Home EditorialGuest Analysis Ex-President Taylor Unqualified To Claim Pension Benefits

Ex-President Taylor Unqualified To Claim Pension Benefits

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…State Lawyers Tell ECOWAS Court

By: Clarence S. Cooper—Judicial Analyst

Legal pundits who witnessed the opening arguments in the case of former President Charles Taylor versus the Government of Liberia (GOL) over Pension Benefits at the ECOWAS Court in Abuja, Nigeria, say the lawyers representing the government of Liberia have made a brilliant, persuasive, and impressive opening argument which is firmly grounded both in the laws of Liberia and international jurisprudence and protocols.

Lawyers representing the government of Liberia at the 11 External Court sessions of the Community Court of ECOWAS are Cllr. Nyenati Tuan, Atty. Samora P.Z Wolokolie among others—all young but profoundly erudite and skillful lawyers with the depth and steepness to effectively and convincingly argue and defeat Taylor and his lawyers in the ongoing case involving former President Charles Taylor versus the Republic of Liberia—regarding Taylor’s claim to Pension Benefits as former President of Liberia.

Former President Taylor’s lawyers are arguing that the Republic of Liberia has violated Mr. Taylor’s property rights of pension and retirement benefits—meaning since Taylor was “asked to resign” from the Presidency, he has not received his pension benefits, as such, the Court must end the violation of his rights and ensure the government of Liberia pays his pension benefits as former President of Liberia.

In a sharp and sound response, the government through its young, bright, and energetic lawyers who intrigued the Courtroom with their fascinating erudition in the law argued that Mr. Taylor did not retire honorably as a President of the Republic of Liberia and is not living a private life as a former President as required by law, as such he is unqualified to benefit pension and other immunities as former President.

Hearings in what legal scholars have described as a landmark case whose final verdict, either way, would etch a precedent in the Liberian jurisprudence/ Law began on Friday 1 April 2022.

The reliance on which the government lawyers have structured their argument is the Act of the Legislature of July 6, 1978, Titled: “An Act To provide for Retirement Pension of the President of the Republic of Liberia, Vice President of Liberia, The Speaker of the House of Representatives of Liberia, and, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia”, which categorically and unambiguously states;
“A former President who honorably retired to private life and who is 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. In addition, a former President shall be provided a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of his life…”

Conventionally and legally, Pension Benefits are only given to public servants who perform their service honorably and end their tenure of service honorably, conversely, public servants who do not serve honorably and were dismissed and/or discharged from public service for committing misgivings and acts inimical and/or anathema to law, norms, standards, order, and civility have not the legal and moral fitness and standing to lay claim to pension benefits of any sought.

Charles Taylor was “deposed” from the Presidency by multiple rebel groups and with the help of ECOWAS and the African Union or AU, he was exiled to Nigeria until he was arrested and subsequently prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Taylor would become President of Liberia in 1997 following years of bloody carnage and atrocities committed against the people of Liberia by his notorious and dreadful National Patriotic Front of Liberia or NPFL. The NPFL under the command of Charles Taylor committed untold atrocities in Liberia and caused an imaginable scale of damage to Liberia’s infrastructure. The NPFL, according to available records contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or the TRC report, committed massacres, mass murders, amputation, maiming, rape, conscription & drugging of child soldiers, as well as random execution of former officials of government, and perceived enemies.

Taylor would become President of not only a country he had brutally torn apart and murdered thousands of its innocent citizens in the name of instituting a regime change but of course, his Presidency would face fierce arm resistance as a consequence of creating for himself a gang of vicious adversaries.

But even as Taylor became President, a presidency that was unsurprisingly greeted with mixed feelings given the unspecified scale of horror inflicted on the nation and its people, he would not change his tyrannical mindset and make amends with the nation and its hurting, weary, and traumatized citizenry. He would rule over the country with an iron fist—inflicting unbridled terror on the nation once more. Under his murderous and roguish rule, made short by multiple rebel forces from all flanks of the country, the nation and people were submerged into a renewed epoch of dreadful totalitarianism and draconian tendency. Human Rights abuses were pervasive, summary executions became the unspoken norm, and the overnight brutal slaying of opposition and dissent voices became rampant.

It can be recalled that Taylor’s dreadful Police forces named and coded SOD and ruthless Anti-Terrorist Unit ATU marched severely on the campuses of the University of Liberia and killed, maimed, and raped students of the UL. The student’s only crime that warrants such atrocities was gathering to discuss and condemn the wanton anomalies and excesses of the murderous Taylor regime.

