MONROVIA – The Hearing Officer at the National Elections Commission has dismissed the election dispute case between House Speaker Bhofal Chambers and Mr. Anthony Williams on the grounds that the complaint didn’t amount to electoral fraud.
By Henry Karmo, [email protected]
The ruling was made on Thursday, December 7, 2023. However, lawyers representing the interests of Speaker Chambers expressed their exception to the ruling and announced their intention to seek an appeal at the level of the Board of Commissioners, a guarantee under the electoral laws of Liberia.
Following the NEC’s announcement of poll results from the district, Chambers filed a complaint demanding a rerun of the election in some parts of his district, alleging ballot stuffing and interference by traditional leaders.
Chambers’ legal team claims to have evidence supporting their allegations. They asserted that their observers were chased out by the presence of a country devil, a traditional mask dancer used in most of Liberia’s rural areas by local leaders to exercise power.
The legal counsels for the complainant alleged that traditional chiefs brought out a country devil and took siege of ballot boxes at polling precinct #27020 in Old Sodoken, Maryland County. According to them, the precinct in question comprised two polling centers. They further claimed to have evidence that more votes were cast in that polling center than the regular 550 votes expected at a polling center.
Not satisfied with the previous ruling at the county level in October, the Speaker filed a nine-count Bill of Exception before the Hearing Officer at the NEC headquarters in Monrovia. This document listed a litany of alleged malpractices while expressing dissatisfaction with the Magistrate’s decision to defer a determination until after the pronouncement of the final results.
According to the final results from Maryland County District 2 (Old Plebo Sodeken District) released by the NEC, Williams accumulated 8,105 votes (45.29%) while Chambers received 7,919 votes (44.84%). This shows that Williams won by a 186-vote difference.
The Bill of Exception filed before the Hearing Officer is a key requirement in the law for the filing of petitions and Bills. According to the law, when submitting a complaint to a court of records, it is crucial to clearly state the relief or action sought from the court or hearing officers. In Bhofal Chambers’ complaint, no specific requests were made to the NEC. The law stipulates that if no requests are made in a case or a Bill of Exception, the court or hearing officers cannot provide any remedies.