The Supreme Court of Liberia is hearing its first Code of Conduct case, four months after upholding the law constitutionality.
On Tuesday, the Court issued a writ of prohibition on the National Election Commission (NEC) on the basis of a complaint filed by Mr. Abu Bana Kamara, a representative aspirant for Montserrado County District # 15.
Mr. Kamara who currently holds the position of Assistant Post and Telecommunication Minister for Administration has informed the High Court that the elections governing body has rejected his nomination for a seat in the House of Representatives.
A divided Supreme Court On March 4 this year upheld the constitutionality of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Government Employees as constitutional.
On July 4, Kamara petitioned the Court for a writ of prohibition to be filed on the National Election Commission in order to prevent, restrain, enjoin, stop and prohibit the Commission from denying him as a representative aspirant in the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, as it has done.
The Supreme Court upon receipt of the petition on the same day July 4, 2017 at 5: 21 pm issued the writ of prohibition with the following words: “You are hereby commanded to notify the National Election Commission (NEC), represented by and thru its Chairman, Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya and all officers of NEC, all of the City of Monrovia, County of Montserrado, Republic of Liberia, Respondents in the above entitled cause of action to appear before the full bench of the Honorable Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia, on Monday, July 10, 2017, at the hour of 9:00 am to show cause why petitioner’s petition as prayed for should not be granted.”
The writ continue: “you are further commanded to instruct the Respondent herein to file its Returns to this writ in the Office of the Clerk of this Honorable Court on or before the said 10th day of July A. D. 2017.”
Minister Kamara said argued he has met all requirements regarding completion of candidates nomination filling process prescribed by the NEC, but the commission without any legal basis and support consistent with due process denied and rejected him on ground that the “candidate is barred from contesting by the Code of Conduct for public officials.”
He said the action and ground relied upon by the commission to summarily reject him is inconsistent with law; thus in violation of chapter 3, Article 20(a) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia which states that ‘No persons shall be deprived of life liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any right except as an outcome of a process of law.’
The junior government minister said contrary to this law, the commission failed to accord him the right to be heard and neither was there administrative proceedings that provides him a notice of the specific violation; the right to appeal a judgment growing out of the hearing.
The notice of rejection failed to state specifically the provision of the code of conduct for public officials that was alleged to be violated or breached,” he said.
“Therefore, this honorable Supreme Court has the legal authority to declare NEC action against me as unlawful, arbitrary and unconstitutional.”
The New Democrat has earlier reported Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the National Code of Conduct as constitutional is being respected to the extent that the National Elections Commission has made certain provision of the law an eligibility criteria for individuals seeking to occupy the nation’s highest political office and legislative seats.
The High Court in its majority ruling on similar case said the law is in the Supreme interest of the Liberian people to protect the resources of the country from abuse by public officials and to create a plain level political field for all contesting candidates.
“ the Act is not, in our opinion, repugnant to, or in conflict with any provision of the constitution to warrant its declaration as being unconstitutional as contended by the appellee/petitioner,” the Court said
Part (V) of the Act reads “5.1 All Officials appointed by the President of the Republic of Liberia shall not:
a) engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices;
b) use Government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities;
c) serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.
By P. Nas Mulbah