The Supreme Court has urged the National Election Commission (NEC) to speed up investigation into fraud and irregularity complaints arising from the October 10, 2017 legislative and presidential elections.
Chief Justice Francis Korkpor said he does not want people thinking that the case is before the Supreme Court and that it is the high court that is dragging its adjudication.
“Whatever the current situation is the case should be decided first at the National Election Commission before it can come up to us through an appeal process. So if you (NEC) go down there and play lot of technicalities with the case so as to waste time, you won’t be truthful to us and the nation,” Chief Justice Korkpor said.
The Chief Justice’s position on NEC’s handling of the post elections complaints was made on Friday, November 3, 2017 during legal arguments between the Liberty Party and NEC over whether prohibition on the runoff will lie to prevent the Commission from conducting the polls.
Prior to the Chief Justice’s statement, the Commission has argued that it was overwhelmed with conducting the runoff election and at the same time conducting thorough investigation into the Liberty Party’s complaint.
NEC’s lawyer Cllr. Musa Dean of NEC told the high court that the Commission was supported by the Constitution to carry on the two events simultaneously and that the NEC was not proceeding by the wrong rules.
“We are not proceeding by wrong rules because the Liberty Party has a complaint that we are looking at but now while looking into their complaint, the Constitution also give us mandate to conduct runoff and that’s what we are doing,” Cllr. Musa Dean said.
Citing legal reliance, he said:”Article 83 (c) of the 1986 Constitution states that the Commission shall within 30 days of receipt of complaint, conduct an impartial investigation and render a decision which may involve a dismissal of the complaint or nullification of the election of a candidate. Any candidate or political party affected by such decision shall no later than 7 days appeal against it to the Supreme Court.”
He requested the court to take judicial notice that the Liberty Party filed its complaint on October 23, 2017. He said even though they have 30 days, they have since commence hearing of the complaint and will definitely conclude before the expiry of the 30 days allotted by the Constitution.
Cllr. Dean called on the high court to deny the party’s prohibition request and order NEC to go ahead with the election.
Writes P. Nas Mulbah