CENTAL Wants Pres. Boakai Recalls Appointments Made To Tenure Positions

By: Sylvester Choloplay

Liberia – February 21, 2024: A watch-dog civil society institution, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) is admonishing President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr. to recall those he has nominated to active tenure positions in the Liberian Government.

Recently President Boakai nominated several individuals to the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA), Governance Commission, National Lottery Authority, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Identification Registry, amongst others.

However, CENTAL has seen these nominations as unlawful and constitutional violations. The group said, President Boakai’s nominations of persons to actively occupy tenured positions do not only violate relevant laws, as enacted by the Legislature and interpreted by the Supreme Court, but undermines the tenants of good governance and democracy.

Speaking at a press conference in Monrovia on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, CENTAL’s Programs Manager, Esq. Gerald D. Yeakula, admonished President Boakai to maintain his professed commitment to good governance and the fight against corruption, stressing that it is of great importance that his actions are consistent with what he professes.

“Liberia cannot afford a continuation of disregard for the rule of law and promotion of political interests, at the expense of our hard fought and growing democracy. We cannot continue to repeat the same mistakes of yesterday when such can clearly be avoided. If business must not be as usual, keen attention must be paid to the excesses of yesterday with an eye to averting recurrence”, Esq. Yeakula asserted.

Giving an example of President Boakai’s nomination, Esq. Yeakula said President Boakai constituted the membership of the National Environment Policy Council of Liberia to allow for a recruitment process for the position of Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), consistent with section 16 of the EPA Act.

He said by appointing an acting Executive Director, CENTAL believes the trend of interim appointments continues without any deliberate action to comply with the EPA Act. This will be business as usual and not a deviation from the ugly past, which the President has severally promised.

President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has nominated Liberia People’s Party vice running mate, Mr. Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo, as EPA’s Acting Executive Director.

In another example, President Boakai nominated Dr. Edward Liberty as the Executive Director of the National Identification Registry, an autonomous agency within the Executive Branch of the Government of Liberia. It was created by an Act of the National Legislature in 2011 to address double dipping, illegal migration and other frauds resulting from impersonation and identity.

“We wish to highlight that tenure security is a settled matter and that interferences with it in the form of appointments to positions of active tenures are unlawful. In the case of Martin Sallie Kollie vs the Executive Branch of the Government of the Republic of Liberia, the Supreme Court of Liberia upheld the sanctity of tenure against an illegitimate exercise of Presidential appointment.

In a precedential statement, Esq. Yeakulas stated: “Then President George M. Weah nominated a Director General of the National Lottery Authority (NLA) when, in fact, Mr. Kollie, had been commissioned by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, prior to the election of President Weah. The Court ruled that the appointment was illegitimate since the NLA Director General had a secured tenure of four (4) years, as prescribed by the Legislature.

The power of the Legislature to insulate public positions against removal by the will and pleasure of the President was further interpreted to include the power to legislate officials out of office through a legislative act. Hence, in the case In Re: The Constitutionality Of Sections 16.1 And 16.2 Of The Act To Amend And Restate An Act To Establish The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission And To Re-Establish The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.

The Supreme Court held that tenured positions which are creatures of the Legislature can be divested of tenure by the Legislature. Further, it emphasized that positions constitutionally protected by tenure and, therefore, immune to legislative manipulation are clearly stated in the constitution and includes positions of President, Vice President, Chief Justice, Associate Justices, Legislators, Judges of Subordinate Courts of Records, etc.

For such categories of public officials, only the Liberian people acting through a referendum can remove or amend their tenures. Simply put, constitutionally protected tenures can only be removed without cause by the people of Liberia, and legislatively

Enacted tenures can only be removed without cause by the Legislature. Where cause exists for removal, different competent authorities to effect removal have been designated”.

Meanwhile, CENTAL has at the same time urged President Boakai that he the Office of the Ombudsman be constituted and fully supported to allow for investigation of possible breach of Code of Conduct provisions regarding political canvassing and campaigning, which could constitute ground for removal from tenured positions, especially those of public integrity institutions like the Governance Commission.

CENTAL said it believes that in the absence of determination by the Ombudsman, officials in violation of the Code cannot be lawfully removed; stressing that due process must be followed in all cases of removal for cause.

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