7 February 2013

Liberia: 'GOL Wants Out of Court With Taylor?

Photo: RNW
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor in court.

The Legal Representative of ex-President Charles Taylor in Liberia, Counselor Julius Sayma Syrenius Cephus has quoted the Justice Ministry here as saying that it was not contacted before petitioning the Supreme Court of Liberia for Taylor's benefits.

As the result, the ministry has urged both parties to meet for out-of court discussions. On 17 January 2013, Cllr. Cephus field an 18-count joint petition before the high court for a writ of mandamus to compel the government to pay US$231,429.99 as total annuities (benefits) to ex-president Taylor's wife, Victoria B. Addison Taylor covering 111 calendar months, and US$114,583.32 for Liberia's former Vice President John D. Gray representing 110 calendar months, respectively.

But in a phone interview with this paper Wednesday morning, Cllr. Cephus said though the Justice Ministry sees the petitioners' action as legitimate on grounds that past presidents were entitled to annuities, not every matter needed to be taken to court.

"The ministry said not everything needs to go to court; past presidents need to get their benefits. So our issue is legitimate. But for us, we want to stay out of the press..." said Cllr. Cehpus.

However, efforts to obtain comment from Justice Minister Christina Tah failed, as she could not answer her phone after an office staff, only identifying herself as Ms. Johnson earlier, said the minister was in a meeting and would later get back to the caller (the New Dawn-Liberia) .

Consistent with Section 1.4 of an act enacted by Legislators on July 6, 1978, Taylor and Gray are pleading for the Supreme Court to grant them the necessary relief by compelling the current government to pay to them 50% each of the salary of the president and vice president per annum respectively, on grounds that they were honorably retired since 2003 to private life, and were not in the employ of government.

Quoting Section 1.4 of the act entitled "An Act to provide for retirement pension of the President, Vice President, Speaker, Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia," Taylor's lawyers argued, among others, that a former president who has honorably retired to private life and who is not in any way gainfully employed by the government shall receive from the government a pension equal to fifty percent (50%) of the salary of the president."

The act further mandates that the sitting government provides personal staff and facilities for the remainder of the ex-president or vice president's life at a cost not less than US$25,000.00 per annum for the ex-president and an allowance not less than US$12,500 per annum for the ex-vice president, respectively.

But both petitioners had accused the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration of sporting with their lives and rights by adopting "a pick and choose" biasness and "selective" payments of retirement benefits "as demonstrably shown in its settlement of retirements benefits of former President Samuel Kanyon Doe to his wife, Nancy B. Doe.

Ex-president Taylor is currently being held in The Hague and expected to face a 50 year prison sentence for aiding and abetting war crimes against humanity in neighboring Sierra Leone after he was convicted in April last year by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Hague. An appeal process initiated by Taylor is ongoing.

Under pressure from various rebel factions and 'international powers', Ex-President Charles Taylor was forced to resign the Liberian Presidency on August 11, 2003.

Following the departure of Ex-President Taylor to Calabar, Nigeria in 2003, Liberia's Vice President Moses Z. Blah ascended to the office of the president on Constitutional ground; thereby bringing onboard John D. Gray as Vice President from August 11, to October 14, 2003.

Vice President Gray, along with Blah also retired in 2003 upon the inception of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, NTGL headed by Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant on October 14, 2003.

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