Dr. Henrique Tokpa, the University President whose legal challenge to the December 2014 Senatorial by elections in Bong County has threatened the legitimacy of Senator Jewel Howard Taylor’s position at the Senate says, he is backing off from the re-run ordered by the Supreme Court in three of the disputed electoral precincts.
But the National Elections Commission or NEC says, until the court issues a contrary mandate, it will proceed with the re-run as ordered. Sen. Taylor could not be reached for comment on the latest development as her both phones were either switched off or out of courage areas.
The Supreme Court few weeks ago ruled for a re-run of the senatorial election at Sanoyea Market, Yarbayeh Public School and Bletenda Palava Hut all in Electoral District #7 in lower Bong County. The high court’s decision is based upon a complaint filed by the second place winner in the December 20, 2014 election, Dr. Tokpa, that the results from the three disputed areas were not credible and that procedural election irregularities led to his defeat
But days after the Constitutional Courts ruling had spurred debate, with women amongst them Sen. Geraldine Doe Sheriff of Montserrado County condemned the court’s order, Dr. Tokpa, announced Wednesday that he was withdrawing from the re-run.
He told local journalists at a news conference in Gbarnga Wednesday that his decision not to participate is as a result of feed backs from consultations and advices from his supporters and national stakeholders. The special senatorial elections as stated earlier were held last December and it’s approximately seven months after, and several petitions on election irregularities were filed before the Supreme Court.
Over six petitions were filed, but up to date the court has ruled on three, waiting to give its opinion on the rest. Dr.Tokpa had 11,737 votes, which amounted to 30.2%, while Senator Taylor received 13,672 votes, amounting to 35.2% thus declaring her the winner.
Sen. Taylor along with Sen. Prince Johnson of Nimba County were the only two senators to have retained their seats during the by election among 15. 13 others including the former Senate Protempore lost their seats.
At his news conference Wednesday in Gbarnga, Dr. Tokpa said the pursuant of his case at the Supreme Court was in no way intended to ascend to political position, but to expose the irregularities that were in the election, something he added has been achieved.
He said rather than conducting the re-run, money allocated by the NEC for such purpose should be redirected and use for the completion of the Bong County Technical College. The Episcopal run Cuttington University College president added that though many of his supporters intended protesting against the election result at the time, but he asked them to remain calm on grounds that he wanted to pursue his case through legal means.
He said despite winning six of the seven electoral districts, it was only district seven that was overshadowed with fraudulent activities on the part of election workers in favor of incumbent Sen. Taylor. Dr. Tokpa said during preliminary hearing at the commission’s headquarters, the NEC knew it was in the wrong but decided not to rule against itself on grounds that the election body could not find itself guilty of wrong doing.
He said the Constitutional Court’s ruling is a clear sign that there are laws on the book that are being followed. However, the NEC says until otherwise from the Supreme Court it will still go ahead with the re-run. NEC spokesman Joey Kennedy told this paper in Monrovia Wednesday saying ” We have a mandate from the Supreme Court which we are going to abide by.” Unless it says otherwise, we cannot go by what Dr. Tokpa is saying, ” Kennedy added. – By Papa Morris -Edited by Othello B. Garblah with additional files.