The Supreme Court of Liberia says it lacks authority to look into the allege constitutional issues raise in the Unity Party suspended National Chairman petition for declaratory judgment seeking to overturned UP suspension as well as to interpret two provisions of the constitution of Liberia.
The High Court failed to comprehend how the alleged removal of Wilmot Paye from his position in the UP allegedly without due process can be considered before that Honorable Court as a case of first instance when the said case entails the taking of evidence which the Supreme Court is prohibited from embarking upon by Law.
Reading the Supreme Court’s opinion, Associate Justice Si-Nehn G. Youh mentioned that after carefully examining the transcribed record especially the content of the petition for declaratory judgment, as well as the trial judge’s ruling on the law issues, it they observe that the trial Judge committed revisable error in transferring the case to the supreme court for interpretation or determination.
Justice Youh emphasized that the allegations raised in both the petition for declaratory judgment and the return thereto, are all factual issues which require the taking of evidence, a requirement which the supreme court is prohibited by law from embarking upon.
“We hold that because the petition for declaratory judgment contained factual legal issues, this court is unable to exercise original jurisdiction over same and that the challenge of the unity party constitution is not a constitutional issue that contemplated by law.”
Justice Youh claimed the High Court is unable to see how the alleged challenge to the Unity Party constitution requires it to provide an interpretation thereto on how the suspension of the Paye in the present case raises constitutional questions to the extent that the full bench of the supreme court is being called upon to overturn and established principle of law that prohibit it from receiving oral and documentary evidence.
These proceeding grow out of a petition for declaratory judgment which was formally transferred to the Supreme Court and embark to make a determination on the purported constitutional questions raised in the petition for declaratory judgment, the record shows that on February 5, 2020, Wilmot Paye the informant herein file a 17 counts petition for declaratory judgment before the civil law court sixth judicial circuit, Montserrado sitting in its December term in 2019 against the leadership of the unity party and all elected senators and representatives and executive officers of the unity party the respondent.
The informant alleged that incontinence of the unity party constitution; he was illegally suspended and removed from his position as national chairman of the said political party without a hearing consistent with his due process constitutional right.
The informant also alleged that he is unable to get redress for the injury suffered regarding his removal because section 4, article 10 of the constitution of the unity party makes the decision of the executive committee of the unity party non-reviewable as anybody does biding and final.
In disposing of the law issue by the Civil Law Court, the Judge ruled that the suspension of the informant from his position as National Chairman raise constitutional issues which require an interpretation of chapter 1, article 2 and chapter 3, article 20 of the 1986 constitution.
the Judge also ruled the Trial Court is not qualified to address what he sees as a constitutional issues raise by the parties in their respective plea and there upon ordered the clerk of the trial court to transferred the entire case for declaratory judgment to the supreme court bench for a determination.
The supreme court in acknowledging its constitutional responsibility under article 56 of the constitution as the final arbiter of constitutional issues held as follows: though the constitution of Liberia make this honorable court the final arbiter of constitutional issues, it does not prohibit courts of record clothed with relevant authority from passing upon constitutional issues before them.
According to her, the word final clearly inferred that the matter must first have been heard by a lower court otherwise the word only could have been used, but the formal word means that this court is the alternate determent of constitutional issues and that once those issues are so decided by this court, the matter is lay to rest.