23 April 2019

Liberia: 'I'm Coffin-Ready'

"God forbids, if I do not win this case, I will come to Monrovia, and submit my issue to the people; and if the Government puts bullets in my head, my blood will be on the hands of Chief Justice Korkpor for his mindless cowardice. Because, I am told that the government has reintroduced the sour voices of notorious ex-rebel generals in our national politics," a local daily quote embattled Permanent Representative, Atty. Isaac W. Jackson.

When Liberia's embattled Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) based in London, Attorney Isaac W. Jackson, Jr., challenged his removal from his post and told

President George M. Weah who has replaced him (Jackson) with a Public Relations Officer at the Civil Service Agency (CSA), Mr. Moses Owen Brown that he (President Weah) 'got it totally wrong' because he has not gone two years into his five years tenure; little did he realize that an ever tireless uphill battle was being unleashed loaded with unthinkable stimulus.

At the same time, the fray became exacerbated when the former Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs landed at the Supreme Court with his case wherein the Chief Executive fell victim when his (Weah's) new appointment was halted by the highest court in the land.

Practically, President Weah portrayed as reportedly violating the law and right of Atty. Jackson had to put his appointment of Mr. Brown, the replacement of Jackson on ice pending the adjudication of the case.

However, one aspect of the fray that the President, Dr. Weah had absolute control over was the political dimension which can be stretched to incapacitate non-political hurdles.

Pundits who have followed the tenure-removal-but-my-time-has-not-expired-yet row upon learning about the reluctance in the renewal of a diplomatic passport simmering friction were quick to point out that when found in the ring with an elephant, such person should not waste precious time punching the legs of the elephant because at the end of the day it is the puncher who will leave the ring without gaining anything useful and praiseworthy rather with a pain-driven badly bruised hands.

Today, Jackson is wailing the loudest in the wilderness about the refusal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to renew his diplomatic passport and that of his family thereby debilitating his free and official travels to places to fully represent Liberia a task he was commissioned to perform in the International Maritime Organization community, adding that his rights and the rights of his family have unjustly been violated by the government he has been officially serving abroad.

Venting out his anger, the embattled Permanent Representative pointed out that former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2016 appointed him (Jackson) to the position of Deputy Commissioner and Permanent Representative to the IMO.

He maintained that the appointment is a five-year tenured position and contended that he has served in that position for one year and nine months at time of the appointment of Brown to replace him was made by President Weah.

Lashing out further about the denial of the renewal of his diplomatic passport, and despite blaming Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Milton Findley for imposing such embarrassment on him to officially travel and function in his capacity as mandated from his appointment, he equally hinged his victory- if the court remains fair according to him; based on his previous lawsuit on the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Cllr. Francis Saye Korkpor.

Determined to win the case, Jackson emphasized readiness to pursue his case to the logical conclusion and is prepared to face the wrath, and even become 'coffin-ready'.

Moreover, it was also reported that last week, Chief Justice Korkpor ordered the government, in a ruling to renew the IMO Representative's passport, in a move Atty. Isaac Jackson believes that his fight through the legal channels has not been in vain.

A local daily reported this week that Jackson's lawyer,. Arthur Johnson then drew Supreme Court's attention to the violation of the Stay Order by Government of Liberia. He explained that considering that his client Isaac Jackson and family diplomatic passports issued to them in October 2016 to facilitate our travel to duty station was fast approaching expiration date, they proactively applied on August 24, 2018, to renew their passports. But since then, almost a year ago, coupled with numerous follow-ups with authorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they have not renewed their passports.

Cllr. Johnson then contends that the refusal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to renew his client and family passports notwithstanding their efforts to act in a timely manner violates the Stay Order issued by the Supreme Court of Liberia.

According to him, said refusal is causing his client (Isaac Jackson) and the country's Maritime program considerable detriment. He explained that his client has been unable to attend conferences and forums abroad to which he has been invited in line with his portfolio to make the case for Liberia's Maritime program.

It can be recalled that Associate Justice Jamesetta Howard Wolokolie, the Justice presiding in the Supreme Court's chamber temporarily blocked President George Weah from appointing a new deputy commissioner and permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on grounds that his action constituted a constitutional violation.

Since the lawsuit was based on constitutional mattesr, Justice Wolokolie will not be in the position to hear it alone, because the law provides for all of the five justices to decide a matter related to alleged constitutional violations.

President Weah on June 19 of last year appointed Moses Owen Brown, the former public relations officer at the Civil Servant Agency (CSA) to replace Jackson at the IMO.

Weah's action, the legal team of Jackson had challenged, terming it as "an act of excessive abuse and over use of presidential power which fundamentally violates Article 54 and 89 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, as well as the statutory law of Liberia."

Section 7 (1) of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) Act of 2010, Section 7 (4) captioned Tenure of the Commissioners and Deputy Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority Act, specifically states that "Tenure of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner.

The commissioners and the deputy commissioners of Maritime Authority shall have tenure of five (5) years in order to ensure and preserve consistency in the leadership, maintain continuity of purpose, increase the capacity in the industry, and preserve, the national and international relevance and very competitive nature of the maritime program.

The tenure of the Commissioner and deputy commissioner shall be renewable for only an additional four-year period upon recommendation of the Board to the President for approval. No further renewal shall be permitted or allowed beyond nine years."

Section 7 (7) also provides regarding suspension and Removal of the commissioners, "The commissioners shall be subjected to removal or suspension from the position by the President of Liberia on the recommendation of the Board for non-performance, for dishonestly, or any offense in violation of the Liberian criminal laws, or as a result of the outcome of a due process investigation, or a, showing of complete disregard for international treaties and conventions to which Liberia is a party, or on, grounds of verified physical, mental or administrative incapacity.

Any suspension or removal shall be without prejudice to any criminal sanctions, which may be imposed upon trial and conviction. Where the commissioner is removed or resigns his position, the board shall appoint one or more Deputy Commissioners to act as Commissioner pending the recommendation of a replacement by the Board with the approval of the President of Liberia." TNR

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