Liberia’s Supreme Court Confirms Rejection in Code of Conduct Saga
Monrovia – The Supreme Court has held that rejected Montserrado County District 15 aspirant, Abu B. Kamara flagrantly disrespected the Supreme Court and violated the Code of Conduct and as such it cannot overturn the National Elections Commission (NEC) decision to bar him from contesting in the October elections.
Report by Bettie Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]
Reading the Bench’s opinion on Kamara’s petition for a Writ of Prohibition on the NEC, Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor said the bench sought to determine whether the Code of Conduct (CoC) was applicable to him (Kamara); whether the amendment by the Legislature was in violation of the ECOWAS Protocol; whether he was given due process and whether the prohibition should be granted the prohibition.
According to the Supreme Court, the lack of mention of the position of assistant minister in Section 5.1 and 5.2 in the CoC does not exempt persons holding position from abiding by the CoC, as Article 56A of the Constitution named who the President appoints.
Chief Justice Korkpor noted that the law was passed long before Kamara was appointed as Assistant Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.
“We hold that the Code of Conduct was accepted after the Court ruled; he should have resigned of the post knowing the Code of Conduct was lawful,” Justice Korkpor averred.
He added, “The issue cannot be placed on him”.
“The argument in Count 2 also is not tenable. He cannot claim innocence of the law. We hold, therefore, that the Code of Conduct is applicable to him.”
“He is in violation of the law,” the Chief Justice noted.
The Supreme Court ruling recalled that the CoC was challenged and validated by the Court, therefore the Legislature acted properly when they passed the law.
“This Court expects that all public officials abide by the Code of Conduct, not only the ruling from the Court, but the passing as well.
“The petitioner failed to abide by the ruling of the court and we see it as a flaunt decision of the Court’s ruling on the Code of Conduct.
“This act by the petitioner to still be in the position and apply to this Court is a gross violation, gross disrespect to the court. We do not see the need to reverse the NEC decision.”
The Supreme Court also debunked Kamara’s contention that ECOWAS Protocol prohibits any member state from making new election laws six months prior to the election.
According to Justice Korkpor, the Supreme Court said it took judicial notice of the amendment of the Code of Conduct, however, the CoC was enacted in 2014.
“The ECOWAS Protocol prohibits new legislation six months prior to election, the changes isn’t substantial evidence but procedural.
This procedural change in our opinion is not in the ECOWAS Protocol. We, therefore, hold that Code of Conduct doesn’t contravene the ECOWAS Protocol,” Chief Justice averred.
The Supreme Court, however, observed that Kamara was not given due process before his rejection by the NEC.
“We do not see in the record that he was given due process as provided by the Constitution. “
“Due process is a part of the Constitution and we say we have seen nothing in the record that Abu was given due process. “
“We see only the chairperson of the NEC signing. The mere allegation is insufficient and cannot be given credence.
“The NEC is an independent body and appropriate minutes should be taken since its decision is always taken to the Supreme Court,” the Chief Justice asserted.
He advised that the NEC must conduct hearing to set the basis for its argument before the Court.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice Korkpor noted that it was a wrong path taken by Kamara to have petitioned the Court for a prohibition after he was rejected.
He opined that prohibition is not the legal remedy; rather, he should have filed an appeal.
“We hold that the petition for Writ of Prohibition will not lie in this case. The Writ is denied,” Justice Korkpor ruled.
The ruling was signed all five justices of the Supreme Court.