“For constitutional violation”:

MONROVIA – The Liberian Senate has ordered the entire Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC), including the Commission’s chairperson, Madam Davidetta Brown-Lansanah, jailed on contempt charge, for what senators called the NEC Board’s breach of Article 83(c) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.

Commissioners of the NEC 7-member Board of Commissioners

The Plenary of the Senate on Thursday issued the order to have the NEC commissioners incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison on Tuesday 23 February, according to senators, because in the Thursday’s Session of the House of Senate they could not do so on the same day due to time factor, as the time of the issuance of their order to have the commissioners jailed was passed the hour to legally lock behind bars the NEC commissioners.

The Senate Plenary’s order of jail sentence against the NEC commissioners resulted from Sinoe County Senator J. Milton Teahjay’s motion, which was amended by River Gee County Senator Jonathan Boye Charles Sogbie, and unanimously voted upon by senators present in Session, to have members of the NEC Board of Commissioners charged with legislative contempt and be sent to jail on the next Session day of the Senate, since it was late to have the commissioners incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison.

The Senate’s decision to have the NEC Board of Commissioners jailed stemmed from a communication from Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, who in his communication called the Senate’s plenary attention to delay by the National Elections Commission in handling electoral cases, indicating that such delay was impeding the legislative functions of the House of Senate.

Howbeit, members of the NEC Board of Commissioners admitted to being guilty of constitutional violation, but argued that their action which is in breach of Article 83(c) of the Constitution of Liberia is intended to grant due process onto complainants in election-related cases.

According to Article 83(c) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia: “The returns of the elections shall be declared by the Elections Commission not later than fifteen days after the casting of ballots. Any party or candidate who complains about the manner in which the elections were conducted or who challenges the results thereof shall have the right to file a complaint with the Elections Commission. Such complaint must be filed not later than seven days after the announcement of the elections.

The Elections Commission shall, within thirty days of receipt of the complaint, conduct an impartial investigation and render a decision which may involve a dismissal of the complaint or a nullification of the election of a candidate. Any political party or independent candidate affected by such decision shall not later than seven days appeal against it to the Supreme Court.

“The Elections Commission shall within seven days of receipt of the notice of appeal; forward all the records in the case to the Supreme Court, which not later than seven days thereafter, shall hear and make its determination. If the Supreme Court nullifies or sustains the nullification of the election of any candidate, for whatever reasons, the Elections Commission shall within sixty days of the decision of the Court conduct new elections to fill the vacancy. If the court sustains the election of a candidate, the Elections Commission shall act to effectuate the mandate of the Court.” On 8 December 8 2020, the National Elections Commission conducted a National Referendum and Special Senatorial Elections across Liberia’s 15 political sub-divisions – and legislative analysts are contending that consistent with the Constitution of Liberia, the NEC should have by now concluded all election-related cases, but the analyst contends that contrarily and in contravention of the Constitution, until the time of the Senate’s contempt charge was brought against the Board of Commissioners of the NEC, several electoral matters are still before the Commission pending adjudication.

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