News / Africa

Lawyer Says Life Threatened Over Liberian Candidate Residency Court Challenge

Syrenius Cephus says the actions of the ruling Unity Party chairman might have instigated the alleged threats on his life

Multimedia

Audio
James Butty

The Liberian Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on a lawsuit challenging the decision of the National Elections Commission to certify 16 presidential candidates, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, for next month’s elections.

The Liberian Constitution states that “no person shall be eligible to hold the office of president or vice president unless that person is resident in the Republic ten years prior to his election.”

Last month’s constitutional referendum to change the requirement to five years failed.  The lawyer for the group Concerned Citizens of Liberia that filed the suit has asked the court to withdraw his name because his life has been threatened.

Sayma Syrenius Cephus said the actions of the national chairman and lawyer for the ruling Unity Party, Varney Sherman, might have instigated the threats.

“Apparently those who believe that their candidate will not have the opportunity to participate in the election decided to engage in phone calls by threatening me and saying that, if any of their candidates loses the opportunity to contest the ensuing election on October 11, 2011, I will have to use [a] helicopter to go to work or [a] helicopter to go home, and I became so frightened because of the personal safety of my family and myself,” he said.

Cephus accused Sherman of organizing a “cheering squad” after the Supreme Court ruled to lift the stay it had previously ordered on the political parties.

“I’m sending this message directly to Counselor Varney Sherman. He brought [a] cheering squad [to] the ground floor of the Supreme Court.  I’m not sure if he has full control over their actions or not, but whether it is they or somebody else who decided to engage in such a mischief, I certainly would not know. But, he was the one who instigated the presence of such [a] cheering squad on the grounds of the Supreme Court,” Cephus said.

Sherman said supporters of the ruling party have no reason to threaten Cephus.

“Counselor Cephus said I brought in the cheering squad.  You should get a copy of our returns and see the citation that we made. You have a petition for the writ of prohibition [and] not a single citation of law that the gentleman relied on except for the residency clause.  Why would Unity Party partisans want to threaten Counselor Cephus?  This [he] is not one of the outstanding lawyers in this country. This is not one case that we have any reason to believe that he will win,” he said.

Sherman said his party is confident that the court will rule that President Sirleaf has met the constitutional requirement to seek re-election.

“I said that months, months and months ago; I said that on radio interviews in this country that [President] Ellen Sirleaf is not barred by the 10-year residency clause.  The thing about the residency clause is that the ordinary man interprets it in keeping with his knowledge of the English language. This requirement of the constitution is a legal issue.  Residency is defined by [the] law,” Sherman said.

Cephus said he has been directed by the court to appear on Tuesday and that, in the event the petitioners cannot find a lawyer, he will have to represent the petitioners.

He said he did not report the alleged threat against him to the Justice Ministry because, according to him, he does not trust it.

“It would be a waste of time on two basic fundamental grounds.  Ground number one, there are too many murder cases in this country that are unsolved.  For somebody threatening me using phone calls, the Justice Ministry is a respondent in the case.  It’s like a complainer asking an armed robber for personal security in a trial in which the very armed robber is on trial,” Cephus said.

Cephus dismissed speculation by some that he had been paid off to withdraw from the case.

“I will never ever do that.  First, I have a fiduciary responsibility with my client and that relationship should be completely strong in every case, and I don’t have any reason to trade off,” Cephus said.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid