Liberia: Supreme Court Orders Bong County Authorities to Establish County Council Before Holding County Sitting￼
GBARNGA, Bong County – Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokolie has ruled in favor of the Bong County Civil Society Council, mandating the leadership of the county to establish a County Council before the holding of a County Council Sitting.
Justice Wolokolie’s decision comes two weeks after the Foundation for International Dignity (FIND), the Media and Civil Education-Liberia (MACE), and Delta Human Rights Foundation, Incorporation – three member organizations of the Bong Civil Society Council – filed a Writ of Prohibition to the Supreme Court of Liberia for a hold of the County Council Sitting, which was scheduled for April 23.
Journalist Moses Bailey of MACE, Jesse Cole of DHRFI argued that holding a County Council Sitting contravened the Local Government Act of 2018.
“Article 19 of the Local Government Act of 2018 requires an appointed body of a county having regulatory, representative and confirmatory functions and powers.
Article Twenty also gives following the following key functions to the County Council: Promulgate ordinances, rules and regulations for the promotion of peace, unity, reconciliation, maintenance of public order and security, and the delivery of basic public goods and services, consistent with law
Impose local taxes, rates, duties, fees and, fines within limits prescribed by the Legislature;”
“Establish rules to govern the activities of the Council and the administration of the Council Support Office;
Authorize the issuance of certain licenses and operating permits designated by the Legislature; approve the annual county budget; approve the county development plan and its implementation.”
Justice Wolokolie’s decision is a major blow to Bong County Caucus chairperson, District Six lawmaker Moima Briggs-Mensah, had who had said that the Bong Civil Society Council had no standing order to file a Writ of Prohibition before the High Court and that they’re not in the best interest of the county.
The statements made by Briggs-Mensah has been greeted with commendations, with many calling on her to read and comprehend the Local Government Act of 2018 before making statement on the radio.
Commendations for ForumCIV
Residents of Bong have praised ForumCIV, a non-governmental organization stationed in Bong County, for the role it continues to play along with the Bong County Civil Society Council in exposing ills in the county through investigative research.
In 2021, ForumCiv supported three civil society organisations in Bong to conduct an investigative research of funds that were allocated for development during the 2018 County Council Sitting.
The report of the investigative research was also validated by the General Auditing Commission which revealed gross mismanagement of the money and neglect of standard procurement laws in the use of USD1.7 million.
The research of the civil society organisations was funded by ForumCiv a Swedish organisation that has its headquarters in Gbarnga, Bong County.
Early 2022, ForumCiv signed a new grant agreement with the Embassy of Sweden near Monrovia. The new programme, which runs from 2022 to 2022, will contibute to strengthening the capacities of CSOs that are based in rural counties to work for ‘a just and sustainable world where all people have the power to effet change’.
Amongst several other development instruments including the PAPD and the 2018 Land Rights Act, the programme by ForumCiv will also promote the Local Government Law which supports local ownership of development as well as the participation people who live in marginalization in the governance process.
ForumCiv is supporting civil society to increase awareness about the Local Government Law and the Land Rights Act.