Liberia: Unity Party Embattled Chairman Back to Supreme Court with Complaint against the Party

Embattled former ruling Unity Party’s chairman, Wilmot Paye (left) in conversation with his lawyer, Cllr. Arthur Johnson after court session on Tuesday

Monrovia – The suspension of former ruling Unity Party (UP) Chairman Wilmot Paye by the party’s executive committee is far from over as the case has been transferred from the lower Circuit Court to the Supreme Court.

Presiding Judge Peter Gbeneweleh of Civil Law Court “A” at the Temple of Justice ordered the case to the Full Bench of the Supreme Court Tuesday, February 18, following an argument into petition by Paye’s lawyer for declaratory judgment.

The petition for the Writ of Declaratory Judgment was filed on behalf of the suspended Unity Party (UP) Chairman to the Civil Law Court “A” after Cllr. Arthur Johnson had withdrawn a petition for a Writ of Prohibition filed before former Chamber Justice Yussif Kaba.

In the letter, Cllr. Arthur Johnson stated: “Please spread on the minutes of court that the petitioner in the above cause of action most respectfully withdraws the petitioner’s petition for the writ of prohibition, which was filed in this honorable court before the Chamber Justice, His Honor Yussif Kaba with the right to re-file if the need arises.”

 At Tuesday’s hearing at the Civil Law Court, Cllr Johnson argued that the Unity Party’s Constitution provides that decision rendered by the Executive Committee cannot be reviewed and is binding on every partisan, which Cllr. Johnson says violates Section 1 Article of the 1986 Constitution.

He furthered that the action by the party’s Executive Committee to suspend its chairman without due process violates Article 20 of the 1986 Constitution.

“Your Honor, this decision was maliciously done and I want you to restore the right of the suspended chairman because it was done without due process,” added Cllr. Johnson

Cllr Johnny Momoh for the Unity Party stated that the party’s constitution provides that the decision of the Executive Committee is binding and can’t be reviewed.

“Your Honor, Paye is aware of the Unity Party (UP) Constitution because it is the same Constitution he used to suspend other members of the party.”

Following the arguments, Judge Peter Gbeneweleh after a closed door meeting returned to the court and ruled into the petition.

“A lot of constitutional issues have been raised in this case and this court can’t hear Constitutional matter; therefore the Clerk of this court is hereby ordered to transfer the matter to the Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court,” ruled Judge Gbeneweleh. 

Paye was suspended by the UP leadership on January 21, 2020 for two weeks and subjected him to investigation after he allegedly unilaterally issued a statement calling on partisans and citizens not to participate in the January 6, 2020 protest organized by the Council of Patriots.

The Council of Patriots’ January 6 protest organized and led by its leader, popular talk show host Henry Costa, was staged according to its organizers to draw the George Weah-led government’s attention to address several pressing issues in the country among them the devastating state of the country’s economy.

But Paye says the action of the UP leadership to suspend him and subject him to investigation was illegal and malicious and wanted the Civil Law Court to restore his right.