The Supreme Court of Liberia after hearing petition filed by Margibi County Independent senatorial aspirant Mulbah Jackollie against the National Elections Commission ruled last week that the NEC without hearing the petitioner’s lawyer and staffers denied them the opportunity to proceed with submission of his (Jackollie’s) requirements for inclusion on the provisional list of senatorial candidates for the December 8, 2020 special senatorial election.
Following hearing into aspirant Jackollie’s petition, Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh on Thursday, 22 October 2020 reversed the NEC’s decision, which summarily denied Mr. Jackollie due process thereby, excluding him from the provisional list of qualified candidates
Associate Justice Yuoh also ordered a writ of madamus issued against the NEC and instructed the commission to hear Jackollie’s complaint and accord him due process of law before reaching a determination to whether or not, include him on the provision list of candidates.
We hail the High Court for these early steps in complaint brought before it by an aggrieved party against the NEC in an electoral process that should leave no room for an aspirant or would-be contestant to feel disenfranchise without according him or her due process of law.
The petitioner had argued in his request for a writ of madamus that prior to the September 21, 2020 deadline for submission of requirements to the commission, he fell sick and doctor advised that he needed bed rest, which made it impossible for him to appear in person or in public hence, sending his lawyer and staffers to submit on his behalf. But the NEC argued it needed Jackollie in person to photograph him; how possible was that?
As Liberians proceed to the senatorial election, we caution the National Elections Commission to use the law as its guide in reaching every decision into the process in order to thwart all suspicions. Recent happenings from neighboring Guinea and Ivory Coast over elections should serve as early warning to endeavor in making our own process in Liberia as free, fair and transparent as possible, using the rules.
It is only when the right things are done in line with the law that the commission would keep it itself from suspicions and maintain public trust without any participant feeling disadvantaged, as in the case of aspirant Jackollie, which led him to run to the Supreme Court.
At the same time Mr. Jackollie should be commended for mustering the courage to challenge the process that led him to being denied before the law rather than mobilizing thugs into the street to protest and stage violence. All other participants in the race should emulate his civilized behavior and approach in seeking legal recourse.
The ruling from the Supreme Court should give aspirants, contestants and citizens generally hope that missteps along the way can be addressed without resorting to violence. This is key message we are driving home. Liberians should learn to trust the process and to exhaust all means available under the law to have their dissatisfactions or grievances addressed.
By its opinion, the High Court has demonstrated clearly that justice is crucial to sustaining stability, peace and democracy in Liberia.