Home Politics ‘Ultra Vires’ …S/Court Slams Boakai’s Removal of Tenure Officials; Revokes Several Nominations of The President

‘Ultra Vires’ …S/Court Slams Boakai’s Removal of Tenure Officials; Revokes Several Nominations of The President

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By: Frank P. Martin

MONROVIA: All eyes were set on the Supreme Court of Liberia yesterday when it rendered judgment into legal battles that bordered on the removal from offices some state officials who were still serving in tenured positions by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai.

The Supreme Court ruled against President Boakai’s decision to nominate officials to the Liberia National Lottery Authority, Governance Commission, National Identification Registry, and Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA).

When the case was called for hearing yesterday, top lawyers including Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson, Samuel Y. Zaza, Cllr. Alexander B. Zoe, Fredrick L. Gbemie and James N. Kumeh appeared for some of the petitioners.

Cllr. N. Oswald Tweh, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia and Cllr. J. Adophus Karnuah, appeared for the Executive Branch of Government.

The Chief Justice of Liberia, Her Honor, Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh, in her Ruling delivered on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, said Article 89 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, which gives the Legislature the authority to create autonomous agencies does not contravene Article 56 of the Constitution of Liberia.

Chief Justice Yuoh stated that the Act by the President of Liberia in nominating persons to the petitioners’ positions while their tenures are still in force and unexpired is tantamount to their removal from office.

She noted that there has been no showing of the existence of any of the conditions for the petitioners’ removal from offices as stipulated in the Acts creating the respective entities to which the petitioners are appointed.

According to the Chief Justice, their said removal from offices prior to the expiry of their tenures without due process is “ultra vires”, which means acting or done beyond one’s legal power or one’s authority.
Therefore, the Chief Justice ordered that the alternative writ of prohibition issued by the Justice in Chambers is hereby affirmed and the preemptory writ prayed for is granted.
The Chief Justice expressed that the nominations giving rise to these petitions are hereby ordered revoked.

However, the High Court also ruled in favor of the Executive Branch of Government’s action to nominate Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo as new Executive Director of the Executive Protection Agency, replacing prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh.

Supreme Court Associate Justice, Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie, reading the ruling from the High Court, said the EPA Act, Part lll-Organization and Administration of the Agency, Section 16.1 requires that the Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be appointed by the president from a list of three names recommended by the council with a tenure of seven (7) years; and that the president may appoint an interim Executive Director pending the formation of the Council; hence, in the absence of the formation of, and recommendation from, the Policy Council, the appointment of the petitioner by former President George Manneh Weah was an interim appointment for which tenure is inapplicable.
Justice Wolokollie further stated that Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh, having failed to establish by documentary proof that he was chosen from among a list of three (3) persons recommend by the Policy Council to the former President, and to make mention of his election process in his petition regarding the existence or submission of said list to include his name, he is not entitled to tenure under the EPA Act.

Associate Justice Wolokollie added that the ruling established that the petitioner served in an interim Executive Director capacity at the EPA, his removal was in consonance with the Executive Order 123, signed by former President George M. Weah, Sr., on November 22, 2023, in which he stated that “all non-tenure presidential appointees shall be presumed to have resigned as of the date of the inauguration” of the new President, Joseph N. Boakai.

The Associate Justice averred that the writ of prohibition will not be granted by the Court whereas, in the instant case, the respondent, the Executive Branch of Government, did not proceed wrongly by appointing Dr. Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo as interim Executive Director of the EPA in the absence of the formation of the policy council.
“The alternative writ of prohibition issued by the Justice in Chambers is hereby quashed, and the peremptory writ prayed for denied,” the justice noted.

This followed a writ of Prohibition filed by some embattled officials of the government whose names were replaced by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai recently on grounds that they violated their tenures when they openly and actively campaigned for the erstwhile ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), against the code of conduct of the Liberia.

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