The Unity Party Youth Chairperson, T. Melvin Cephas, appeared on Liberia National TV and made several Claims.

Cephus was elected on a white ballot on Wednesday, October 6, 2022, following a decision after the Gbarnga National Convention failed to produce a national vice chair for youth affairs (national youth chair).

On August 3, Cephus was hosted by LNTV, where he made these claims.

1. The President presides over the NEC (1:59:48 seconds)

Verification: The claim that Weah presides over the NEC is misleading because there are seven commissioners and the NEC is an autonomous body.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) is a self-governing public body charged with conducting elections for all elective public offices as well as administering and enforcing all election laws throughout the Republic of Liberia.

Historically, the NEC arose from the Liberian Constitution. The NEC was originally known as the Elections Commission (ECOM), and it derived its constitutional authority from Chapter X, Article 89.

ECOM was then mandated to be composed of five commissioners. However, in 2003, the Liberian Legislature passed legislation increasing the number of commissioners to seven.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on Liberia, signed in Accra, Ghana, on August 18, 2003, upheld this increment. Specifically, Chapter 2, Section 9, Subsection a-x of the New Elections Law of 1986 codifies the powers of the NEC that it inherited from its predecessor, ECOM.

The current commissioners of the NEC were appointed by President George Weah to include Boakai Dukuly, Josephine Kou Gaye,  Barsee Leo Kpangbai, Floyd Oxley Sayor, Ernestine Morgan-Awar (ESQ.) and Davidetta Browne Lansanah as chairpersons.

 2.    The chairperson of NEC contested the CDC ticket (1:01:01 seconds)

Verification: Incorrect, Davidetta Brown- Lansanah has never contested for political office, nor on the Coalition for Democratic Change ticket.

Brown-Lansanah, the current NEC chairperson who took office in April 2020, is a veteran broadcast journalist who has worked for the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), Star Radio, and the Talking Drum Studio (Search for Common Ground) for many years.

She also worked as a National Professional within the UN System for a decade as a Communication officer with UNOMIL and UNDHA/UNHACO, as well as an Associate Gender Officer in the Office of the Gender Adviser (OGA) with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

3.    Under this Administration, 4,000 youths are on drugs (1:15:38)

Verification: Unproven, according to the Ministry of Health, Liberia has 47,917 at-risk youths; there is no evidence that 4,000 youth became addicted to drugs during the Weah administration.

George Weah was elected President in 2017, and there remains a major nightmare after the country’s 14 years of civil crises in which the current youthful population, aged 12 to 46, was conscripted and indoctrinated into the use of drugs.

In 2014, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf signed the Liberia Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Act establishing the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency.

Between 2005 and 2011, Liberia was enlisted among West African states in which over 90 kilograms of Cocaine were seized, with total seizures in the West African region amounting to 2,500 kg (WACD, 2014).

Data from ECOWAS shows that the national government and international organizations must address illicit drug trafficking and drug abuse in Liberia, as well as empower institutions tasked with this responsibility.

This story was produced with the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development’s (CJID) support.


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