Supreme Court Mandates NEC Not To Certificate Samukai

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Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Associate Justices Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh and Yussif D. Kaba, giving their signature on the ruling in the J. Brownie Samukai vs NEC case over the weekend, mandated the National Elections Commission (NEC) not to certificate Samukai who was elected senator for Lofa County during the special senatorial election conducted on December 8, 2020 until the disability imposed on him, as a result of his conviction for felony, is removed.

   The Supreme Court’s judgment added that the writ of prohibition, filed by the Movement for Progressive Change is denied and dismissed, therefore alternative writ of prohibition issued is quashed and the peremptory writ is denied.

   According to the ruling, although the NEC has jurisdiction to certificate a successful candidate in an election, it could be proceeding wrongly if it were to certificate Samukai in the face of the disability imposed on him by his conviction for felony, which has not been removed. “Therefore, the writ of prohibition will lie to prevent the NEC from certificating him as winner of the special senatorial election,” the Supreme Court’s ruling noted.

   “The writ of prohibition is preventive rather than a corrective remedy, and will lie where the court, tribunal or administrative agency, acting in a judicial or quasi- judicial capacity, has no jurisdiction, or where it has jurisdiction, it is proceeding by the wrong rule,” the Court Judgment maintained.

   The ruling added that Samukai and others, who were convicted for felony, have not served the sentence and satisfied the penalty imposed on them by the dictate of the law; therefore, it would be utterly wrong and illegal for the NEC to Certificate Samukai to take his seat as Senator for Lofa County.

   The Supreme Court Judgment further explained that a suspended sentence, such as the sentence imposed on Samukai and others, is a sentence susceptible to revocation on non-compliance with the condition set; thus, he and the others could still be incarcerated if they fail to comply with the terms and conditions of the sentence as prescribed by law.

   The high court noted that the Ministry of Justice is authorized by law to represent the sovereign Republic of Liberia, it organs and officers whenever there is a matter before any Court of the Republic, especially where it is said as in this case, that the law will be violated by an agency of the government by the performance of an act; hence, the Ministry of Justice has the standing to file this petition for the writ of prohibition.

   The Supreme Court revealed that the court has held that the purpose of the law on standing is to protect an improper plaintiff and ensure the benefits of a real part of interest; that a mere interest in a problem, no matter how qualified the part is in evaluating the problem, is not sufficient by itself to render that party adversely affected or aggrieved to give it standing to obtain judicial review, a party seeking judicial review must have suffered a particularity injury.

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