standing to be the face of our party, but the exigency of time and of season, prevailed. A Special Convention was held, however wrongly, where the party’s Constitution was amended, and election of new national officers was held. Eventually, the man who presented himself as a partisan who was determined to improve on what he met, was elected as National Chairman.”

But, according to him, in keeping with the Rules and Regulations of the NEC   governing the affairs of political institution, and rightly so for transparency, the proceedings of the convention (minutes, the amended instrument, etc.) should have been presented to the presiding officer or a review board appointed by the presiding officer, to ensure that all amendments agreed by delegates at the convention, were incorporated in the final document.

He added: “Despite several requests by the Presiding Officer and Political Leader to   Mr. Bility and Mr. Martian Kollah, both of whom had been elected at the Convention as Chairman and Secretary General respectively, this never occurred. Without undergoing this necessary review process and without the authorization of the presiding officer, these newly elected officers proceeded to probate the document and to submit same to NEC.”

Holding NEC Co-Chair Liable

He frowned on the decision of the Co-chair of NEC, Cllr. Teeplah Reeves, who according to him, on behalf of the NEC, upheld the validity of an already withdrawn Constitution which was withdrawn on grounds of fraud.

“By the action of the Co-Chair, a springboard was created upon which Mr. Bility launched his illegal convention. This is an embarrassing situation not only for Liberty Party, but also for all peace loving and law-abiding democracy lovers,” Senator Zargo lamented.

He said the decision in the first place ignores a general principal of Law accepted by all associations that a Quorum is required for the transaction of businesses.

Senator Zargo claimed that the Report of the Special Investigating Committee established that there was no Quorum at the January 22-24, 2021, Special Convention and as such all decisions emanating therefrom are null and void and have no legal effect.

“The Decision of Commissioner Reeves is again illegal because it denies the Political Leader and all parties to the Azango Complaint the due process of Law in accordance with the Election Laws and the Constitution of Liberia,” he noted. “Neither the Party nor its Political Leader is aware of a subsequent complaint against the decision of the Special Investigating Committee. In the event a complaint existed, the complaint would be subject to a hearing before a hearing officer and subsequently to a Board of Commissioners sitting in its Judicial Review Capacity if necessary.”

But Senator Zargo said Commissioner Reeves did not have the legal capacity to make such a decision without the full participation of the other six members of the Commission.

“In accordance with a recent Supreme Court Decision (Harrison Kanwea et al v. NEC et al, decided 2017) which requires a majority of the Commissioners to constitute a quorum for NEC to sit in its Judicial Review Capacity,” he claimed further. “But the decision, while illegal is effectively a decision of the Board of Commissioners sitting in its Judicial Review Capacity and has been used as the basis upon which Mr. Bility and his cohorts have used to stage the special convention.”

He added: “The decision must be recalled not only in quest of impartiality, fairness and transparency, but also because if it is not recalled, it will effectively undermine the judicial character and capacity of the NEC.   Additionally, the public confidence in the work of NEC will dissipate and the credibility of the Commission will be shredded as a result of one Commissioner and failure of the Board of Commissioners to take corrective action.”

He called upon the NEC to recall the letter and denounce the convening of the so-called Special National Convention organized by Mr. Bility in quest of impartiality, fairness, and transparency and in accordance with Law.

“With the power restored in me as Chairman of our party, I hereby reaffirm the decision of the Political Leader that based upon the Report of the Special Investigating Committee, the said Special National Convention is declared null and void for want of a quorum amongst other violations.  The Liberty Party returns to Status Quo Ante,” Mr. Zargo also said.

“Working with the Political Leader and the National Executive Committee, we will immediately begin to make plans for a meeting of stakeholders to plan for the future of the Party.”

He called on his partisans, to “realize the provocative nature of the episode orchestrated by NEC and Mr. Bility along with the associated potentially explosive nature but call on you to be vigilant and calm. Always remember that our Party’s foundation is on the rule of Law.”

“We wish to inform you that we are taking further steps to communicate with the Diplomatic Missions accredited near our Capital as to the implications these developments have for our democracy and the sustenance of peace and tranquility in our land.”

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