POLITICIANS ARE usually a strange kind of humans.
FROM AFAR WHEN they aren’t within the realms of the trappings of power, they make the loudest noise to be heard.
SOME GO UNDER THE CLOAK of “human rights” activists, vociferously but falsely fronting for the “rights” of Liberians.
REMEMBER THE NAME, James N. Verdier? Many might not have remembered his background but a brief trip down memory lane perhaps will help you know where our GPS is leading us.
IN YEARS GONE BY WHEN he had graduated from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia, Cllr. Verdier was tapped by venerable Catholic Archbishop, Michael Kpakala Francis, to head the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
IN THAT ROLE, HE failed not to miss a moment to appear in the media to build his resume’ as a staunch defender of human rights, free press, freedom of speech, rights of pre-trial detainees etc.
HE WOULD LATER LEAVE the commission to obtain an LL.M in International Human Rights Law at the University of Notre Dame School of Law in the United States.
HOWEVER, SINCE THE appointment of Cllr. Verdier as Chairman of the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission, his posture has since changed especially as it relates to the media having access to information from the LACC.
IN A RECENT INTERVIEW WITH FrontPage Africa, Cllr. Verdier stated that unless the reason for the release for the information is provided, he would not, come hell or high water, he doesn’t see any reason why information should be released.
“THE FOI IS STILL controversial and I have a reservation - if the court say we will abide but if anyone make a request you have to show your standing and how does it benefit the work you are about to do, you can’t just write a letter and want us to respond to it, I hold no prejudice for that,” he said.
BUT SECTION 3.1 OF THE FOI law states: “All public information held by public bodies and those held by private entities in respect of public funding received or public services provided shall be accessible, and may be inspected, requested, provided, reproduced and retained as provided in this Act.
“SECTION 3.2 REQUEST for Information: Every person, irrespective of their nationality or residence, may request, receive, reproduce and retain any information held by (1) a public authority or (2) private entity that receives public funds or engage in public functions or provision of public service; provided that in respect of private entities, the information shall relate to the public funds, benefit, functions or service.
“SECTION 3.3 DESCRIPTION of information Requested: Every request shall describe the information requested with reasonable details that would enable the public authority or private entities easily identify the information. Additional specification of the information may be provided by the requester by any means and at any time, including in responses to questions from personnel of the authority or entity.
SECTION 3.4 FORM OF REQUEST: Request for information may be filed in writing, by electronic mail, or orally in person, or by any alternative means.
“SECTION 3.5 REASON FOR Request: The right to request information is independent of personal interest in the information, and no one shall be asked or required to provide a justification or reason for requesting any information.”
THIS IS THE VERY LAW MR. Verdier helped to write but now out of sudden wants to shirk from the fiducial responsibility of upholding it.
THIS KIND OF ATTITUDINAL disposition is typical of Liberian public officials, especially the lawmakers. They flout the laws of the land at their will and pleasure, seeing themselves at bigshots.
AS A LAWYER, CLLR. VERDIER is saying he is prepared to disrespect and disregard the laws of the land without fear or favor.
NO NATION THRIVES WITHOUT transparency and accountability. It is the foundation upon which good governance is built. Coming from a background of working civil society, this should not be lost on the LACC chairman.
THE LAW IS THE LAW and it is ought to be abided by everyone, including the Chairman of the LACC. Other institutions are warned not to be swayed by the remark of Cllr. Verdier because media institutions would not hesitate to pray the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to be brought down against them. You can’t bake your cake and eat it at the same time.