PUL Crisis Deepens, Neutrality Questions, As Aggrieved Party’s Lawyers Castoff Saturday Election’s Results

Embattled Presidential candidate, Octavin Torgar Williams addressing the media on Saturday, November 9th, 2019 on the Court Injunction imposed on the process

Lawyers representing the aggrieved members of the Press Union of Liberia who last week filed an injunction on the holding of election due to what they called the tempering with the voters’ roll by the election commission have taken serious exception the last Saturday election.

According to information gathered by the GNN, the lawyers and their clients, the aggrieved PUL members will on Monday, November 18, 2019 reach to Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court ‘B’ of Montserrado County to file a bill of information on what happened on last Saturday at the Union office on Clay Street in disobedience to the court’s ruling to halt said election.

According to Saturday’s unchallenged election results, incumbent Press Union of Liberia (PUL) President, Charles Coffey, out of a total vote cot of 1, 172, registered voters,  received a total of 401, while his unchallenged opposition received a total of 19 votes.

Interestingly, the TeamOctavinWilliams, had earlier announced a butt-cut of the elections on grounds that the polls were illegal and unconstitutional, given that an ‘injunction and temporary restrain’ order was instituted by the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court ‘B’ of for Montserrado County, His Honor Rolan F. Dahn, which was anticipated to be respected under a democratic rule .

For the Vice Presidential category, incumbent Secretary General, Daniel Nyankonoh , received a total votes of 355, against his main unchallenged opponent Weemon J. Cole-Boyce, with 51 votes.

For Secretary General post, Musa Kanneh, a candidate of the Charles Coffey team, with a total  vote of 308,  emerged victorious against E.J. Nathaniel Daygobor, of the TeamOctavinWilliams, with a total votes of 96, even though he did not challenge or appear at the polling precinct .

In the category of Assistant Secretary General, Akoi M. Baysoh, Jr., of Liberty Radio, swept a total vote of 195, against Jutonu Y. Kolie, of the TeamOctavinWilliams, with 67, even though he had announced a butt-cut; while , Moses K. Garzeowu, Correspondent of the Voice of America to Liberia, received a total vote of 145.

Hypocritically, the polls had only one independent observer named Rev. Augustine S. Arkoi, uncle to the preferred winner of the Assistant Secretary General and spiritual leader to incumbent PUL President Charles Coffey.

Evidently, the Secretary of the 2019 Elections Commission, Miss Teetee C. Karneh, refused to sign the attestation note validating the elections result held on today.

It may be recorded , today’s PUL election followed a ‘Bill of Information’ submitted by petition earlier on yesterday, November, 15, 2019, seeking the CIVIL Law Court to uphold its earlier writ of Injunction and temporary restrain on the holding of the PUL Elections until concerns raised by petitioners into the publication and clean-up of the voters roll was conducted and other contending issues related to the 2019 Elections of the PUL were addressed in keeping with the PUL bylaws and constitution.

It may recalled, regardless of yesterday’s reinforcement by assigned Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court ‘B’ of for Montserrado County, His Honor Rolan F. Dahn, for a writ of Injunction and temporary restrain order on the conduct of the Press Union Elections, following a Bill of Information, the leadership of the PUL in conjunction with its 2019 Elections Committee are about now conducting voting activities at the headquarters of the Press Union of Liberia.

Early this morning supporters of Charles Coffey, began forming cues in anticipation of voting which commenced a while ago.

The defiance of the Court order on a Bill of Information by the leadership of the Press Union now sends out unfavorable feelings across the country as the mirror and the leading catalyst for the substance of democracy.

It may be recalled, yesterday, November 15, 2019, the assigned Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court ‘B’ of for Montserrado County, His Honor Roland F. Dahn, reinforced recent injunction and temporary restrain on the holding of elections by the 2019 Election Committee of the Press Union of Liberia, until ‘declaratory Judgment’ were heard ,and a final  determination is made in earlier petition for a cancellation of the Union’s election.

Judge Roland Dahn, reinforcement order followed a Bill of Information filed by lawyers representing some aggrieved petitioners of the Press Union of Liberia.

Additionally, the sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court, of Montserrado County, a week ago placed a ‘notice of injunction and temporary restraining order’, on the much publicized election of the Press Union of Liberia.

