Supreme Court Orders Vice President Taylor To Re-instate Suspended LMA President “With Immediate Effect”
Monrovia – At long last the case involving Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and that of the suspended President of the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) came to an end on Thursday, August 22, with the Supreme Court ordering the Vice President to re-instate with immediate effect the LMA suspended President.
Report by Kennedy L. Yangian, [email protected]
The newly inducted Associate Justice Yussif Kaba gave the order in his opinion delivered on behalf of the high court in the case on Thursday at the close of the March 2019 Term of the Supreme Court.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, the final ruling of the trial court ordering the re-instatement of the appellees with immediate effect is hereby affirmed,” said Associate Justice Kaba.
The Supreme Court’s opinion came after the July17, 2019 arguments into an appeal filed to the high court by lawyer representing Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor to overturn the decision of the lower court in favor of the suspended LMA President.
Cllr. Wesseh Alphonso Wesseh, who is also the Assistant Minister of Justice for Litigation argued that the suspension of Madam Yeebahn by Vice President Taylor came from the backdrop that the LMA is a public corporate entity created by the Act of the Legislature and since its inception the LMA has been under the supervision of the Executive Branch with budgetary appropriation place under the Office of the Vice President.
Wesseh furthered the decision to suspend Madam Yeebahn was aimed at ensuring, transparency and accountability within the LMA as some aggrieved members of the association had accused their president of corruption and financial mal-practices and that she was suspended in order to conduct and audit to ascertain the facts in the allegation.
“The LMA being such public entity, the suspension of Madam Alice Yeebahn by the Vice President, who has oversight over the LMA was a political decision by the Executive Branch of Government and therefore the court lacks the competence to review such decision,” said Wesseh.
According to Wesseh, the trial Judge erred to rule in Madam Yeebahn’s favor because she filed the petition of Judicial Review outside of the 30-day statutory period provided for filing, she did not have the capacity to sue and that the trial judge also erred because the decision to suspend the LMA President was political in nature and therefore said decision is not subject to review by the trial court.
In the counter argument, Cllr. Arthur Johnson called on the high court to dismiss the appeal for judicial review because the action of the Vice President was the violation of the due process right as guaranteed in Article (20) (a) of the 1986 Constitution.
Cllr. Johnson also argued that the Vice President’s action was also in violation of the Act that establishes the Liberia Marketing Association on the removal or impeachment of elected officials.
The 2010 Amended Act establishing the LMA says that elected officers shall hold their offices for the period of four years during good behavior and shall be eligible for re-election once.
Part of the Act also states that Executive officers may be removed from office by impeachment due to any reason whatsoever and such vacancy shall be filled by a majority vote of members of the Executive committee pending the annual sitting of the National Assembly and that the Assembly shall conduct an election during its annual sitting to fill the vacancy and the newly elected officers shall complete the unexpired term of his or her predecessor.
Prior to his final ruling, Associate Justice Kaba said the high court was not convinced that the lower court Judge erred in his ruling and indicated that it is a well –organized rule of law that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property or any other right except as the outcome of the hearing judgment consistent with the provision laid down in the Constitution and in accordance to due process (Article 20 of the 1986 Constitution).
According to Judge Kaba, the court cannot act on mere allegation of the petitioner without the appropriate proof otherwise the court would be setting a new lower standard that persons making allegations do not have to present proof to substantiate the allegations.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, the final ruling of the trial court is affirmed, the Clerk of this Court is ordered to send a mandate to the court below to proceed in accordance with the opinion, costs disallowed and it is hereby so ordered,” ruled Judge Kaba.
Madam Yeebahn, who was in the court for the ruling, smiled and hugged her supporters, who had gathered outside the court. She told journalists that she welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision because it was based on the facts.
According to her, she has no personal differences with Vice President Taylor and is willing to work with her and that the reason she chose to go to court was to safeguard her integrity.
“I will continue my work with the CDC Government to ensure that the Pro-Poor Agenda is achieved,” said the smiling Yeebahn.
Yeebahn was elected as President of the Liberia Marketing Association in 2017 one year afterward she was suspended by Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor based on allegations of financial mal-practices from which the court ruled was made without any proof.