Lawyers representing the opposition Collaborating Political Parties or CPP’s senatorial candidate, Edith Gongloe-Weh, are calling for recount of ballots from Electoral Districts #7, 4 and 5 respectively, and rerun election in Electoral Districts #1, and #2, in Nimba County.
But the defense counsel led by Counselors Arthur Johnson and Cooper Krua, asked the hearing officer or fact-finder of the National Elections Commission to deny the complainant’s legal memorandum on ground that it did not adduce any “materiality and particularity” evidence about alleged frauds and irregularities.
The defense team stated among many things that all of the documents they presented were never rebutted to by the complainant as election results should not be about sentiment.
They argued that rerun could only come about when there are widespread irregularities of the poll with first hand facts but not based on secondary evidence, further arguing, “We presented records during the hearing which were all signed, confirmed and certified by the Edith Gongloe-Weh’s agents.”
However, the plaintiff believe when recount and rerun are carried out, it would grant complainant further relief that the fact-finder or hearing officer will find just and legal in the interest of transparency, integrity and peace.
These were contained in the complainant’s legal memorandum as both the complainant and defendant rested final argument Saturday, 13 February at the National Elections Commission headquarters in Monrovia with one hour allotted to each side to summarize its argument.
Counselor Gloria Musu-Scott, one of the lead counsels for the complainant made these readings. She was buttressed by Counselor Tiawan Saye Gongloe and others, including Frances Johnson-Allison, Momolu Kandakai, Augustine Fayiah, Kuku Dorbor, Bobby Livingstone, Philip Y. Gongloe and Lawrence Tomah.
It is the alleged frauds and irregularities case of complainant Edith Gongloe-Weh of the Collaborating Political Parties or CPP versus the National Elections Commission, and fellow contestant Jeremiah Kpan Koung, of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction or MDR.
Madam Gongloe-Weh in her complaint dated Saturday, 12, and Wednesday, 16 December, 2020, respectively complained to the NEC, through its Upper Nimba County Magistrate, Blehdoh Flomo, and that of the Board of Commissioners through its Chairman, Davidetta Brown-Lansannah, about alleged irregularities and suspected fraud during the December 8, 2020 special senatorial election.
The complaint pointed out concerns that there was exchange of the complainant’s vote count of 137 with 7 votes of candidate Garrison Yealue in Airfield Zone 2, polling place 2, Sanniquellie City, Electoral District #2 by the data entry personnel.
That 70 votes for Candidate Jeremiah Kpan Koung from Martha Tubman Campus polling place, Sanniquellie, Electoral District #2, instead of his 37 votes obtained at that polling place.
That there were 11 ballot boxes found with broken seals of the tally sheets and inappropriately placed within the boxes with only copies of those sheets found.
The team then named those precincts with the alleged irregularities as 33010, 33080, 33250, and 33069 where sheets of the two polling places were reported missing, including 33077 and 33079 precincts as well as that of 33179.
The team wants a rerun in eight other precincts in Upper Nimba County in Electoral District #4, precinct 33010 at the Bihplay Public School of polling place 3; Electoral District #1, precinct 33080 at the Liberty Christian Institute of polling place 5; and Electoral District #1, precinct 33250 at Tonglawin Public School of polling place 4.
Others are Electoral District #1, precinct 33069 in the Ganta Public School of polling place 5; and Electoral District #1, precinct 33077 in the Vision International School of polling place 5.
Also, in Electoral District #1, precinct 33079 at the Gbartu Quarter Palavahut of polling place 6; Electoral District #1, precinct 33071 in the Small Ganta Palavahut of polling place 5; and Electoral District #1, precinct 33179 of the Wehplay Public School with polling place 4.
The lawyers strongly want a re-run as well in Electoral District #2, polling places number 33052 in the Gbayee Public School, and Electoral District #2, polling place #33100 at Tiara Public School.
They believe that their client or candidate could not participate in the election held there since she had already filed a complaint which was being heard and not yet resolved.
Because of the evolving tension in Nimba County following the announcement of preliminary results in last December, they continued a motion for change of venue was made by the complainant and same was granted by the hearing officer in the presence of the Upper Nimba County Magistrate, Blehdoh Flomo, and the hearing of the complaint was transferred to the National Elections Commission in Monrovia.
In their closing argument, they called for physical recount in places or precincts 33047, 33121, 33057, 33012, 33154, 33031, 33165, 33030, 33257, 33054, 33172, 33172, 33261 and 33209.
The legal team said the data entry clerk refused to allow the complainant’s agent to obtain a copy of the data entered or to simply display a copy for verification following the discoveries which clearly indicates calculated plan to commit fraud and deny her the votes cast in her favor by the people.
In view of these discoveries, the team said their client demanded in her complaint that the process of counting be stopped in order for her complaint to be addressed in order to restore her confidence in the process.
However, that was not done; rather, it continued as the complaint was signed by Candidate Edith Gongloe-Weh. The team stated further that the Magistrate of Upper Nimba County cited her to appear before him, for a hearing of the complaint on Monday, 14 December, 2020 at 10:45.
Additionally, the team went further that their client’s agent in the tally room and campaign manager, Armstrong Gobac Selekpoh, wrote a complaint to the Board of Commissioners through its Chairperson, Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, reiterating what was in the complaint dated Sunday, 13 December, 2020.
It emphasized that the fact that there were 18 ballot boxes found with broken seals of Tally Tees and inappropriately placed within the boxes with only photocopies of the tees found.
During the hearings, the complainant paraded witnesses in support of her case namely Edith Gongloe-Weh, Augustine Fredrick (Expert Witness), Armstrong Goba Selekpoh, Winston W. Saye Kain and Prince Balaieh.
Others were Raily Guadeah (Journalist of the Voice of Gompa who interview defendant’s witness Milton Paye and Blehdoh Flomo), William Saye Menzoe, Jr., Cyrus Danquan, Jackson K. Geugbeh, William Miazoe, and Princeton Loffen.
These witnesses produced document and instruments testified to, identified, and confirmed were admitted into evidence during the hearing by the fact-finder.
The defendant presented four witnesses namely; Michael T. V. Dedeh, Edwin G. Gondon, Milton G. Paye, Charles T. Wonkeryor and Blehdoh Flomo.
They also presented 10 counts for the hearing officer’s determination as final ruling is being reserved by hearing officer Counselor Boakai P. Harris after Saturday’s final argument. Editing by Jonathan Browne