Election Commission Reserves Ruling In Unity Party Expulsion Case

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Monrovia – Ruling has been reserved in a motion filed by defendant lawyers representing Joseph Boakai, Wilmot Paye and all National Executive Committee members of the Unity Party, to dismiss a petition filed by complaints Patrick Worzie and other members of Unity Party.

Cllr. Muana Ville, the National Election Commission hearing officer, on Tuesday, February 20, reserved the ruling but did not state any reason. 

Said Cllr. Ville: “This hearing was called to entertain arguments on the motion file by the movants, and as such, ruling will be reserved on a later date.”

“The ruling is scheduled on Friday, the 23rd day of February, in the year 2018 at 3:00 PM, with all parties to be present.” 

The ruling was however reserved for Friday, February 23, at the hour 3:00PM at the NEC Hearing Office in Monrovia. 

Lawyers representing the defendant filed a 23 counts motion, calling for the dismissal of petition filed by complaints for “legal and factual reasons”. 

States the defendant motion: “And now come Hon. Joseph Boakai, Standard Bearer of the Unity Party, Hon. Wilmot J.M. Paye, National Chairman of the Unity Party and all National Executive Committee Members of the Unity Party, movants herein (as respondents in the petition), and moves for the summary dismissal of the petition for legal and factual reasons.” 

Defendant Counsels headed by Cllr. Albert Sims of the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm raised the argument at the start of the hearing at the National Elections Commissions Hearing Office. 

Sims said the motion has to be argued before proceeding with the case involving a petition filed by complainants Patrick Worzie and national executive committee members of the Unity Party. 

Cllr. Sims argued that the complainants did not follow procedure prescribed in the Unity Party constitution for partisans affected by administrative decision before proceeding to the NEC for further redress. 

He said Joseph Boakai and Wilmot Paye are agents of the Unity Party and as such legal proceedings shall not be instituted against them without naming the party. 

Added the motion: “Article 78 of the constitution identifies a political party, which the Unity Party is, as an association and it is a general principle of law that a Standard Bearer and National Chairman and National Executive Committee of a political party are merely agents of the party and act for and in the name of the party.”

“It is also a general principle of law that a person shall not institute legal proceeding against an agent alone of an association without naming the association itself as party to the matter.” 

However, the complainants, represented by its lead Counsel, Cllr. Jonathan T. Massaquoi of the International Law Group called on the presiding to proceed with the case on grounds that the Unity Party committee responsible to do an inhouse investigation has not been established. 

Cllr. Massaquoi said the defendants’ motion to dismiss the complainant’s petition “was a waste of time”, saying the complainants cannot filed a complaint to the same group of people who expelled them. 

He said the complainants fundamental rights were grossly violated by the Unity Party, in defiance to the Constitution of Liberia. 

“Mr. Presiding, they should not waste time on the matter, let the proceeding be allow to go on because the proceeding is an argument.”

“The count mentioned in the constitution about their committee responsible to investigate that matter has not been established. 

“They were expelled and never cited to provide clarity, saying the accuser must give them notice rather them they who are accused producing a notice. The decision to expelled them was a conspicuous target,” Cllr. Massaquoi stated. 

During his argument, Cllr. Sims said the party action falls in line with the party rules and guideline governing the Unity Party, saying, there are remedy that falls in line with the party’s constitution. 

He said the complainants did not follow the party’s guidelines before proceeding to the NEC. 

Article 7 Section 4 of the UP Constitution: “In the event of violation of any rights under the bylaw, such member shall report to the national evaluation committee.” 

“Petitioner Patrick Worzie and his unidentified “ET AL” persons have not exhausted the remedy provided by the constitution of the Unity Party to remedy any grievance a member has and yet, this petition has been filed before the Board of Commissioner of the National Elections Commission (hereafter the NEC Board),” Cllr. Sims noted. 

He also maintained that the petition was not clear on stating the names of those referred to as “and all others” and that it was difficult to believe that those who names were not stated give the petitioner the right to file legal action on their behalf.

Cllr. Sims then draws the NEC hearing officer’s attention to an assertion that Worzie’s legal representation was not licensed to practice in the period, March 2017 to March 2018. 

However, the assertion was dismissed by Cllr. Massaquoi, who displaced his license to rebuked the allegation. 

At the same time, Cllr. Sims reminded the NEC that its functions do not require interfering in political party matter, adding that such power is not expressly conferred upon the NEC in the new Elections Law. 

“The power to determine who is eligible to be a member of a political party and who shall be or remain a member of a political party is an inherent power that the political party itself has,” Cllr. Sim averred in the motion. 

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