Miss Liberia Organizer Shifts Blame over SMS Voting confusion

Digital Content

Chris Haye Onanuga, the man at the center of the purported hijacking of the judges’ verdict for the Miss Liberia 2011/2012 crown, said he had to step in to avoid confusion because the judges were “ignorant” of the rules and regulations governing the pageant, which was created by the organizer, CT.Com.

Onanuga said the panel of judges, headed by Maxine Menson of Ghana (an Executive Producer of the ECOWAS Peace Pageant and Consultant to the Miss Ghana Beauty Pageant), failed to follow the rules and regulation of Miss Liberia 2011/2012.

“In order to move away from the archaic situation where judges only decide the winner, we decided that the public would have a voice. Therefore, we gave 40% of the decision making to the public to select their choice via SMS. And at the event, we as organizers decided to give the judges 60% say, according to the rules of the Pageant,” Mr. Onunaga explained. “Therefore, on the night of the contest, judges had 60% say, while the public opinion through voting counted for 40%.

“At the close of the pageant, it became apparent that the judges wanted to reject the public opinion voting. Instead of taking 60%, the judges wanted to have 100% say in the final results, which is against the rules. This is where we as organizers refused because we could not accept that the judges should have 100% say and ignore the views of public opinion,” Onanuga stated.

The chief organizer of the pageant further stated that owing to the judges’ refusal to include the public’s grading (40%) of the queens’ actual event performances (60%), he and his staff tabulated the scores, including the SMS voting scores and the judges’ scores, and announced the results.

“There have been concerns about why we as organizers announced the result; [but] this is what happened: the judges handed the final scores to Desmond Elliot (a Nigerian actor), [as] all of us believed that the judges had tabulated both the SMS voting as well as their [scores]. After Mr. Elliot announced the second and third winners, he refused to announce the [first place] winner owing to the crowd’s agitation and the presence of about 30 police officers.

“When the judges were then asked to announce the winners as is traditionally the case in Liberia, they too refused. At this point, we did final tabulation, which included both the judges’ and the SMS voting scores, and announced the results.”