The legal battle for the Press Union of Liberia elections appear to be far from over as political and legal tension including arguments from both ends are increasing from the corridors of the media landscape of Liberia on a daily basis.
On Wednesday evening the Elections Commission released a statement for among other things announcing the new date for the holding of the PUL elections.
The decision according to the Chairman Jarlawah Tonpo is due to claimed legal advice as well as the Court lifting of the injunction placed on the elections last Saturday November 9, 2019 something Team Ocatavin has so far trashed and described it as a complete misinterpretation of the court.
“The Court returns was misquoted, Team Ocatvin”, argued.
According to the youth wing chairman of Team Ocatvin, P’ Nas Mulbah,the lifting of an injunction in his understanding of judicial practice and reporting does not in any way mean a ruling into a particular case has been handed down.
Moreover, he argued that, how can the statement from the court which was signed by the clerk of Court Nah J.Wollor on November 13, 2019 giving the petitioners up till November 23, 2019, a time to file a respond be used as a basis for the rescheduling of elections by the EC, terming it as a sad day for the Union.
“Interestingly enough, the judge of the case, George Roland Dahn is yet to sit in his chambers to look into the merit and demerit of the matter as such a ruling has not been made, added Mr. Ocatavin Togar Williams.
According to him the elections body wants to bring the court to public disrepute and they are monitoring to see the decision that will be taken by the court.
“We are respecters of the law, as such we are following the legal proceedings and the right thing must be done, stated Mr. Williams.
The Current PUL Vice President said the present situation is a basis for confusion among members of the Union and if not handle properly will lead to chaos between supporters of the two teams.
He maintained that his team can only go to the process once in his words, the fraudulent list is clean-up by the membership committee of the Press Union of Liberia headed by Maxwell Johnson.
Mr. Williams is at the same time encouraging his supporters to remain calm and law abiding as they are working closely with their lawyer, whom he pointed out is in control of the case to ensure the matter is brought to its legal and logical conclusion.
Speaking in an exclusive interview he alleged that the Elections Chairman is compromised and is now a party to the elections, when he should be an independent person, as such he must leave, a claimed Mr. Tonpo has since denied.
He pointed out that as a key party to the election, he was not served a communication by the Elections Chairman relative to the new plan scheduling of the elections and has also allegedly failed to inform him about issues as well as activities surrounding the elections, unlike the other team, this he indicated is unacceptable.
Though the Elections chairman has refuted the allegations levied against him by Team Ocatvin but a new date for the holding of the elections has been released by the commission which is this Saturday November 16, 2019, one week to the return date by the court for the complaining party (Team-Octavin) to the case to file if possible a bill of information.
The political hullaballoo in the parent body of journalists in Liberia is getting increasing heated and is so far leading to what some journalists considered as a divided Press Union of Liberia.
Up till press time Team Coffey is yet to raise any opposing view relative to the new date set for the elections, this Mr. Williams believed in his mind, is a calculated plan.
“He is desperate for power and that desperation will lead us somewhere we do not want to go, Journalists please shine your eyes well, cautioned, the PUL outgoing Vice President.
According to him the second and third paragraphs of the elections commission statement to that of the Leadership statement written by Secretary General Daniel Nyakonah who is vying for the Vice Presidential position and is in team Coffey’s camp are the same, this he noted leaves more questions than answers.
The current situation is now opening more rooms for debates, opinions, views, counter views as well as the providing of legal and political information into the matter by journalists mainly in one of the media chart rooms.
According to Journalist Samwar Fallah’s post in the Liberian Media Chart room: The Court will be compelled by Law to Hear the Bill of Information before even hearing the main petition.
The EC is trying to further delay the election with that Statement. They creating more rooms for different issues to be raised which could even push the election to 2020. Just wait for the 10 days let Petitioner file Returns for the Court to Hear and decide. Any deviation is just room for further delays, he added.
As for Journalist Necus Andrews, he stated that:
This is my point, I said let the petitioners seek redress and leave the EC alone. The court is for everyone. Very simple.
Additionally, Journalists Fallah reflected like this:
I gave the same example with the 2014 Senatorial Election. Simeon Freeman filed Prohibition to the Supreme Court against Robert Sirleaf. When Sirleaf filed answer, the Court temporarily lifted the Prohibition pending full Hearing. NEC waited until the full Hearing before setting new election date. Injunction and Prohibition have the same purpose. The major difference is that Injunction is for inferior Courts while Prohibition is for the Supreme Court but they are disposed of the same e way.
It can be recalled that the writ of injunction which brought a temporary halt to the PUL’s election process was filed by few journalists on November 9, 2019 ,namely: Samuel Hisay, Sekou Sheriff and Seeboe Williams among others and was subsequently welcomed and supported by Team Ocatavin due to some of the issues raised therein, including the thorough cleaning up of the voter roll though they were not a Party to it.
With the current legal battle with the PUL elections, the ball is now in the court of the petitioners and the court to do the right thing and let the law take its course and until that can happen, the legal argument and political bitterness and division including wrangling is now the order of the day in the PUL.