By: R. Joyclyn Wea
MONROVIA-The Supreme Court of Liberia will on today, January 26, 2023 decide the fate of Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin, head of Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in his quest to undo the decision by the government to enact a new act of legislation recreating or restructuring the LACC which terminated his six years tenure.
Today’s judgment which is expected to be delivered by Her Honor Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh will determine whether or not the government will settle its obligation to Cllr. Martin as well as continuous of his position as head of that anti-graph institution.
As per the lawsuit filed by Cllr. Martin against the government of Liberia, the high court will in its judgment consider the unconstitutionality of sections 16.1 and 16.2 of the act to amend and restate an act to establish the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission approved on July 22, 2022 and printed in handbill on July 25, 2022.
During final argument into the matter before the full bench of the honorable court, martin’s lawyer, Cllr. Johnny Momoh damaged his chances of convincing the justices to agree with him. With the performance of Cllr. Momoh many lawyers are of the view that the Supreme Court might rule against the LACC boss as he stands a slim chance.
It can be recalled, in September of 2022, LACC boss dragged the Weah administration before the nation’s highest court to resist any and all actions by the government to temper with his six years tenure.
Martins prays the honorable court to order the issuance of an alternative writ of prohibition, restraining and enjoining the executive branch of government from enforcing sections 16.1 and 16.2 of the act to amend and reinstate an act to establish and re-establish the LACC, approved on July 22, 2022 and printed into handbill on July 25, 2022 thereby upholding the approved Act of August 2008 and the provisions contained therein pursuant to which he was nominated, confirmed, appointed and commissioned as Executive Chairperson of the LACC.
The National Legislature of Liberia passed into law “An Act to Amend and Restate andAct to Establish the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and to Re-Establish the LACC” which was approved on July 22, 2022 and printed in handbill July 25, 2022.
The act at sections 3.1 and 3.2 abolished the act which established the LACC in 2008 and in its stead, established a new independent and autonomous commission in the government known as the LACC as a successor to the LACC establishment in 2008.
He holds that the amended act is a gross violation of articles 20 and 21 of the 1986 constitution of Liberia and that only the Supreme Court is empowered by law to declare said act unconstitutional.
Petitioner says, assuming without admitting that the Legislature had the authority to create and pass into law the provision of section 6.10 as contained in the act to amend and restate and act to establish the LACC, which it does not have, the creation and passage of said law would be discriminatory under article 8, as it relates only to petitioner and other commissioners currently serving as commissioners of LACC.
Under the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, the power to appoint and to dismiss officials within the Executive Branch of government is vested in the President of the Republic of Liberia, and this authority must be exercised consistent and in keeping with the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia and agencies created and established by the Legislature pursuant to the said constitution.
“Accordingly, the provision of Section 6.10 of An Act to Amend and Restate an Act to establish the LACC and to re-establish the LACC, is a usurpation by the Liberian Legislature of the authority vested in the President of the Republic,” Cllr. Martin.
Article 20 of the 1986 Constitution provides that: “no person is to be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment as laid down in the constitution and due process of law.”
Petitioner Martin submits that “he was nominated by the President as executive Chairperson of the LACC to serve for a period of six years, except as otherwise provided for in the act to establish the LACC was approved August 21, 2008 and printed in handbill on August 28, 2008, specifically, Section 6.8.
He further contended that to remove him from the office of Executive Chairperson of the LACC inconsistent with the provision of the herein mentioned act would be a gross violation of the privilege granted him by the President to serve in the capacity of the Executive Chairperson of the LACC and the constitutional provision quoted herein.
Cllr. Martin said he was nominated, confirmed, and appointed as Executive Chairperson of the LACC by the President in keeping with An Act to establish the LACC which was approved and printed in handbill in August 2008; therefore, can only be dismissed, considered dismissed in keeping with the provision if the herein mentioned act.
The LACC boss maintained that his July 15, 2021 tenure as Chairperson of the LACC runs up to and including July 14, 2026, consistent with the 2008 Act creating the LACC.
According to him, the act is not the provision contained therein and are not applicable to him; for to hold otherwise would be a gross violation of the principle and doctrine of the expo facto law as enshrined in article 21 of the 1986 constitution if the republic of Liberia which states “no person shall be made subject to any law or punishment which was in effect at the time of commission of an offense, nor shall the Legislature enact any bill of attainder or ‘ex post facto’ law.”
He informed the high court that co-respondent, the Ad Hoc Committee set up by the President, published a vacancy announcement in the FrontPage Africa newspaper vol. 16 No. 187, Friday, September 30, 2022, announcing vacancies for the positions of Executive Chairperson or Chief Executive, Executive Vice Chairperson and Commissioners for the LACC.
When you wake up with fleas, go back and check with whom you’ve been sleeping with. Use and dump, Cllr, that’s the name of the game.
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