Former Justice Minister of the Republic of Liberia, Benedict Sannoh has charged Supreme Courts in West Africa to prevent post-election crises and recent attacks by the military on democratic processes in the subregion by safeguarding the mandate of citizens.
Sannoh made the call on Thursday while delivering a paper titled “Role of Judiciary in the Prevention and Management of Electoral Crisis” at the Delocalized meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament’s Joint Committees on Political Affairs, Peace, Security and the African Peer Review Mechanism, Judicial Affairs and Human rights, Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment in Monrovia, Liberia.
He said that the manner in which electoral disputes are adjudicated by the Judiciary is the foundation for peace or crises in any democracy.
Sannoh, while advocating for the independence of the judiciary, noted that political parties must also play active and proactive roles in approaching the judiciary for resolution electoral disputes.
He said: “The judiciary through the supreme court should ensure that the constitution mandate is upheld.
“The role of the Supreme Court in the adjudication of these cases should be to ensure that the opinions enhance, promote and entrench the respect, protection of the will of the people.
“As expressed by their votes in the the elections conducted consistent with the constitution, and we see a consistent trend in this direction.
“The Supreme Courts should be keen on the question of adherence to fundamental rights articulated in the constitution especially on the question of no one being deprived of a liberty, poverty, privilege or any other right.
“Except as an outcome of a hearing consistent with the provisions of the constitutions and in accordance with the due process of law.
“Political parties should play a more pro-active role in the use of the judiciary; monitor every statutory and administrative action taken by the elections commission, the legislature, or the institutions within the executive branch.
“Political parties should also collaborate in raising issues that require judicial determination, referendum, cleaning of the voters roll.”
Sannoh, while responding to interventions from members of ECOWAS Parliament on his paper, said that the constitution of Member States must also be properly implemented.
According to the former Justice Minister, the constitution of the country reflects the will and expectations of its citizens, insisting that all concerns of citizens ought to be addressed by provisions of the constitution.
In separate interventions, some ECOWAS Members of Parliament lamented the executive control of the judiciary, recommending that judges be voted by citizens rather than being appointed by the executive.
Hon. Laadi Ayamba, Member of Parliament from Ghana said that the decisions of some courts in West Africa have at several times been influenced by the executive, which makes justice denied in most cases.
She said that: “When Judges are appointed by the executive, they can get them to say anything in their favour.
“I think this is something that we must look at changing in our various country’s constitutions.
“For me, I would recommend that judges should be voted for by the people.”