National Election Commission’s Chief dispute hearing officer Cllr. Munah S. Ville has dismissed and denied lawsuit filed by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other expelled executives of the Unity Party because they did not exhaust the remedy provided by the Constitution of the Party to resolve grievances.
Cllr. Ville handing down his ruling on Friday, February 23, 2018 said while the ex-president and others were complaining that some members of the party violated provision of the party’s constitution when they expelled them, they themselves also violated provision of the same constitution regarding the exhaustion of remedy.
He said based on such violation of the party’s constitution regarding exhaustion of remedy by the expelled partisans, he as a hearing officer lacks jurisdiction over the matter. He therefore mandated them to proceed to exhaust the remedy available to them within the UP before proceeding to the NEC.
According to Cllr. Ville, the doctrine of exhaustion is the cardinal principle of universal application. It requires that where a remedy is provided before an agency relief must be sought by exhausting said remedy before a court or tribunal acts.
He added section 3.3 of the regulation and guidelines relating to political parties and independent candidates promulgated by NEC provides that every political party shall ensure the creation of a grievance & ethics committee in its structure. The committee should ensure that every partisan is given due process in time of dispute.
There is no showing either by their submission or argument that they have complained to the National Coordinating Committee [UP’s appeal board] of the party and did not get redress or that an adverse decision has been made against them, the hearing officer said.
“Wherefore, in view of analysis made above, the case filed by the expelled UP partisans is denied and dismissed for their failure to exhaust the remedy available to them within the UP’s Constitution and also other reasons.”
Meanwhile, Cllr. Jonathan Massoquoi lawyer representing the interest of the expelled members took exception to the ruling and announced an appeal to NEC board of commissioners.
ON January 13, the Unity Party expelled then President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for “sabotage and undermining the party’s 2017 presidential campaign.
The vote to expel Johnson Sirleaf and three other party officials including the Secretary General of the Mano River Union Mrs. Medina Wesseh is rooted in several violations of the party’s constitution and other acts inimical to the existence and reputation of the party, a statement issued Sunday in Monrovia after UP’s National Executive Committee reached the decision said.
Writes P. Nas Mulbah