Home Politics NEC ‘Flogs’ CPP In Court …As S/Court Backs Its BVR Exercise

NEC ‘Flogs’ CPP In Court …As S/Court Backs Its BVR Exercise

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By E. Geedahgar Garsuah

MONROVIA: With a unanimous verdict from its Full Beach, the Supreme Court of Liberia has denied the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) petition seeking to halt all activities regarding the ongoing Biometric Voters Registration exercise of the National Elections Commission (NEC).

According to the Supreme Court which is the Final Arbiter of Justice in the land that is charged with the sole responsibility to interpret the Liberian Constitution, NEC is in no violation of Article 80 (d) and (e) of the 1986 Constitution by commencing the BVR exercise without the reapportionment of electoral constituencies as requested by the CPP.

Delivering the High Court’s opinion on the matter on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, after entertaining legal arguments from both parties (NEC/CPP), Chief Justice, Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Yuoh, maintained that there exists no legal basis to nullify the ongoing voter’s registration process.

“We find no reason to disturb the ongoing voter’s registration exercise since the NEC is not in violation of the Constitution as regards Article 80 (d) and (e),” Chief Justice Yuoh declared.
The Supreme Court, in its opinion on the matter seems to be in agreement with NEC on the basis that Article 80 (d) and (e) of the Constitution are intertwined and inter-dependent.

According to the Court, both Articles are self-executing on the precondition that a census report must be concluded and presented to the National Legislature.

The Court maintains that it is only the Legislature that carries the duty and responsibility to create a threshold for the reapportionment of electoral constituencies.

The Supreme Court further indicated that upon the Legislature creating a threshold based on the 2022 National Housing and Population Census results, NEC then, will have legal authority to commence with the demarcation of electoral constituencies in obedience to Article 80 (d) and (e) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.

Chief Justice Yuoh: “While NEC has a duty under article 80 (e) to reapportion constituencies, the said duty is not self-executing. The duty to reapportion constituencies can only be executed based upon the preconditions that a national census report be concluded and submitted to the Legislature, and the Legislature creates the laws, and then the NEC performs its duty to reapportion the constituencies pursuant to Article 80 (e).”

The Court further narrated that NEC’s action to commence the BVR exercise does not falls in the category of cases that constitute election issue that should mandate the Supreme Court to hear and make determination regarding elections matter in the period of a week.
Chief Justice Youh: “Hence, the mere fact that political parties, an alliance, a candidate, or NEC are mentioned or challenged in a case does not also make same an election matter; and that the Constitution must be interpreted in the light of the entire document rather than sequestered pronouncement, that every provision is of equal importance, even where there, is an apparent discrepancy between different provision.”

The Supreme Court’s opinion on the matter was prompted by the CPP’s petition which claimed that NEC was acting outside the Constitution by conducting voters’ registration without reapportioning electoral constituencies, while provisional results of the 2022 National Housing and Population Census were on hand.

In its petition which has now been defeated, CPP alleged that NEC was in gross violation of Article 80 (d) and (e) of the Liberian Constitution which is also the organic law of the land.

The CPP through a petition for declaration judgment which sought the court’s intervention to nullify the voter registration exercise and compel NEC to reapportion electoral constituencies had argued that NEC was trending on the path of Constitutional violation by electioneering body deliberate failure to re-demarcate electoral districts before the commencement of the BVR exercise.
According to the CPP as captured in its petition, allowing NEC to proceed with activities leading to the much crucial 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections amidst constitutional violation could set the basis for another violation which could have an adverse effect on the conduct of the October 10, 2023 polls.
CPP: “We have, therefore asked the Supreme Court to demand that the NEC obey the Constitution, and not permit violations of the Constitutional provision relating to the elections, without acting to correct such violation. If we permit one violation, we risk permitting others, including the timely conduct of the elections.”
NEC on the other hand, counter-argued that the voter’s registration exercise was in no way a violation of the Constitution as being alleged by the CPP.

According to NEC, the reapportionment of electoral districts in line with the census cannot be carry out in the absence of a complete census result and without the National Legislature creating the threshold for reapportion exercise.
NEC maintains that upon the release of the full result of the 2022 National Housing and Population Census by the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), the result will then be submitted to the National Legislature for creating the threshold which will then set a straight path for the reapportionment of constituencies.
Article 80 (e) of the 1986 Constitution which is CPP reliance for seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention states; “Immediately following a national census and before the next election, the Election Commission shall reapportion the constituencies in accordance with the new population figures so that every constituency shall have as close to the same population.”

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