Liberia: Cllr. Arthur Johnson Challenges Nominations of NEC Chairperson and Co-Chairperson Designate; Says Nomination Violates Electoral Law and Constitution

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Cllr. Arthur Johnson argued that the two female nominees were serving a tenure which was yet to be expired when the President nominated them to a new position. This, he said, violates both the Constitution of Liberia and the electoral law of Liberia

MONROVIA – Renowned lawyer, Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson has asked the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of the chairperson and co-chairperson-designate of the National Election Commission (NEC) who were recently nominated to steer the affairs of the NEC for the next seven years.


Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]


Cllr. Johnson has, therefore, petitioned the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Prohibition on the ongoing confirmation hearing at the Senate until there is a determination on the legitimacy of their appointments.

In his request to the Supreme Court, Cllr. Johnson contended that he has no doubt over the nationality or qualification of the pair to head the electoral body, but he believes that their preferment fundamentally violates the tenure requirements spelled out in the Act of NEC, the Elections Law and also the Constitution of Liberia.

He stated: “The appointments of these Presidential Appointees, though they are qualified women competent for leadership positions in this nation, but their present positions at the National Elections Commission (NEC) cannot allow them to be re-appointed in the very and same Commission as Co-Chairperson and Chairperson, respectively while serving their seven (7) year tenure because such appointments constitute effective removal and in violation of the tenure requirement of the National Elections Commission (NEC) Law and the Constitution of Liberia, specifically Articles 54 , 55, and 56, and all state who the President of Liberia can appoint and remove at his will and pleasure.”

“The appointments of these Presidential Appointees, though they are qualified women competent for leadership positions in this nation, but their present positions at the National Elections Commission (NEC) cannot allow them to be re-appointed in the very and same Commission as Co-Chairperson and Chairperson, respectively while serving their seven(7) year tenure because such appointments constitute effective removal and in violation of the tenure requirement of the National Elections Commission (NEC) Law and the Constitution of Liberia , specifically Articles 54 , 55, and 56, and all state who the President of Liberia can appoint and remove at his will and pleasure.”

– Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson

Mrs. Davidetta Brown Lansannah, chairperson-designate and Cllr. Teplah Reeves, co-chairperson-designate, while serving their seven-year tenure at the NEC as commissioners, were nominated by President George Manneh Weah to head the NEC in the new capacities.

The pair are currently undergoing confirmation hearing at the Senate (also a respondent to the petition). However, Cllr. Johnson argues that the ongoing confirmation hearing is in sharp violation of the spirit and intent of the Elections Law of Liberia as well as the Constitution of Liberia, Articles 53, 54, and 89.

“Chapter X, Article 89 of the Constitution of Liberia gives the President of Liberia the appointment powers to nominate commissioners of NEC, but not the “will and pleasure” powers that are enumerated in Articles 54, 55, and 56 of the Constitution of Liberia. For this violation of the Constitution, Your Honours and This Honourable Supreme Court of Liberia are most respectfully requested to declare the constitutionality of the appointments of Mrs. Teplah Reeves and Mrs. Davidetta Browne-Lasannah as Co-Chairperson and Chairperson, respectively as unconstitutional,” Cllr. Johnson contended.

He added that the confirmation of the two nominees will undermine the very independence that the farmers of the Act of the National Elections Commissions (NEC) Law vision because Commissioners of the Commission (NEC) will effectively work at the “will and pleasure of the Executive”.

According to Cllr. Johnson, Mrs. Browne-Lanssanah, prior to her nomination as chairperson of the NEC, was nominated by President Weah and was confirmed by the Senate to serve a seven-year tenure as co-chairperson of the NEC, therefore, reappointment as chairperson prior to the completion of her tenure is tantamount to removal from office which should only be necessitated by resignation or removal based on misconduct.

Cllr. Johnson: “Petitioner says that if this Honourable Court fails to determine said constitutionality of the appointments and confirmation hearings of the two NEC officials, the actions of the Respondents, is to say both the 1st and 2nd Respondents, will undermine the independence of NEC and render the sacred Senate confirmation proceedings defined by the Constitution of Liberia as symbolic and cosmetic with no actual and functional effect as was determined by the framers of the Constitution of Liberia

“Your Honors and This Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia to determine the constitutionality of the appointments and confirmation hearings of Mrs. Tarplah Reeves, and Mrs. Davidetta Browne-Lansannah, as Co-Chairperson and Chairperson , respectively of the National Elections Commission(NEC) of Liberia as unconstitutional, and prohibit, refrain, and restrain such acts of the Respondents and rule against the Respondents, refraining, prohibiting, enjoining, and restraining them Respondents from carrying on any act or acts seeking to appoint and confirm the Presidential appointees in question , and grant all other reliefs that are legal and right.”

President Weah has nominated Mrs. Davidetta Browne Lansanah as Chairman of the NEC on July 15, 2020 on June 15 after withdrawing the nomination of Cllr. A. Ndudisi Nwabudike as chairperson-designate.

Prior to her preferment, Mrs. Davidetta Browne Lansanah was nominated, confirmed, appointed and commissioned co-chairman of the Electoral Body. She was subsequently appointed Acting Chair of the Commission after the Liberian Leader withdrew the nomination of the then Chairman-designate, Nwabudiki.

The NEC Chairman-designate will replace Cllr. Jerome Korkoryah whose tenure expired in March of this year.

Cllr. Reeves as Co-chairman of NEC is to replace the elevated Mrs. Davidetta Browne Lansanah.

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