In a frontpage, banner headline, the Analyst (Analyst Liberia, February 24, 2014) reports, according to “observers” that CBL “Governor Jones should resign or hold his grounds, if . . “.
The continuing, passionate demonstration of interest and participation in the activities of public officials and public policy debates, for or against, with impact on our nation and people is a new, encouraging phenomenon in public affairs and must be appreciated and supported. On the issue of the CBL amendment an online, Liberian commentator wrote, indicating disagreement with our lawmakers, that the “problem is the flawed, Liberian political system. It needs a complete over-haul”.
Indeed, our Liberian political system had been, and is, flawed from day one, throughout the history of our nation; that members of the National Legislature violate, routinely, laws (sometimes sponsored by them), debated, passed and enacted by them, with impunity; that, for example, Article 30 of the Constitution provides that (only) “Citizens of Liberia . . . are eligible to be members of the Legislature”, but today, almost, a majority of the membership or leading members are citizens o foreign countries; that the age-old practice of “cold water”, now a tradition of bribery, originated from “The House”; that confirmation hearings, investment contracts/agreements, enactments of laws or amendments thereof, of state-owned enterprises submitted for legislative action are major, lucrative sources of bribery, often termed “lobbying fees” (recall the Urey/NOCAL US $50, 000.00 & $150,000.00 or there about); that the recent, disgraceful rejection, ops, conformation of the Honorable LTA Chair, an alleged illegal, irregularities in which the Ministries of Justice and Finance are allegedly involved; that these activities indicate the revival of “you know who I am”, a claim of nobility and preferential treatment; and now, corruption, no longer “rampant”, but “roaring”.
In the light of the foregoing, members of the Legislature summon the “guts” and political will and reviewed, debated and amended some provisions of the law that created Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), and duly passed such amendment. This legislative action was or is not only in fulfillment of that body’s constitutional obligation (Article 29), especially, given the recent, reported depreciation of the nation’s foreign exchange rate, negative impact on the “terms of trade”, and state of the economy, but also, directed towards the objective of over-hauling the historic, flawed, Liberian Political system in a small way, although the lawmakers may have hidden agendas.
We repeat that although the men and women of the National Legislature may have hidden agendas or gripes with Dr. Mills Jones, but the amendment, in real terms, was or is not directed against the private person of Dr. Jones, but Dr. Mills Jones as Governor of the nation’s Central Bank or any person so positioned.
Dishing out public funds for private, political gain by any public official under cloak of micro-finance or loans to selected, individual, political supporters is not only an unfair practice, but illegal, especially, because the Central Bank is not a commercial bank; it is a bankers’ bank with specific responsibilities concerned with national, monetary policy, not making loans. Therefore, it is reasonable that public officials with unlimited access to public funds and related resources be restricted from use of those resources for private, personal gain, political or non-political.
For the information of our readers, it is necessary that we respond to the Constitutional provisions referenced by the observers, Articles 20, 21 & 77(b).
Article 20 is a Fundamental bill of Rights guaranteed all Liberians, including Dr. Mills Jones, a bonafide, prominent Liberian. However, not only that Dr. Jones was or is not in a court of law charged with commission of an offence deemed (by him) to be denial of his rights as a Liberian, but also that RIGHTS are not absolute; enjoyment of rights thereof are conditional to defined performance or obedience to prescribed law. For example, the right to the Holy Matrimony is conditional to procurement of marriage license; the right to enjoy one’s liberty, freedom of movement and stay out detention is conditional to refrain from committing criminal acts, obedience to law.
Article 21 provides that “No person shall be made subject to any law or punishment which was not in effect at the time of commission of an offense, nor shall the legislature enact any bill of attainder or ex post facto law”. As such, this constitutional provision does not apply, because this law (the CBL amendment) passed in 2014 takes effect in 2018, four years hence, the time of enforcement. Moreover, no one, including Dr. Jones, is in court now, charged under the passed amendment.
Article 77(b) says that “all elections shall be by secret ballot as may be determined by the Elections Commission, and every Liberian citizen not less than 18 years of age, shall have the right to be registered as voter and to vote in elections and referenda under this Constitution. The Legislature shall enact no form or become members of political parties”.