Cllr. Jallah Barbu: Liberia National Bar Association Candidate Looking to Bring Responsible Leadership
Monrovia – Cllr. Jallah Barbu believes his time has come. The former chair of the Law Reform Commission is among four candidates currently vying to replace learned human rights activist Tiawan Gongloe as head of the Liberia National Bar Association.
Besides Cllr. Barbu, Cllr. Abraham B. Sillah, Cllr. Sylvester D. Rennie and Cllr. Alhaji Swalilo A. Sesay are all in the running for the influential post. But Barbu is confident that the experience and credibility he brings to the table will stand out. “I am very convinced that I am far ahead of the other candidates, and by the Grace of God, my colleagues of the Bar will make the reasonable judgement and elect me as their president. They certainly do not have any doubts in my ability to lead because they know me to be principle-minded, humble, accessible and result-oriented. As the adage goes, “who doesn’t love a good thing?” I am a good thing and I know my colleagues love me.”
The candidate for the LNBA leadership says he is pursuing the post generally referred to as the Bar for many reasons, all directed at providing responsible leadership, professional service, and holistic approach to engaging stakeholders in every sector of the Country. “My history with the Bar is replete with success story, both as a regular member and an official. I once served as General Secretary of the Bar.”
As President of the Bar, Cllr. Barbu says he will dedicate his services to the LNBA by committing to spend at least 60% of his weekly work hours at the headquarter of the Bar. “I will maintain an office in the Bar and will perform my Bar duties from there. Furthermore, I have the capacity and competence and I am fully available to lead the Bar; I hold an enviable record in both academia and professional life; I have a remarkable track record of achievements in Leadership; I am approachable, humble, and innovative; and I am a self-starter. My leadership experience encompasses working with people, no matter who they are, for the collective good of all.”
The learned lawyer says his first order of business if elected by his peers will be to establish cordial professional relationship with the other leaders. “This is even more compelling for the Bar whose members elect individuals to positions, rather than elect officials on a running-mate basis. For the first One Hundred (100) days of my leadership, my primary task will be to first strengthen the internal structure of the Bar.
Cllr. Barbu says he will engage other officials of the Bar for the purpose of developing a policy that encompasses their views about running the Bar and work to merge our platforms.
Cllr. Barbu says he plans within the first two weeks of his reign to focus on the secretariat which is the engine of the Bar’s administration. “The goal is to assess the capacity of the secretariat and undertake a needs assessment exercise to establish realistically the compelling needs of the Bar. That will assist us in matching the current situation with the existing five years plan for the purpose of revising and making it more achievable.”
The candidate says his platform focuses on the larger internal stakeholders of the Bar, that is, its members. “We will develop a suggestion box initiative to solicit the views and concerns of Bar members in whose interests we are elected. It is my hope that this suggestion box initiative will be perpetual but will be in phases. For example, the first 100 days is considered a phase. As suggestions are received, they will be collated by a dedicated team and accordingly, placed under particular categories developed from the needs assessments.”
Cllr. Barbu says if elected, he will also work toward addressing current and evolving concerns between the LNBA and the Judiciary. “I hold the view strongly that the LNBA is not and should never be opposed to the Judiciary; rather, it must be and remain the arm and voice of the Judiciary. My platform provides that the Bar will maintain its independence and integrity, but at the same time will engage the Judiciary respectfully. This is the problem solving and relationship building approach I bring to the Bar.”
Cllr. Barbu has vowed to also set up a user-friendly and standard record-keeping system if elected. “The current system is working, but its glitches are numerous. It would be very helpful to scan and digitize the documents/records of the Bar, and convert them to usable information technology assets that are easily accessible. This will enable a faster retrieval of information required by Bar members and partners. This also leads to efficiency and effectiveness in services provision.”
The candidate also expressed concerns over the construction of the Bar headquarters.”This is why it is within our plan for the first 100 days. A review of the project document, available resources, and the immediate phases to be completed be undertaken. Bar members will have value for their money.”
While looking to work on a 100-day implementation plan, Barbu says a high-level team headed by the president will be assessing the long range plan for the Bar. “Reconfiguring the website that will facilitate information management for both the National Bar and County Bars and establishing and forming partnerships with local and international organizations including the African and American Bar Associations; holistic review of the Bar’s Constitution to determine its responsiveness to current day realities.”
