The Civil Law Court says in the interest of justice and fair play it has found facts in the Injunction filed by disqualified aspirants in the elections of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) J. Cholo Brooks and G. Omecee Johnson for which the Motion to Dismiss the Petition for Declaratory Judgment cannot be granted lawyers representing the PUL.
On November 8, respondents Brooks and Johnson through their legal counsel filed a five-count Petition for Declaratory Judgment along with a motion for preliminary Injunction contending that as good standing members of the PUL they were denied from participating in the elections.
Their protest bordered on not being accorded due process by the Election Commission having been notified that Journalist Johnson was performing Public Relations at the Leymah Gbowee Foundation as well as Mr. Brooks who had inconsistency in the submission of his document to the Commission.
The movants/respondents representing the PUL presented a motion to vacate the preliminary injunction and filed a 21-count resistance to the Petition for Declaratory Judgment and a seven-count motion to dismiss the said petition that under the Doctrine of Estoppel that is having participated in the exercise they cannot challenge the outcome thereof therefore they are barred from denying their own conduct.
The movants said the respondents lack the legal capacity or standing to maintain the action in the petition as a consequence of their action and pray the court to dismiss the petition but the respondents’ argument in their counter-resistance was that they are bona-fide and due paying members of the Union and request the court to deny the motion for dismissal of the injunction.
The Civil Law Court presided over by Judge Boima Kontoe told the parties that there is one genuine issue determinative of the matter at bar and that is the motion to dismiss present factual issues which must be passed on by the court.
Judge Kontoe said the contention that Messers Brooks and Johnson do not meet the requirements of the election commission is an issue of fact that must be established and the burden of establishing that the two aggrieved journalists do not meet the requirements to participate in the elections is upon the Commission to prove especially when it had said that the two journalists did not meet the requisite requirements as per the guidelines.
The court citing Supreme Court’s opinion in previous cases quoted, “The burden of the prove rests on he who asserts a claim and also on he who alleges the existence of a fact must prove it and he must do so by the best available.”
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Reporters’ Association is calling all journalists as well as aggrieved parties to remain calm as the matter is before the court. The leadership said it is disheartening to see journalists who are watchdogs fight among themselves in the name of democracy.
The leadership is expected to hold a mass meeting today at the Union’s headquarters on the way forward which according to them would be an out-of-court arrangement. The call by the leadership of the Reporters’ Association buttresses the ongoing interventions by the Publishers’ Association which is also seeking an internal dialogue to lay the matter to rest finally.
However, lawyers representing the PUL have given notice to the court to seek an appeal at the Supreme Court on the denial of their motion, a request that was granted by the lower court. It is rumored that the outgoing President Peter Quaqua told his colleagues yesterday following the ruling and appealed that he would give an official statement on Saturday concerning how the leadership with barely three weeks in office will proceed amidst the delays in the holding of an election for smooth transition.