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 Stated: “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.”

Interestingly, Six days thereafter, the same Civil Law court published the lifting of the temporary injunction placed on the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) election, with a ‘preliminary notice.

Minutes after the temporary lifting of the injunction, the Chairman of the PUL 2019 Election Committee, Jarlawah Tonpo, announced the holding of poll within two days (Saturday, November 16), contrary to the universal and democratic principles for administering elections and election related activities in which parties involved in the election process prior to the injunction are called back to set a new date and time for the holding of the elections as encouraged by every transparent electoral body.

Tonpo, however, commended the PUL membership for respecting the rule of law and exercising restraint while the union’s legal team worked on lifting the injunction.

Minutes after the issuant of the notice by Jarlawah Tonpo, for the resumption of election activities, Team Octavin (supporters of Octavin Williams for PUL Presidency) swiftly responded in a strong worded press statement terming the unilateral call for the resumption of voters poll for the PUL election as a ‘glaring act of mischief which presents its naked desire to proceed with a fraudulent poll.”

According to team Octavin, there has been no judicial outcome of the case and that would necessitate a draw up of new date as insinuated by Tonpo and likes Charles Coffey.

TeamOctavinWilliams wonders why the 2019 PUL Election chairman, Jarlawah Tonpo, is spreading misinformation intended to cause confusion amongst journalists and plunge the Union into credibility crisis.

The Team Octavin Williams stated that ‘the information provided by Tonpo and the leadership excluding Octavin T. Williams for the resumption of election activities is contrary to a deliberate and selfish attempt to bring the integrity of the Judiciary into question and public disrepute.

They stated that the defendants in the case, including the very Election Committee have both filed their various responses to the lawsuit filed by petitioners, journalists Siebo Williams, Omecee Johnson, Sekou Sheriff and Samuel Hasay, which raises question to the limited understanding of the defendants to comprehend legal matters especially when the matter has been opened and hearing into the case are scheduled for Saturday, November 23, 2019.

Team Octavin has, however, urged all members of the Press Union of Liberia to respect the rule of law and ignore the Election Commissioner Jarlawah Tonpo’s call for the holding of elections on tomorrow Saturday, November 16, 2019.

The petitioners bill of information stated that ‘while the subject matter of injunction and temporary restrain was placed on the holding of the PUL elections, with subsequent undecided ruling before the honorable court, the respondents (leadership of PUL), have  commenced the process of electioneering , by announcing the continuation of campaign activities and have therefore set tomorrow Saturday, November 16, as voting day, for the election of new corps of officers of the Press Union of Liberia.

Count two of the Bill of Information also states that ‘ that the respondents’ contrary to law as held by the court in the case Kpoto vs Kpoto marked in the LLR 34, the court heard the bill of information before proceeding with the temporary lifting of the injunction of proceedings.

Count three of the Bill of Information , informed His Honor Roland Dahn, that contrary to the granting of a ten days period by the respondents to file a reply to the petitioners, the respondent resistance proceedings are disrespectful to the mandate of the court which requires his attention.

Moving further, the Bill of Information, requested the assigned Judge to enjoin Respondents from further proceeding with the conduct of election for the Press Union of Liberia on Saturday, November 16, 2019, until the final determination into the issues in accordance with law.

Importantly, the petitioners Bill of Information furthermore reminded the Court that they are legitimate Associate member and full members of the Press Union of Liberia and are entitled to partake in a free, fair and transparent elections of the PUL where voter roll is free from fraud and other forms of misrepresentation, which the defendants were refusing and failing to ensure in cleaning the voters roll to pave way for a credible election for the watchdog body, the Press Union of Liberia.

The Bill of Information additionally, challenged the Charles Coffey administration to proof the contrary in a legal and constituted court.

Meanwhile, supporters of Charles Coffey main challenger, incumbent Vice President Octavin T. Williams has called on supporters to butt-cut the polls and respect the court order.

In a brief interview with IPNews a while ago, Vice President Octavin Williams, stated that his campaign team is not moved by the illegal gathering and voting currently being conducted by Mr. Coffey and likes Jarlawah Tonpo.

He said he will remain a law abiding citizen and a respecter of the law as required of a professional Journalist.

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About Cholo Brooks 12598 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.