MONROVIA – President George Weah, on Wednesday, 12 April, accepted the resignation of scores of officials serving in his administration, in adherence to Executive Order #117; a decision the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL), CIC Emmanuel D. Gonquoi, deems as a gross violation of a Supreme Court recent mandate for the Liberian leader to halt all proceedings regarding Executive Order #117.
An executive mansion statement released to the press on 12 April 2023, announced that President Weah had accepted the resignation of several Liberian government officials wanting to vie for elected positions in the ensuing October 10 polls.
According to the presidency, those who complied with President Weah’s mandate include Mr. Zinnah Norman, City Major of Bopolu City; Madam Kebbeh Forpka Collins, Board Member of the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation; and Madam Josephine W.A. Davies, Inspector General, Ministry of Commerce.
Others are Madam Barbara M. Keah, Assistant Superintendent of Sinoe County; Mr. Edwin K. Korpolu, Assistant Statutory District Superintendent for Development, Gbarpolu County; and Mr. Lance K. Gbagonyon, Deputy Minister for Culture, Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism.
It is recalled, mid last month, President Weah issued Executive Order #117, ordering all appointed officials of his administration aspiring to contest elective posts in the country’s elections slated for later this year on 10 October, to have resigned on or before 7 April 2023.
According to a statement from the presidency at the time, Executive Order #117 was consistent with amended Sections 5.2 and 10.2 of the 2014 Code of Conduct enacted, approved and printed in handbills on 29 December of last year.
But, the EFFL, in a lawsuit filed at the Supreme Court early in April 2023, seeks for the high court to invalidate Executive Order #117, praying at the time before Chamber Justice Yamei QuiQuoi Gbeisay, for a Petition for a Writ of Prohibition to restrain, prohibit and enjoined President Weah by undoing what the EFFL believes has been unlawfully done by the Liberian Chief Executive ordering several government employees serving the people of Liberia in various capacities through the Government of the Republic of Liberia to maintain these citizens in their respective positions whether or not they envisage an elective position for the ensuing October 10, 2023 general and presidential elections.
The EFFL, which is the Petitioner in the lawsuit, also prayed, requesting Justice Gbeisay to cite respondent, in this case, the Government of the Republic of Liberia by and thru the Ministry of Justice, represented by the Minister of Justice/Attorney General, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, Jr, the Solicitor General of the Republic of Liberia, Ministry of Justice, Republic of Liberia, Assistant Minister of Litigation, Directors and Assistant Directors and those acting under the scope of the Authority, the Ministry of State by and thru the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Deputy Ministers, Assistant Ministers and all those acting under the scope of their authority, all of the Republic of Liberia, to a conference on a day and date to be determined by His Honor Justice Gbeisay to show cause, if any, why the alternative writ of prohibition should not be issued; and after said conference, order the issuance of the alternative writ of prohibition.
According to a court document seen by Smart News Liberia, the Petitioner also prayed the Court to conduct a hearing and thereafter, grant the peremptory writ, prohibiting, restraining, enjoining and thereafter invalidating judiciously the Executive Order #117 and that His Honor Justice Gbeisay should grant any and all further relief as he may deem just, legal and equitable in the premises.
Howbeit, the Supreme Court through Justice Gbeisay, recently issued an Alternative Writ of Prohibition as prayed for by the EFFL, temporarily nullifying the then-expected compliance of President Weah’s issued Executive Order #117 mandating presidential appointees interested in contesting elective positions in the ensuing general elections to resign.
The issuance of the Alternative Writ of Prohibition invokes a “stay order” on the enforcement of Executive Order # 117 and until and unless a final decision is made and a decision is made either to quash the existing Alternative Writ of Prohibition or grant the EFFL’s prayer for the issuance of a Peremptory Writ of Prohibition, presidential appointees had no obligation to resign on or before 7 April 2023, as was mandated by President Weah.
A Peremptory Writ of Prohibition is an absolute and unqualified written command issued by a superior court to any governmental body, government official or lower court to perform an act the court finds is an official duty required by law.
However, EFFL Commander-In-Chief Gonquio told Smart News Liberia Thursday that such action on the part of President Weah, to continue to do business in a matter before the Court, for which a prohibition has been issued by the highest court in the land, is a slap in the face of the Supreme Court.
“It’s a slap in the Supreme Court face – the guy doesn’t respect the Supreme Court in the first place, because he’s still acting and enforcing the [Executive Order #117], it’s a slap in the Supreme Court face,” said Gonquoi.
He continued: “The Justice in Chamber has said there’s a stay order, and the man cannot wait for the stay order, and he’s acting – so, it’s a slap in the face of the Supreme Court.”
He asserted that the action of President Weah, to have made public his acceptance of letters of resignation of officials from his administration, when such matter is still before the Court, is a clear evidence that the Liberian leader is undermining the authority of the Supreme Court.
“No respect for the Court,” Gonquo, referring to President Weah said, adding, “The guy doesn’t have respect for that court – this man is not a president of law.”
He added that this action on the party of President Weah in a very crucial elections year, is a further manifestation of the Liberian leader’s quest to impose his will on the high court in the event of adjudicating electoral matters, when such cases arise and are taken to the Court.
Gonquoi, who wondered who are those advising President Weah regarding the Liberian Chief Executive taking policy decisions, indicated that one would have thought that ahead of elections, the Liberian leader would ensure that the Supreme Court gains credibility, adding that instead, the Liberian leader is allegedly undermining the high court’s credibility.
“You’re going to elections – you’d want to make sure that the Supreme Court gains some credibility, you can’t undermine the Supreme Court’s credibility, and the same Supreme Court is asking us to take election matters to the Court and they will be expeditiously heard, but here we are, a major case is before the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court has placed a temporary stay order, and the very same President is in the public accepting resignations from people when the Supreme Court has said this is a stay order, don’t act, and you are acting,” Gonquoi lamented.
Meanwhile, Smart News Liberia has been reliably informed by sources at the judiciary that as ordered by the Supreme Court in the EFFL’s lawsuit seeking to quash Executive Order #117, the respondent, the Government of the Republic of Liberia by and thru the Ministry of Justice, represented by the Minister of Justice/Attorney General, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, Jr, the Solicitor General of the Republic of Liberia, Ministry of Justice, Republic of Liberia, Assistant Minister of Litigation, Directors and Assistant Directors and those acting under the scope of the Authority, the Ministry of State by and thru the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Deputy Ministers, Assistant Ministers and all those acting under the scope of their authority, all of the Republic of Liberia, on yesterday filed their returns before His Honor Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay, Sr, Associate Justice of the Honorable Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia, presiding in Chambers, at the Supreme Court Room, Temple of Justice.
Our sources divulged that 12 April 2023, was the deadline set by the Court for the presentation of the respondent’s returns, in which Weah’s government is mandated to show cause why the EFFL’s petition as prayed for should not be granted.
The Civil Procedure Law Title -1, Liberian Code of Law Revised, Chapter 16 captioned Special Proceedings Section 16.22 provides that Citation or alternative writ- When a petition for alternative writ of mandamus or prohibition is made to the Justice of the Supreme Court, such justice shall issue or cause the clerk to issue a citation to the parties named as respondent.
If the urgency of the situation warrants, the justice may issue in lieu of the citation an alternative writ requiring the respondents (a) to do an act or refrain from pursuing judicial action or proceeding specified therein until a hearing has been held on the writ, and (b) to show cause, on the date fixed therein, why a peremptory writ should not be issued.