Hundreds of Liberian journalists who as early as 9am this morning, November 9, 2019 gathered on the grounds of the headquarters of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) to cast their votes for their preferred choice for the leadership of the Union for the next three years were today greeted with a writ from Civil Law Court ‘B’ placing injunction on the process.
According to the complainant, the reason that led to the injunction from the Civil Law Court ‘B’ to halt the process is based on grounds that the voters’ roll needed to be cleaned due to its overcrowdings with over one thousand four hundred names, the complainant alleged was unusual.
The arrival of a Sheriff from the Court with the writ for the injunction created huge concerns amongst dozens of journalists who had queued on line to cast their votes, as many begin to ponder over the outcome of the process, few minutes later the Chairman of the PUL Election Committee, Jarlawah Tonpo was seen leaving the grounds for the court.
In the notice of injunction and temporary restraining order, directed to PUL president Charles B. Coffey, Daniel Nyankona, Secretary General, Jarlawah Tonpo, Chairman, PUL Elections Commission, and others acting and operating under said authority, Judge Roland Dahn, assigned Circuit Judge, informed the pairs that they are restrained and enjoined from further proceeding to conduct the elections, until the court shall finally determine the petitioner’s request for cancellation of the ensuing PUL elections.
Judge Roland Dahn Injunction Order States: “You and all person or persons whomsoever acting directly or indirectly under your supervision or authority are hereby temporarily restrained and enjoined from further proceeding to conduct the elections of corps of officers of the Press Union of Liberia and other election-related activities thereto, until the court shall finally determine the petitioner’s petition which is now pending before it. Or until further notice from the court;
“And you are also notified of the petitioner’s petition for preliminary injunction and that you are hereby required to appear before this honorable court on or before the 19 day of November A.D. 2019. If this preliminary injunction should not be granted and a writ of injunction ordered issued against you.”
It may be recalled the PUL on Monday, announced the explosion of one of its Associate member, for unruly conduct exhibited by popular talk show host Journalist Sekou Sheriff.
According to an investigation, minutes after the PUL issued the expulsion order on Journalist Sekou Sheriff, reveals that the Journalist contended injustice due to the PUL leadership refusal to grant him a full member card after he has met the requirement for full member and subsequent payment made for his member card to the leadership of the PUL.
Our investigation further established that Journalist Sheriff, denial was based on his closed ties to Charles Coffey man challenger incumbent Vice President Octavin Williams.he injunction by the Civil Law court, this afternoon follows a request by Petitioners for the cancellation of the ensuing PUL election due gross violation of the PUL Constitution and ill-regularities of the process leading to the election.
In the petitioners request before Judge Roland Dahn, the petitioners prayed that the leadership of the PUL could not go ahead to conduct the election due to inconsistencies of the PUL membership roll.
Another issued cited by the petitioners , is the willful violation of the PUL constitutional provision establishing a time line for the publication of the entire membership roll within 30 days prior to the holding of elections.
Other points raised in the petitioner’s petition was the expulsion of Journalist Sekou Sheriff, in violation of Article 29, of the PUL constitution, which the petitioners argued that he was not accorded ue process and the action against Journalist Sekou Sheriff was illegal and done with malevolence .
Interestingly, the petitioners stated that the continuous glaring, deliberate and flagrant constitutional breaches and violations perpetrated by the leadership of Charles Coffey, have the proclivity to impugn upon the integrity of the PUL and render it a club of cronyism, if left unaddressed.
Additionally, the petitioners petition states that those constitutional violations which range from illegal recruitment of individuals who have not been certified by the criteria as Journalist, whose applications must first be submitted to the Secretary General and subsequently forwarded to the membership committee for subsequent action as guaranteed by Article 18 (a), and circulation to institutional membership, copies of financial reports and statements and comprehensive reports of programs and projects during the stewardship of the leadership for the last three years was not observed and taken into consideration as required by law.
Furthermore, the petition further states and attempt to abort the prerogatives of the Rule of Law and proceed on the contrary to continue recruitment of illegitimate members for the purpose of participating and voting in the ensuing PUL elections, as stated in article 4, section 1 (a) I & II, is unwarranted and would cast aspersion on the integrity of the Press Union of LIBERIA and its accompanying results which would not represent the democratic aspirations of professional Journalist organization.
The writ of injunction and temporary restrain order was received by lawyers representing the PUL leadership headed by Cllr. Bobby Livingstone, while the petitioner’s lawyer filling the writ for cancellation was Atty. Patrice Weah.
Now with the issuance of a writ of injunction and temporary restrain order on the elections of corps of officers to take the PUL for the next three years, legal pundits are wondering the legal reliance and legitimacy of the Charles Coffey leadership to continue to reside over the matters of Union, as their tenure comes to an end effective November 30th, 2019 .
However, the constitution of the PUL remain silent on the matter but states that the highest decision making body of the PUL is the plenary of the Congress which has since expired yesterday.
The petitioners are: Sekou Sherif, W. Omecce Johnson, Sebo Williams, and Samuel Halsey, all of the city of Monrovia.
The Press Union of Liberia was founded on September 30, 1964 by a group of independent journalists. It serves as an umbrella organization for media professionals and institutions to advocate for press freedom and the legal protection of journalists.
The PUL collaborates with local, national and international organizations including the Liberian Ministry of Information, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), West African Journalists Association (WAJA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).