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In Nimba Electoral ‘Irregularities’ Hearing: Edith Gongloe-Weh Takes Witness Stand

Nimba County’s contending senatorial candidate in the just ended elections, Edith Gongloe-Weh, has taken the witness stand to prove her allegations of fraud and irregularities perpetrated by staffers of the National Elections Commission.

The NEC hearing officer, Cllr Boakai Harris, on Monday informed all parties to appear at the Commission yesterday with their witnesses as well as with all their oral and written evidences so as to go into the merits of the matter as it bordered on the integrity of the commission.

Article 10, supported by Chapter 6, Section 6.1 of the New Elections Law, under Contested Elections, provides amongst other things, “That a political party, or candidate who feels cheated in an election shall have the right to file a complaint with the commission, and such complaint must be filed no later than seven days after the announcement of the result of said elections.”

Therefore, Madam Gongloe-Weh who is the plaintiff and has the burden to prove her case provided her testimony of the case at bar and reminded the hearing officer that indeed she feels cheated and is therefore requesting the NEC to conduct a re-run in district # 8 while a recount and audit be held in district # 4 & 5 in Nimba County.

As the first witness for the respondent, Madam Gongloe-Weh on Wednesday, December 23, apparently did not begin by answering specific questions about the precincts where the alleged irregularities occurred instead she deferred them to her legal representation.

The witness however, presented photos of the alleged broken seals as well as pictures of the open ballot boxes without TEEs to support her argument and the tampering of votes by the final results of the vote counts posted on the walls in the respective districts.

Madam Gongloe-Weh blamed the Liberia National Police for not securing the safety of the ballot boxes and other election materials.

During day one’s hearing, the lead lawyer of the movants, Cllr. Cooper Kruah’s question focused particularly on the precinct or polling places where the fraud or Irregularities were alleged to have occurred, but madam Gongloe-Weh’s team of lawyers referred to the complaint filed before the NEC reminding them that it speaks for itself.

Cllr. Kruah’s questions were objected to on several occasions by her lawyers as they in turn tutored her to wait before answering and question as some might be over-ruled by the hearing officer.

The respondent’s legal team is poised to prove the allegations of fraud and irregularities and a need to overturn the elections result that qualifies Jeremiah Koung as the senator-elect of Nimba County thus retiring Thomas Grupee.

However, Article 4, Section 4.2 of the New Elections Law also provides that “The said complaint shall state clearly the particulars of the person complained of, the act complained of, and the date and place of occurrence.”

The movant’s legal team is requesting the complainant to show evidence of the claims that tends to drag the electoral process into the mud maintaining that there was absolutely no irregularities and fraud carried out at any precinct in the county’s just ended senatorial elections.

The movant’s lawyer said the omissions of the required particularities, such as the date and place of the occurrence in the act complained of and the particulars of the actor on the part of the plaintiff, contravenes the said provision.

The trial was therefore adjourned for Monday December 28, 2020.

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