Corruption was rampant as Taylor allegedly, perhaps sarcastically stated by his critics to illustrate the magnitude of looting and plundering of state funds that occasioned the notorious and callous rule of Taylor, kept the Vault of the Central Bank in his (Taylor) home. Revenue generated from mineral resources went directly to Taylor or his designated associates. The greasy Maritime yearly intake went to the pockets of Taylor and his closed associates who were later placed on the United Nations travel ban and under severe economic sanctions for excessively looting the country, gun-running, diamond smuggling, human rights abuses, witch hunting perceived adversaries and brazenly menacing the nation and its weary people.

International political observers posited that the enormity of aberration and debauchery that transpired under the infamous rule of Charles Taylor and his henchmen potentially triggered the fierce resistance of his regime by rebel forces like LURD, MODEL, and others coupled with fierce political advocacy led by leading opposition personality and activists in Monrovia. Liberians have no choice but to either stand up for their lives and reclaim their country from the hands of a monster President or fold their hands in timidity and endure the fate of doom. Fundamentally, the mushrooming of rebel forces a year after Charles Taylor assumed office was a righteous resistance toward freedom and a manifest will to decisively end Taylor’s barbarous bondage.

As though menacing the Liberian People was not enough, Charles Taylor would jump into neighboring Sierra Leone and bankroll the callous Revolutionary United Front or RUF that committed an indescribable scale of gruesome atrocities. While he financed the RUF war in Sierra Leone and reportedly got bags of diamonds from the RUF leader, Foday Sankoh (deceased) in return.

Fast forward, Taylor was “deposed” from the Presidency because he brutally misruled the country, indiscriminately murdered Liberians in untold fashion, and pillaged the resources of the country. He was exiled in Calabar, Nigeria, for a while until the United Nations Backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Netherlands drew out his striking indictment of War Crimes and Crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone. The list of crimes committed by Charles Taylor-backed RUF includes; massacres, indiscriminate killings, amputating, maiming, raping, conscripting, and drugging of child soldiers and other recorded atrocities.

Taylor was subsequently arrested, prosecuted, and found guilty of committing War crimes and Crimes against humanity. He was given a jailed term of 50 years in a maximum prison facility in Great Britain. Precisely, on 15 October 2013, Taylor was transferred to British custody and began serving his sentence at HM Prison Frankland in County Durham, England.

Back to the case sagaciously being argued by the government lawyers, Charles Taylor was dishonorably removed from power and doesn’t live a private life in keeping with the law. He is a war criminal disgracefully wallowing in prison for fifty years.
Under international law, war crimes and crimes against humanity are the greatest crimes ever committed on earth, and those found guilty of these crimes are made to face the greatest level of penalties which includes life imprisonment, long prison term, all basic rights seized, benefits and immunities cut off, properties and accounts seized where possible amongst others.

Charles Taylor falls under this category as a notorious war criminal, as such, it is preposterous and disingenuous for him to claim benefits of any sought from Liberia, a country he callously destroyed, murdered hundreds of thousands of its citizens, and looted its resources in no tiny fashion.

International Law and Peace experts postulate that to give Charles Taylor pension and other benefits as former President of Liberia, Liberia will be honoring a war criminal which runs in contrast to international laws and protocols to which it is a signatory. A war criminal who has committed monstrosities in both his country Liberia and his neighbor country Sierra Leone can in no way be honored, he should rather be condemned to the abyss of maximum prison where he is currently languishing.

Besides, Taylor didn’t perform his service as President of Liberia honorably nor did he end his tenure honorably. He misruled the country, inflicted terror on its people, and pillaged its resources to enrich himself and his roguish gang of surrogates. And under the Liberian law as cited above only a President that serves and retires or ends his tenure honorably can be illegible and qualified for Pension benefits and Taylor certainly did not serve honorably nor ended his tenure honorably.

This is the remarkably logical argument the erudite lawyers representing the government have eloquently and appropriately postulated at the ECOWAS Court in Abuja, Nigeria. After hours of back and forth steaming arguments from both sides, Taylor’s lawyers became weary and strangulated by the persuasive argument laid out by the government Lawyers and were compelled to pray the court for additional two months to reply to the intelligent and solid argument propounded by the Government’s Lawyers. Their application was granted and arguments in the case are expected to resume in two months.

Meanwhile, International lawyers and transitional justice experts (names withheld) weighing in on this case are of the view that Taylor and his lawyers are fighting a losing battle as it is extremely difficult if not impossible to win such a case where the evidence against the applicant/Plaintiff (Taylor) is profoundly overwhelming. Taylor violated both Liberian laws and international laws and as a convicted war criminal he is not entitled to pension and other benefits from Liberia especially when the records vividly show that he notoriously and dishonorably misruled Liberia and terrified its people.

Former President Charles Taylor is represented by Counselors Demo Falana, SAN, Funmi Falana, Mrs, and James L. Supuwood, ESQ. His wife Victoria B. Addison Taylor was present at the first argument. The Law Firm hired by Taylor and his family is FALANS & FALANA and is said to be a Nigeria Law Firm.

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