Liberia: Justice Wolokolie Instructs the Correction of ‘Error’ in Liberty Party Constitution

MONROVIA Minutes after a conference between Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence’s faction of the Liberty Party and that of Musa Bility with Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokolie,

Monsterrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon told journalists that the Associate Justice had given a 72-hour mandate to Liberty Party to withdraw the contested 2021constitution “unlawfully” deposited at the National Elections Commission (NEC) by Musa Bility.

“This means, the altered version at NEC will be withdrawn within 72hrs and replaced by the proper constitution of the party,” Senator Dillion said.

“That means the altered version of Liberty Party’s constitution unlawfully lodged at NEC will be withdrawn within 72hrs and replaced with the actual, true version reflecting the January 2021 Gbarnga Convention and backed by the October 2021 Farmington MOU signed by all parties.”

“It’s also meant to correct and reflect the contents of the constitution that was agreed and voted at the 2021 Gbarnga National Convention as reflected on October 2, 2021, Farmington Memorandum of Understanding.”

Also, Grand Bassa County Senator, Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, one of three Petitioners, posted on Facebook, claiming that the Supreme Court in a conference with Justice Jamesetta Wolokolie, the Justice in Chambers ordered that in 72 hours the Liberty Party 2021 constitution should be withdrawn, all altered provisions corrected and resubmitted in keeping with the Farmington Memorandum of Understanding.

However, an impeccable source at the Supreme Court familiar with the outcome of Friday’s conference told FrontPageAfrica that Justice Wolokolie instructed that the NEC provide evidence of the rectified and amended the constitution to ascertain whether or not the claim made by the Liberty Party Chairman, Musa Bility that agreements of the Farmington Agreement that were endorsed at the party’s December 2021 convention have been reflected in the document filed with the NEC is correct.

“Contrary to the claim that the Chairman refused to implement the Farmington MOU, within a week of the Farmington sitting, he called a National Executive Committee to pass on the matter, The National Executive committee passed on it and it was slated for final approval by the Special National Convention (SNC). This SNC was held in December 2021 and the body did pass on the amendments. Immediately after the SNC, LP submitted an amended constitution, incorporating the agreements from the Farmington MOU, to the National Elections Commission. As a matter of fact, the Farmington MOU was the amendments made to the constitution in December 2021,” the Musa Bility faction of the Liberty Party informed Justice Wolokolie.

If the corrections agreed upon to be made are already reflected in the constitution currently with the NEC, there would be no need for withdrawal. If it is the contrary, they will have to update the constitution and refile with the NEC as per the December 2021 convention.

In relation to the complaint filed by Emmanuel Azango, another Petitioner, Justice Wolokolie is said to have made several observations, including the convener called roll be provided to ascertain where there was quorum before the commencement of the Gbarnga Convention. 

Our source stated that Justice Wolokolie didn’t consider Azango’s complaint because there was no dissension from the convention on the issue and that the convention proceeded. 

Our source added that Justice Wolokolie “even wondered” about the issue of quorum being raised when Petitioner Azango participated in the Convention and even contested in the election and lost. However, Azango’s petition is now the prerogative of the Civil Law Court where the original complaint was filed.

Regarding the matter of Petitioner’s claim that the NEC is proceeding wrongly and NEC ruling being non-binding because the Chair did not sign, FrontPageAfrica gathered that Wolokolie reportedly corrected Plaintiff Counsel’s assertion of the law and informed them that that the provision they relied on has long since been repealed by the Commission, and as such there is no law requiring the Chair to sign all rulings in order for it to be binding.

Our source added that the Justice in Chambers stated that the matter of relevance before her is whether or not the Farmington MOU has been executed and that the Writ of Prohibition requested in their Petition was not issued.

On April 21, 2022,  Karnga-Lawrence,  filed a 27-count Petition for a Writ of Prohibition against Musa Bility and Martin Kollah (1st Respondents) and National Elections Commission (2nd Respondents).

In their counts, they made claims that the Farmington MOU resulted in an agreement to make certain amendments to the Jan 2021 amended LP Constitution, relating to Article VII, which has to do with the roles of the Political Leader and Chairman, and that the Bility and Kollah have refused to implement said amendments as agreed.

They also alleged that based on the Farmington MOU, the Political Leader nullified the Jan 2021 Constitution, wrote NEC to withdraw the Constitution and revert to the 2015 Constitution, and nullified the elections of the Jan 2021 Convention.

They alleged Azango filed a complaint with NEC that the Jan 2021 Convention was fraudulent and lacked a quorum, and that the NEC Hearing Officer and Board of Commissioners both ruled that the matter be brought through the Party’s Internal Dispute Resolution Mechanism.

Also in their counts, the Political Leader set up a Special Investigating Committee to look into the matter,  which the Committee found in favor of Azango, and they submitted such finding to the NEC. That, notwithstanding, both the NEC Hearing Officer and BOC denied the complaint

That the LP National Executive Council expelled Bility and Kollah from LP and therefore they are no longer members and have no legal standing to issue any complaint in the Party’s name, and that the NEC is proceeding in a manner contrary to legal practices and their rights are being adversely affected, they claimed.

The Respondents, however, rejected claims by the Petitioners, claiming that there was no disagreement on the content of the Farmington MOU but rather on the lawless manner in which the Political Leader attempted to effectuate the MOU, our source added.

The Farmington MOU, the Respondents said according, was an agreement between the political leader and the national chairman in which they both agreed to the terms of the necessary amendments to the constitution in line with the Gbarnga Convention. 

“However, neither the Chairman nor the Political Leader possesses the constitutional authority to commit the Party without the consent of the National Executive Committee, therefore that MOU had to also be approved by the National Executive Committee.”

“In addition, even the approval by the National Executive Committee is subject to final resolution by the Special National Convention. The Political Leader did not want to follow the proper procedure and instead rushed to NEC to “withdraw” the LP Constitution, an action that she has no authority to carry out.”