The Press Union of Liberia (PUL), has prayed the Civil Law Court to deny and dismiss the purported petition filed recently against the Union by two members of the Union who were disqualified prior to the PUL’s cancelled election.
In response against the lawsuit, the Respondents called on the Civil Law Court to deny what it calls the so-called Petitioners with cost of court against the petitioners; and, grant unto Respondents all and any further relief that the court may deem just and equitable in the premises.
In its return to the lawsuit, the PUL further called on the court to deny and dismiss the case on grounds that the Petitioners do not have any rights to be declared, for having waived their rights and submitted to a vetting process that discovered that they are qualified to be accredited as candidates, they are stopped from challenging the conduct of the process as to do so will be aiding them to benefit from their own wrong.
In the suit two members of the PUL, Cholo Brooks and Omecee Johnson argued that the doctrine of estoppel prohibits, inhibits and prevents or precludes “a person from denying or asserting anything to the contrary of that which has, in contemplation of law, been established as the truth, either by the acts of judicial or legislative officers, or by his own deed, acts, or representations, either expressed or implied. But Respondents argued that count one says a party who has voluntarily and conditionally waived his rights and submitted to a vetting process whether regular or irregular, certainly is estopped from asserting any claims challenging the outcome of that process because that doctrine of estoppel prohibits and precludes that party from benefiting from his/her own wrong and courts of law will not be in error if they deny and petition filed before them by such party.
The PUL wants a right to assert a claim, a party must either directly or indirectly be injured, and can do so either by himself or by a third party in a representative capacity, provided that the party asserting such claims is not attempting to benefit from its own wrong, as in the instant case.
Respondents also requested the court to take judicial notice of chapter 11, section 11.2(e) of the Civil Procedure Law. They further argued that Article 8(b), titled: “Qualifications of Officers” provides: “A journalist or member of the Union aspiring for the position of President shall satisfy the following requirements that a contestant for the President of the Union be a holder of at least Bachelor degree in any field of study and served in the media for 10 years or above, and risen to the rank of editor, program director, senior program producer.
Respondents (PUL) says pursuant to this provision of the PUL Revised Constitution and By-Laws, the Elections Commission set up its guidelines with specific emphasis on the qualification of a presidential candidate to be at least a Bachelor degree holder. The PUL further argued that the entire membership of the PUL unquestionably embraced this constitutional provision including Co-Petitioner J. Cholo Brooks, and as a result of this, he (Brooks) opting to vie for the PUL presidency submitted his credentials for critical review and approval by the Elections Commission.
The Union said a sustained and rigorous process of due diligence conducted by the Elections Commission shows that J. Cholo Brooks did not hold a Bachelor degree; and moreover, the institution that he claimed to have received his Bachelor degree from, is and was never a full-fledged degree granting institution as clearly supported by interviews conducted with past students and graduates of the school. Further, the College of Professional Studies which was listed by Mr. Brooks has been blacklisted by the Ministry of Education as a substandard school.
The Union then gave notice to court to subpoena documents of the schools as well as students to prove these allegations. The PUL said Co-petitioner Brooks was therefore rejected because he did not meet the minimum qualification.
Among other things, the Union argued that Brooks is estopped from asserting any further claims on grounds that having submitted to the vetting process and later discovered to be someone who did not meet the constitutional requirement to be a presidential candidate based on the false and misleading information provided the Elections Commission, he is stopped from attempting to use the court, to aid and abet his inordinate desire to vie for the PUL presidency by the use of false credentials.