SWAL Election Suffers Setback
--Court Issues Writ Of Injunction
--Membership Accreditation Ordered Reopened
By Julu Johnson
The Majority Bloc of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 succeeded in putting a halt to the controversial SWAL election of 2015. The election has now been halted twice.
The petitioners, led by Momoh Siryon, Treasurer, and Edwin Boy Dolo, Assistant Secretary-General, filed a Petition for Preliminary Injunction against the SWAL leadership, headed by Roland Mulbah, and the Elections Commission, with Ernest McCay as Acting Chairman.
The Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court before his Honor Peter W. Gbeneweleh, Assigned Circuit Judge, therefore issued a Notice of Preliminary Injunction as far as the process is concerned.
The court ordered its Sheriff that SWAL leadership and Election Commission (respondents/defendants) should be stopped from holding any form of election for officers of the association.
The court also ordered SWAL President Mulbah and corp of officers from conducting the affairs of SWAL.
According to the court, there should be a reopening of the membership accreditation process to accommodate members who were denied their participation in the process, until otherwise ordered.
Following the unveiling of the court order, SWAL President Mulbah was left with no other alternative but to obey as required by law.
For his part, Jallah Grayfield, Vice President, Press Union of Liberia (PUL), welcomed the decision by the Majority Bloc to channel their grievances through the court.
He indicated that both the PUL and SWAL, as an auxiliary group, respect the court order and vowed to obey thereof.
Mr. Grayfield then warned both parties in the crisis to exercise tolerance while the matter is being adjudicated.
Meanwhile, prior to the court order, the SWAL Congress, which should has preceded the election in question, witnessed heated arguments involving rival parties and PUL President Kamara A. Kamara.
The PUL President went as far as ordering two members of the Majority Bloc, Sally Gaye and Richard Manuba, out of the hall but they resisted.
Mr. Kamara called for police to execute his command but none of his subordinates could leave the interesting scene.
With the case now before the court, it remains to be seen whether the sticky issue concerning the reopening of the membership accreditation process will be settled. Those left out of the controversial membership listing comprise former officials, veterans and active sports writers. They include Henry Flomo, Momolu VO Sirleaf, Siebo Williams, Hilary Colnoe, Julu Johnson, Martina Brooks, Danesius Marteh, Fombah Kanneh and Lewis Konoe.
Recently, the Majority Bloc rejected the ruling released by the PUL, having presided over a three-day hearing of complaints against the SWAL leadership.
In a press conference held at the PUL headquarters on January 5, 2015, the Bloc strongly disagreed with the refusal of the PUL President to refer this critical matter to the committee responsible for looking into disputes amongst auxiliary groups of the Union, but elected to sit on the investigation himself when the Union has a Grievance and Ethics Committee, although the aggrieved party was surprisingly informed that the committee’s Chairman Mr. Frank Sainworla has since resigned, when the official communication was addressed to the committee, through him, signed for at the Union by the receptionist.
“We term the PUL President’s ruling as incomprehensive, because it failed to address key issues that characterized the hearings conducted in his office at the PUL headquarters. In the first place, in respect of the doctrine of first instance intervention, the PUL President was in the wrong to have handled an investigation involving one of the Union’s auxiliaries, when constitutionally, the Vice President heads all auxiliaries of the PUL,” Molley Trojan Kiazolu of Fabric FC on behalf of the SWAL Majority Bloc said.
He added, “Since we felt pushed around in terms of our letter reaching the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the PUL, in our anticipation, the Vice President of the PUL Mr. Jallah Grayfield whose direct oversight is exercised on all auxiliaries of the PUL, should have looked into our complaint to allow the PUL President be the final resort in case any of the parties were to seek appeal emanating from a ruling into the matter.”
Kiazolu noted, “Now, with the PUL President himself being the one sitting on the investigation and eventually reading out a ruling, where do we the Majority Bloc who feel dissatisfied about his findings take our matter, when it should have been addressed to his office – in the case of taking an appeal, let’s be clear on this.”
The group also feels that the current SWAL leadership gave SWAL’s full membership to undeserving reporters who have yet to meet full member requirements as provided for in the Constitution of the Association.
“We are seriously challenging a number of names on the roster of 57 names the Mulbah leadership said were eligible voters for the failed December 2015 elective Congress of SWAL. PUL boss Kamara is evidence of some of the contested names failing to acquiring Associate Membership last year before leapfrogging to the Full Member ID Card Mulbah’s leadership gave him this year. They were invited to the last day of Kamara’s investigation by Roland Mulbah.”