Liberia: Supreme Court Puts Temporary Hold on Upcoming Liberty Party Convention
MONROVIA – Liberty Party chairman Mr. Musa Bility has been ordered by the Supreme Court to halt activities of the party until the conclusion of a pending conference with him (Bility), the National Elections Commission, and petitioners – aggrieved members of the party.
The Supreme Court’s order comes in the wake of a planned Liberty Party convention that should have been held over the weekend to elect new officials of the party.
A Writ of Prohibition was issued by Her Honor Jamesetta H. Wolokolie, justice presiding in Chambers. Petitioners are; LP Political Leader Nyounblee Karnga-Lawrence, Mr. Jacob Smith, Secretary-General, and Mr. Steve Zargo, who is also claiming the legitimacy of the Liberty Party’s chairmanship, and Mr. Emmanuel Izango a partisan of the LP.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) and Mr. Musa Bility are the defendants. The NEC has been accused by the petitioners of siding with Mr. Bility, whose chairmanship has been challenged by Mr. Izango over claims that the convention that brought Bility to the position of chairman was unconstitutional.
“By directive of her honor Jamesetta H. Wolokolie, Associate Justice presiding in chambers, you are hereby cited to a conference with Her Honor on Friday, April 29, 2022, at the hour of 2:00 p.m in connection with the captioned case.
“Meanwhile, you are hereby ordered to stay all further proceedings and action/or actions in the matter pending the outcome of the conference.”
In December of 2021, the national elections commission said, in effect, that it upholds the 2021 constitution of the LP party which has been of much controversy; and they regard Mr. Musa Bility, as its chairman.
The NEC communication, signed by its Co-chairperson Teplah Reeves, is quoted as saying the LP 2021 constitution is proper and remains, as such, until successfully challenged in keeping with due process or via an amendment to the party’s constitution.
The commission revealed in the communication that it has not received any final or non-appealable decision regarding the validity of the LP’s 2021 constitution; neither has the commission been served with an amendment done by the party.
On October 2, 2021, both the Political Leader and Mr. Bility, agreed to hold a retreat at the Farmington Hotel under the auspices of the National Advisory Council to review the convention’s documents in terms of procedures and contents.
The meeting took place against the backdrop of NEC’s ruling, urging the party to use its internal mechanism to resolve the matter.
As a result of the retreat, which identified unauthorized changes in the document, the party on November 15, 2021, filed with the NEC with notice to the commission that the instrument was effectively withdrawn; as it could not govern the affairs of the party. In support of it they forwarded the Memorandum of Understanding in which both parties agreed to accept the findings of the forum as final and binding.
In February of 2022, the Liberty Party (LP) headed by its political leader, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, filed a lawsuit against the chairman of the party, Musa Bility for the alleged altering of the LP’s constitution.
Bility and Secretary General Martin A. Kollah were accused of alleged forgery, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.
The complainants alleged that the defendants connived and conspired as well as purposely, criminally and intentionally altered the constitution of the Liberty Party, following its convention and submitting said document to the National Elections Commission.
As a result, both Bility and Kollah were ordered arrested by Monrovia City Court Judge Jomah Jallah to answer to the allegations.