11 July 2018

Liberia - Supreme Court Reserves Ruling in Controversial Imo Appointment

Monrovia — Both petitioner and state lawyers represented by Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean put out strong arguments Tuesday before Justice-In-Chamber Jamesetta Wolokollie defending and challenging Isaac Jackson's appointment as Deputy Commissioner and Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO.)

The argument comes contrary to Jackson's lawyer, Cllr. Arthur Johnson, who is claiming that his client was wrongfully replaced by President George Weah as Deputy Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority.

President Weah in his latest appointment replaced Jackson as Deputy Maritime Commissioner and the country's permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization based in London.

Jackson, who is also a former Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs in the Sirleaf-led government, was replaced by former Director of Communication of the Civil Service Agency (CSA), Moses Brown.

Jackson accuses the President of constitutional breach against the tenure of Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners as enshrined in the Liberia Maritime Authority Act.

The former Information Minister later filed a Writ of Prohibition to the Supreme Court Justice-In-Chamber Wolokollie, asking the high court for an alternative writ of prohibition and grant unto him all other reliefs that are legal and right.

In Jackson's Writ of Prohibition filed thru his legal counsel, he argued that the Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) shall have tenures of five years in order to ensure and preserve consistency in leadership, maintain continuity of purpose, increase the capacity in industry and preserve the national and international relevance and competitive nature of the maritime program.

Cllr. Johnson further that Jackson was appointed by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on September 13, 2016 but he had only served one year nine months of the five years tenure before his replacement.

According to Cllr. Johnson's petition, the LMA Act 7(4) also provides that Commissioner's power of appointment or removal of Deputy Commissioners, the Commissioner shall recommend to the President for the appointment of subject to the approval by the Board, for nonperformance for dishonesty or any offense in violation of the Constitution.

He referenced Chapter VI, Article 54 of the Liberian Constitution, which states that the President shall nominate and with the consent of the Senate appoint and commission, cabinet minister, deputy and assistant cabinet ministers, ambassadors, ministers, and assistant ministers among others but Jackson stated under that provision does not fall under that provision of the Constitution.

However, at the hearing of the writ behind closed doors at the office of the Chief -In- Chamber Wolokollie, state lawyers claimed that Jackson does not fall in the category of a Deputy Commissioner.

Briefing reporters after the closed doors hearing Tuesday, Cllr. Johnson said state lawyers had counter-argued that Isaac Jackson is not a Deputy Commissioner at the IMO.

"The state lawyers contention was that my client is not a Deputy Commissioner at the LMA but I debunked their arguments that he is with the facts and circumstances in this case," said Cllr. Johnson.

Justice Minister Dean told reporters that the arguments pros and cons have been held and the decision is left with the court.

"Let all of us wait for the court decision," said Cllr Dean, while reporters gathered that Justice Wolokollie has reserved ruling in the writ of prohibition filed by Arthur Johnson on behalf of Isaac Jackson.

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