Reports coming out of the Liberia Football Association (LFA), says Rep. Adolph Lawrence has been cleared by the Appeals Committee of the LFA’s Elections to further participate in the electoral process slated for this weekend in the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
On March 6, the LFA Elections Committee announced the disqualification of incumbent Vice President for Operations, Adolph Akwe Lawrence, who was temporarily barred on February 27, for what they referred to as double nomination by a single club, Gardnersville FC. Adolph was disqualified along with Invincible Eleven (IE) former Vice President, Alfred Sayon, in keeping with chapter 25, article 58.2 of the LFA statutes. The committee later affirmed its decision to disqualify Fulani FC ex-President, Alieu Bah, in keeping with chapter 21, article 45.4 of the statutes.
Following the pronouncement from the Elections Committee, candidates raised serious issues on what they described as ‘election guideline violations.’
The two aspirants for the LFA Executive Committee (EC) claimed that the Elections Committee violated LFA’s Approved Statutes, referencing Article 58.2 which states: “No one (1) member shall propose two (2) or more candidates, ” which they said should have been sufficient for the process.
With those claims, the process was challenged with a written complaint filed at the Appeals Committee seeking the intervention and interpretation. After careful review of the appeal, the Appeals Committee reportedly ruled in favor of the ‘greed administrator.’
Though it has not been officially confirmed by the local football house, the indications that the appeal holds and that Rep. Lawrence could be allowed to partake in the electoral process. Whether he will be given additional time to campaign is now left to the committee to decide.
Mustpaha Raji, head of LISCR FC, who filed the appeal, argued that, Article 9 of the LFA’s Electoral Code acknowledges the primacy of the statutes when it states: “The eligibility criteria are defined by the code and the LFA statutes and must comply with the statutes and regulations of FIFA.”
He further quoted FIFA’s electoral code article 26 which states that “Failure by the association (member) to apply the principles of this code shall be considered a serious violation of the provisions of article 13 of the FIFA Statutes…”
Chapter 25, article 58.2 of the LFA newly approved statues says, “No one (1) member shall propose two (2) or more candidates.”
That violation of the LFA’s Statute prompted the Elections Committee to name only FC Fassell’s President, Cassell A. Kouh, Sr. as the lone qualified candidate for the Vice President for Operations position.
Not only that Adolph and Sayon were nominated by the same club in violation of the rules, but that their documents from the same club had questionable signatures.
It can be recalled that March 18, 2007 marked one year when the then leadership of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) was inaugurated. The first of the four-year term, the activities of the LFA was marred by huge division and imbroglios. The entire rigmarole started when Lawrence formed an alliance with defeated Presidential candidate, Mr. Siaka A. Sheriff, to unseat the incumbent, Cllr. Sombo Izetta Wesley.
Rep. Lawrence was termed as a dark horse in the race, not only because he had just returned to the country following a long stay in the United States but also owing to the fact that he carries a stigma vis-à-vis allegations (yet to be denied by him) that he stole huge sums of money from the Catholic School System to bankroll the defunct St. Anthony FC.
When the long-awaited March 18 arrived in Kakata, Margibi County; to the disbelief of football connoisseurs and voters, Lawrence shockingly but convincingly defeated Weeks at the polls.
Then came the time for Lawrence to prove his critics wrong that his victory was not a fluke; the former St. Anthony owner reportedly gathered what is now the infamous ‘Big Eight’ that is made up of Moustapha Raji, Idrissa Kaba, Mohamed Sheriff, Peter Kabia, Urias Glaybo and the late Abayomie O. Caulcrick.
They were all supporters of Sheriff during the LFA’s elections and therefore decided to work in unison as an opposition party to the LFA’s boss since their ‘man’ did not win.
Accordingly, the first mission of the so-called ‘Big Eight’ was to remove the then Secretary-General, Yanqueh S. Borsay. Their decision was hailed by all sides of the divide considering the view that Borsay was ineffective in LFA’s activities.
But the actual motive behind the removal of Borsay stemmed from a plan to have a Secretary-General who would not be answerable to the LFA boss, Cllr. Wesley, alone. The insinuation was proven right after the ‘Big Eight’ led by Adolph subsequently threw out the names of Malcolm Pegee Wright and John Rufus Ballah for the obvious reason that they were confidants of the LFA’s President.
Day in, day out, the battle to appoint a new Secretary-General raged on; sometimes Executive Committee meetings ended in aloof fashions until George Wah Williams and Washington Blay alias Defense Minister were nominated for the post. But, the selection of Williams did not occur on a silver platter as sources had it that the ‘Big Eight’ consulted the former LFA President Edwin Snowe for a go-ahead.
Although the Liberia National Olympic Committee (LNOC) intervened later, there were still troubles mounting amidst a pushing campaign reportedly spearheaded by Lawrence to have the LFA President removed. The anti-Wesley campaigners were said to have visited various stakeholders to solicit their signatures.
Football stakeholders were deeply worried and some who claimed to have mistakenly voted for Lawrence were beginning to regret the second, minute and hour they voted him to power. They think the way out is to kick the troublesome figure out of the way of football development, otherwise more feuds were imminent.
Sometime last year, the executive committee of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) suspended Rep. Lawrence, for reportedly walking out of an Executive Committee meeting on April 16.
Rep. Lawrence’s presence at the local football house has not been healthy for the growth of the game, as he has been described from far back as the ‘VIRUS’ at the local football house. One thing that was clear; a bitter lesson was learnt and it was believed that never again should the wrong person be placed in a position of trust.
Already, some followers of the game have blamed Rep. Lawrence for being insensitive to the very statute that they approved. Others have said that Rep. Lawrence’s failure to observe such guideline clearly shows how inactive he had been, despite serving as Vice President for Operation (VPO) of the local football house for the last eight years.
The majority of the stakeholders have blamed Rep. Lawrence for the abandonment of his post, therefore terming his denial by the elections Committee as a ‘just clear manifestation’ of his lack of interest in the job. Rep. Adolph Lawrence has served in that capacity for eight unbroken years and is vying for reelection. D. Webster Cassell writes