Supreme Court Gets Tough
… Orders Arrest of Traditional Leaders
By: R. Joyclyn Wea
MONROVIA-The Supreme Court of Liberia has requested the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs to have Mr. Ernest White and Joseph Kollie (CKA Choko) arrested with immediate effect.
The High Court ordered that they should be forwarded to its Court Marshall Office to commence their sentence.
The Court’s latest decision stemmed from two separate requests from Representatives Moima Mensah and Marvin Cole to pardon local county officials.
It can be recalled that the Supreme Court of Liberia rendered an opinion in the case In Re: Contempt Proceeding against Daniel Tubman, Commissioner, Clinton Brown, Acting City Mayor of Toyota City, Robert Sulu, Acting General Cown Chief of Toyota City, Miller Bondo, youth leader of Salala District, Carney Sirleaf, Poro Grove Operator in Salala District, Ernest white, Cultural Advisor, Joseph Kollie Acting Paramount Chief of Fuamah Chiefdom all of Bong County, wherein the court held these defendants in criminal contempt for vandalizing the magisterial courts in Salala Bong Mines and Gbartala Bong County.
In addition to the vandalism, Magistrate Eliams G. Capehart was stripped baked along with certain court staff of the Salala Magisterial Court, were abducted and initiated into the traditional school; whilst the Bong Mines and Gbartala Magisterial Courts experience disturbances and attempted abduction.
It was predicated upon these dreadful acts that the Supreme Court held these defendants in criminal contempt and have them sentenced them to six months imprisonment at the Monrovia Central Prison.
However, only five of the contemnors in persons of Daniel Tubman, Clinton Brown, Robert Sulu, Miller Bondo, and Varfee Sirleaf were committed at the Monrovia Central Prison, while Ernest White and Joseph Kollie are still at large.
Based upon this, the full bench of the Supreme Court of Liberia unanimously agreed to deny a request from Moima Briggs Mensah Chairperson, of the Bong Legislative Caucus, and Representative District Six Salala and J Marvin Cole Representative of District three, Bong County respectively seeking a pardon on behalf of seven local county officials held in criminal contempt of the Judiciary Branch of government and the Supreme Court of Liberia and sentenced to six months imprisonment.
In separate Communications addressed to her Honor Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh, Chief Justice of the Honorable Supreme Court dated December 15, 2022, and January 5, 2023, respectively, both representatives acknowledged the wrong meted out against the court by their kinsmen, rendered apologies to the court on behalf of their citizens of Bong County and begged the Supreme Court to temper justice with mercy and have their kinsmen released adding that they are sure that these men have learned their lessons.
However, the Supreme Court in an official response Hon. Mensah dated January 20, 2023, and signed by Chief Justice Yuoh denied said request stating that granting such a request will not only undermine the integrity of the Supreme Court but will destroy the independence and neutrality of the nation’s highest court.
The court in citing Articles 65 and 66 of the Constitution of Liberia (1986), reminded the Representatives that the Supreme Court is the highest court within the bailiwick of the republic of Liberia; that decision taken by the Supreme Court is conclusive in all respect; they are binding and enforceable against all parties brought under the jurisdiction of the court, irrespective of their social or political status; and it is also final and unreviewable.
“Considering your request in the light of the above-referenced constitutional provisions, we are hesitant to state here that the granting of reprieve as requested, will not only undermine the supreme country’s integrity, but also same will create an avalanche that will destroy the supreme court’s independence and neutrality and portray the court as being biased, selective, weak, and susceptible to legislative influence,” the court noted.
The high court further holds that to grant your request and release those defendants that are held in criminal contempt will be a clear manifestation of favorites and a departure from article 11(c) of the constitution.
The provision states “the law makes no distinction between men when before it; the high and low here are both on an equal level. The law, while just, had no sympathy; it neither makes men rich nor poor; hence the claim to be rich can have no influence with it; and to plead poverty can awaken no sympathy.