Acknowledging that the justice system in Liberia is challenged, Cllr. Barbu said there is a need to generate public trust and confidence. “Equally so, there is dare need to adequately furnish the system with the basic necessities including personnel and adequate compensation, logistical supplies The Justice System is not the Ministry of Justice; the Judiciary in fact is the bedrock of the system, therefore, judicial autonomy must be felt. No doubt, the Bar is a critical part of ensuring that the justice system and judicial autonomy must be prioritized if their impacts will be felt by the Liberian People. Issues confronting the system are issues for the Bar. For example, when actors in the system are aggrieved, such that their decision may cause public apprehension, and or suggest a system break down, the Bar should quickly intervene to advert any situation that may ultimately cause a breakdown. There is no prohibition on Bar members to step in to assist the Bar or the concerned parties to correct the problem. Unfortunately, some interventions are misinterpreted by the very Bar members. I am a victim of such misinterpretations.” He continued, “As a professional mediator, I was concerned about the decision of Prosecuting Attorneys to boycott Court appearances and when their threat became a reality, and there were no interventions, I engaged the Prosecution Attorney Association through their president, and offered to mediate. With his approval, I engaged a middle level authority of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and informed him about my intention to mediate and assist in having the Prosecutors return to Court. Upon both parties’ consent, the mediation took place at the Ministry of Justice where I was only an observer. The parties themselves resolved the problem complained of by the Prosecutors. Recently, a similar situation was brewing in the Public Defender’s office. As an arm of the Judiciary and because their president and a cross section of its members in a meeting requested me to intervene, I did so. Today, some lawyers are spreading far and wide, apparently as a propaganda machinery, rumors that I am a sponsored candidate of the Government of Liberia. The reality is they are spreading such misinformation simply because I am a force to reckon with in the upcoming elections. The point is, should the LNBA be in tension with the government? Or should lawyers wait for a collapse of the system and then everyone begins to treat the problem as an emergency? I do not think so. I am baffled that on the contrary these people lawyers have refused to acknowledged my enviable contribution to the Justice System including many of them at the Law School, placing significant role in Judicial programs, and most importantly working for the Bar either as member of a committee or chair of the committee, such as the ad-hoc committee that drafted the Art for the Establishment of a Special War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia. Howbeit, this is one of the ways I will engage holistically, serve professionally and lead responsibly. Thus, I remain resolved in holistically engaging all stake holders where necessary, and where problems arise that affect members and associate members of the Bar, to mitigate and resolve issues before they escalate or get out of hands.”
Cllr. Barbu hails from Lofa County, Northern Liberia and has lived substantial portion of his life in Liberia although he has widely traveled to several African and other countries. He is married and blessed with children.
Dr. Jallah A. Barbu holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting with minor in Management from the University of Liberia; he also holds a Bachelor of Law (Hons.) degree from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia. Dr. Barbu earned his first graduate legal studies degree, Master of Laws and terminal legal studies degree, Doctor of Juridical Science from Indiana University Maurer School of Laws in the United States of America. He has earned certificates and diplomas in diverse professional areas including computer studies, management consultancy, alternative dispute resolution, intellectual property, gender equality advocacy and legislative drafting.
Dr. Barbu’s professional experience spans over thirty years in the fields of business, teaching, law, research and Publication.
In the field of business, he has worked as a private and public accountant/auditor, accounting and management consultant, banker, and farmer. He has worked with prestigious institutions including Citibank N.A. Monrovia; VOSCON, Inc., CPA; Deloitte & Touche Consulting, West Africa; and H. Richards & Company, CPAs.
In the field of law, he has practiced at all levels of Liberia’s court system including the Supreme Court whose Bar he has been a member of for at least fifteen years and has enjoyed the extra-ordinary privilege of serving on a number of occasions as amicus curiae of the Court and as a ranking member of the Bar Examination Committees for admission for Attorneys-At-Law and Counsellors-At-Law. In this capacity he has presented hundreds of law graduates in all of the Circuit Courts of Liberia for admission as Attorneys-At-Law to practice law in Liberia.
Dr. Barbu’s legal experience also encompasses managing and/or partnering in law offices in Liberia. In addition to serving as the director of the Institute for Constitutional Research, Policy and Strategic Development (ICRPSD), Dr. Barbu is partner and senior consulting consul of the Public Interest Law Office (PILO). Through its partial pro bono nature, the firm furthers Dr. Barbu’s voluntarily service records.
Dr. Barbu’s teaching experience includes teaching accounting in vocational schools and at the levels of associate and bachelor’s degree, including at the University of Liberia; membership on the faculty of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia where he taught several courses including constitutional law, maritime law, legal accounting, administrative law, moot court, African Law, Constitutional Design, and Legislative Drafting. His classroom experience also includes co-teaching as Assistant Instructor, with professors of law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Bloomington, Indiana, United States of America.
As a researcher and publisher, Dr. Barbu has single handedly and along with other colleagues, published several articles and books. Publication of Liberia’s pioneering Commentary on the Meaning of the Liberian Constitution that covers critical fundamental rights issues involving economic and property rights, privacy, separation of powers and judicial powers, and, a constitutional law course book as a faculty fellow of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, as well as newspaper articles on law have been highly rated by scholars and readers around the world. Dr. Barbu has conducted several high profile and technical research and advisory works for local and international groups, including National Consultant for the Governance Commission and Land Commission, the Liberia Land Authority, the Center for National Documents and Records Agency, the Forestry Development Authority, the Ministry of Finance, and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
Dr. Barbu’s public service experience includes the Ministry of Finance, Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, Booker Washing Institute, and Vice Chairperson and later Chairperson of the Law Reform Commission of Liberia. He was privileged to lead the review and drafting of several legal instruments, most of which have been enacted into law; some of these laws are the Commercial Code and the Act Establishing the Commercial Court; the Act establishing the Liberia Revenue Authority; the Decent Work Act; the Freedom of Information Law; and, the Children’s Law.
Dr. Barbu’s public advisory services extend to the highest public offices of the Government of Liberia; that is, the offices of the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, and has been a member of the Special Presidential Review Committee, an independent body established by the President of Liberia to advise on the legality and economic benefits of concession agreements and contracts entered into by the Government.