Monrovia – In response to comments by Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah about the National Elections Commission being strict about the implementation of the code of conduct, the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) says the NEC doesn’t have any jurisdiction to implement the Code of Conduct as claimed by its chairman.
"IREDD believes that the decision of the Court on the Code of Conduct does not automatically affect the rights of any citizens to participate in the ensuing elections," said Marvin Aidoo, executive director of IREDD.
At a press conference, he said they have taken note of the comment made by Cllr. Korkoya that the NEC will ensure full compliance of the Code of Conduct as interpreted by the Supreme Court.
"There is nowhere in the law is it stated that the NEC has a role to play in the enforcement of the Code of Conduct.
The recent Supreme Court’s opinion pronouncing the constitutionality of the law is unambiguous that the first place of refuge for alleged breach is the office of law is the ombudsman.
"All appeals from the decision of Ombudsman lie directly before the full bench of the Supreme Court.
"Therefore, IREDD cautions that NEC, being the forerunner of our electoral systems, should take steps to have itself abreast with the Code of Conduct and the Supreme Court’s opinion and relinquish all intents of taking part in the enforcement of the code of conduct."
He furthered that if NEC is to disqualify any candidate based on the Code of Conduct, it can only be grounded on the findings made by the Ombudsman and confirmed by the Supreme Court where necessary.
A fortnight ago, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, Chairman of the National Elections Commission vowed to uphold the recent Supreme Court’s ruling on the code of conduct to the letter. His statement came two days after the decision by the court to declare the contested Code of Conduct constitutional.
The court on March 3 dismissed a petition, seeking to allow officials of government from participating in the upcoming Presidential and legislative elections.
Aidoo also added that there are several core issues which the Court did not address, as the only question before it at the time was whether or not the Code of Conduct, as enacted by the legislature, was unconstitutional and not whether a particular citizen is qualified to contest or not.
He further called for the setting up of the Ombudsman.
“To date, there is no indication of the appointment of the ombudsman although the office was established by law. This means that law is unenforceable at the moment."