Home Politics CPP, NEC Lawyers Clashed In BVR Case … Supreme Court Reserves Ruling

CPP, NEC Lawyers Clashed In BVR Case … Supreme Court Reserves Ruling

by News Manager

By: Frank P. Martin

MONROVIA: Full Bench of the Supreme Court of Liberia has reserved ruling into the case involving the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and the National Elections Commission (NEC).

The Court’s decision followed a Tuesday, April 4, 2023, hearing of the matter between the CPP and the NEC.

The CPP was represented in Court by Cllr. Aloysius Toe and Cllr. Finley Karnga while the Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Nyananti Tuah and Cllr. M. Wilkins Wright, represented the National Elections Commission.

During court argument, the petitioner, CPP, filed an In Re Petition, praying that the Supreme Court to declare the National Elections Commission’s Voters Registration unconstitutional.
The Petitioner required the NEC to comply with the Liberian constitution; that is to demarcate constituencies before the BV Registration.

In its Petition, the CPP lawyers argued that the “Liberian Constitution commands that both of these prerequisites and preconditions, that is, to prescribe population threshold and demarcate constituencies, “must be met before the National Elections Commission can proceed with any voters’ registration since every voter must, as a consequence of registration, know what constituency he or she is in and that information is required to be on the registration card of the voter.

The CPP said to adopt a course or policy to proceed with the registration of voters without first having the mentioned preconditions met is not just in clear violation of the Constitution but is unconstitutional.

The CPP therefore “challenged the constitutionality of the action by the NEC as neither the National Elections Commission nor the Legislature of the Republic has the authority to do any act in contravention of the Constitution and the constitutional mandate or to indulge in acts and activities having the tendency to supersede the Constitution,” contending that “all powers and authority exercised by the Legislature and the National Elections Commission grow out of the Constitution and the delegation of such functions and authority to those bodies in no way vest in them authority to take action that deviates from the mandates of the Constitution and to act as if they have the authority to do acts that supersede the Constitution.”

The CPP lawyers further argue that the “action by the NEC to register voters when the Legislature has not set a threshold for the demarcation of electoral constituencies, is not only a clear departure from the mandates of the Constitution but a clear violation of the above quoted provisions of the Constitution and therefore unconstitutional.” Hence, the petitioner “prays that this Honorable Court to declare the acts and actions of the National Elections Commission as unconstitutional, void and without any legal effect.”

In its returns to the CPP Petition, NEC lawyers, headed by Cllr. Tuah, requested the Court to dismiss Petitioner’s Petition because the Petition did not include the names of the sitting justices of the Supreme Court.
The NEC lawyers further took the position that under the constitutional doctrine of “separation of power,” as found in Chapter 1, Article 3 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, that “National Elections Commission and the Executive Branch of Liberia, the NEC do not have the legal authority to command or compel the legislative Branch to carry out and perform its functions outlined in the constitution.”
Petitioners averred that the census results have been submitted to the Legislature by LISGIS, and it is up to the “Legislature to set the new threshold by which National Election Commission would then be able to demarcate new constituencies.”
In response, the petitioner contends that the respondent’s position is wrong and unconstitutional under the law, as stated and argued that letters concerning submission of census report to the Legislature, as reflected in respondent’s attached exhibits, though dated March 13, 2023, were only delivered to the Legislature on March 20, 2023, three (3) days after Petitioners Petition, as if the submissions were masterminded to defeat Petitioner’s Petition.

The respondent further takes the position, albeit wrong, untenable and legally unreasonable, that because Article 80 (c), Lib. Constitution (1986, as amended), requires every Liberian citizen to register and vote in a constituency, and further because the country is currently divided into seventy (73) electoral constituencies, the National Election Commission is legally justified to register eligible voters in one of those seventy three (73) constituencies, even if the constitutional prerequisites and preconditions are not met.

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