Liberia: Sen. Dan Morais Accuses Chief Justice Korkpor of Bending Justice in the Pre-December 8 Senatorial Election Dispute with the Ruling CDC
MONROVIA – Maryland County Senator, Dan Morais (NPP), who ‘lost’ his seat to James Biney (NPP) believes the Supreme Court of Liberia deliberately tampered with justice prior to the Special Senatorial Election, through the manner and form in which it handled pre-election matters pertaining to his candidature on the NPP’s ticket.
In a written communication and an open letter to the Supreme Court, Mr. Morais stated that he could no longer remain mute on the matter, irrespective of whatever repercussions his divulge may attract from the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court can now censure me, because I will express my opinion as an astute politician, diplomat and law maker. This is a punishment I am willing to take, though to the contrary, I am protected by the Constitution of Liberia, Article 15(a),” he stated.
Senator Morais recalled that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) took an appeal to the Supreme Court on September 28, 2020 after the both the Hearing Officer and the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) had ruled that based on the incumbency clause of the Coalition for Democratic Change of which the National Patriotic Party (NPP) is a member, the candidate for Special Senatorial Election was to be decided by the NPP and not the CDC.
However, he wondered how the Supreme Court which does not take evidence, accepted a submission from the CDC on the day the appeal was called for hearing indicating that they had received information and evidence from the NEC that he, Morais, had registered as an independent candidate.
He stated in the open letter: “The Supreme Court prides itself as a Constitutional Court; Law and Procedures. The basis of CDC appeal was received and docketed for hearing meaning the issues for contestation was established by both sides. That there could be no other issues except that which were before them.
“On the day of the hearing, we were ambushed by a submission from the CDC that they wanted to spread a so-called document they got from the Clerk of the NEC that I had registered as an Independent candidate.
“The acceptance of that document by a Supreme Court that does not take evidence opened a Pandora Box.
“The Supreme Court knowing the route to Legal submission of information which of course is a properly filed Bill of Information through the Clerk of the Supreme, decided then and there it would set aside the rule. (I was warned by Legal luminaries if that was successful my case was dead.)
“The certificate presented in open court was dated September 25, 2020 and the hearing was scheduled for September 28, 2020. The CDC Legal counsel had enough time to file a Bill of Information with the Clerk of Court. This action was deliberate and in concert with some members of the Supreme Court Bench.”
Listing the trend of events, Sen. Morias recalled that while the appeal was still before the Supreme Court, the NEC released the calendar of events leading to the elections and on September 1, the CDC went to the NEC and collected the 2020 Senatorial Election package of the NPP, Maryland County. When he went to collect the package on September 8, he was informed by the NEC’s political officer informed him that the Coalition had the documents.
He stated that he had requested the documents from the Chairman of the CDC but he refused to turn them over.
He added: “On Friday, September 19, 2020, one working day before the announced date of the period of Nomination ending, finding no immediate solution in sight I opted to meet the deadline of September 21, 2020 by initiating the process of Independent Candidate on the Provisional Listing.
“On Monday, September 21, 2020, Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill appeared personally at NEC to influence the name of James Pobee Biney being placed on the list.
“On September 21, 2020 the Nomination Period for Candidates Closed without the Supreme Court Opinion on the Appeal of the CDC.
“On September 22, 2020 the Provisional List of Candidates was published by NEC. The surprise was to see Mr. James Pobee Biney name was published as the CDC candidate and my name as an independent candidate.”
He expressed surprise that the NEC on October 10, 2020 published the list of certificated candidates with the name of Mr. James Pobee Biney and open campaign the same day when the Supreme Court was yet to rule on the appeal.
The Supreme Court’s Ruling
The case was finally decided on October 15, 2020 by Associate Justice Youh who ruled the following:
“During the hearing of this case, a submission was made by the counsel representing the appellant bringing to our attention that the appellant has registered with the NEC as an independent senatorial candidate for Maryland County. The appellant’s counsel presented in open court a certificate dated September 25, 2020 purporting to be proof of the appellee’s registration with the NEC. The obvious intent of the submission of the appellant’s counsel was to consider this case moot, if it is established that the appellee has registered as an independent candidate and is no longer a candidate of the NPP.
“The counsel representing the appellee, in response to the submission made by the counsel for the appellant, denied knowledge of the allegation and the purported certificate, showing that the appellee had registered as an Independent Candidate of the NPP.
“On this issue, we say that the NEC, being the custodian of all records, documents, certificates, and other paraphernalia pertaining to elections throughout the bailiwick of the Republic is better situated to establish the veracity of the submission. This means that in the event that the NEC records show that the appellee has indeed registered as an independent candidate and no longer a candidate of the NPP, then and in that case, this matter becomes. And, if the contrary is established then the NEC shall proceed to conduct an investigation in keeping with this Opinion.
“WHEREFORE AND IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the ruling of the Board of Commissioners of the NEC, which affirmed the ruling of its Hearing Panel, is reversed, and the case is remanded to the NEC to conduct an investigation into the appellee’s complaint and the returns thereto in keeping with the holdings contained in this Opinion. The Clerk of this Court is ordered to send a mandate to the National Elections Commission to give effect to this Opinion. AND IT IS HEREBY SO ORDERED. Case Remanded.”
Having defined REMANDED from the Meriam Webster Dictionary as:
“to order back: such as
- : to send back (a case) to another court or agency for further action
- : to return to custody pending trial or for further determination
Senator Marais stated, “The Constitution of Liberia, Article 66 states that “the Supreme Court is final arbiter of Constitutional issues and exercise final appellate jurisdiction in all cases………”
“I need not be a Lawyer to understand that the Supreme Court has been conspicuously silent on the execution of a mandate by the NEC and thereby not exercising final appellate jurisdiction in my case.”
Beware the Isle of March
Like the warning that Julius Caesar ignored that eventually led to his murder, Senator Morias in the conclusion part of his open letter also stated, “Beware of the “Isle of March” for the “Hands of God” (Emmett Harmon, Chairman of the Election Commission – former) is looming on the horizon.
“As a politician, this is how we do ours.”
He reminded the Chief Justice Korkpor that he was not the appellant in the case but was treated as such.
Senator Morias: “The issue of intra party dispute was never before the Supreme Court brought by the CDC who took flight to the Court on Appeal
“The Ruling Panel and BOC could not investigate further what was not asked for by CDC. What was prayed for was sufficiently dealt with as per my complaint – the interpretation of 7(g) and Article XXX by the Hearing Panel and the BOC (Board of Commissioners).”
“In your reference to mootness, you were fully aware that Mr. James Pobee Biney, Acting Chairman of the NPP had unilaterally (see all NEC and NPP documents with the commission) placed himself on the NPP ticket thereby claiming the right to the NPP’s CDC nomination. This was the crux of my request for interpretation at the NEC, therefore, I could not have been on the NPP’s ticket 2020 Senatorial Elections. You closed your eyes to that reality and requested an investigation in my complaint. Justice would have been for both parties to be treated equally.
“Mr. Supreme Court, your Mandate to the National Election Commission to “investigate my complaint” has not been fully executed and this has further injured me by the participation of a foreign agent in the 2020 Senatorial Election.”