August 28, 2012, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announced to the nation, the early retirement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, His Honor Johnnie N. Lewis. The announcement to the nation was predicated upon an official letter to the President by His Honor Johnnie N. Lewis on the same day for early retirement from the position of Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia. His request was in consonance with his desire to seek medical attention abroad due to his deteriorating health, something he has already done.
The news of Chief Justice Lewis’ retirement, which began effective Monday, September 10, 2012, ended weeks of wide-spread speculation about his deteriorating medical condition and inability to perform his duties.. Even though his poor health could no longer afford him the opportunity to continue serving the people of Liberia, we at the New Dawn-Liberia will continue not only to remember, but hold Cllr. Johnnie N. Lewis at the highest esteem for his tremendous efforts in transforming the Liberian Judiciary.
While there may have also been difficulties in his reform efforts raid the Liberian Judiciary of corruption, Johnnie N. Lewis will still have an important place in the minds of well-meaning Liberians for the dignity and pride he restored to the Judiciary and the legal profession in Liberia. Such dignity and pride include good salaries, benefits and working conditions, as well as the provision of scholarships under the auspices of the Supreme Court of Liberia that are now attracting many to the Louis Arthur Grimes School of law at the University of Liberia to make law as a career.
More than the foregoing,, Johnnie N. Lewis must be hailed by all of us for removing court houses not only from private buildings, but dilapidated structures to more modern and government-built structures across the country with the necessary logistics, including vehicles further motivating our brothers and sisters in the legal profession to lobby and seek assignments just anywhere across Liberia.
If there no one to praise him, we at the New Dawn-Liberia then take pride in showering the ‘old man’ with all of the warm sentimental platitudes not on the basis of mere public relations as is being done by other public officials, but the practical realities we see ‘all over the place’ in Liberia. Of course, also, we do appreciate the support/assistance of the Government of the United States, through USAID and American Bar, the United Nations and other international partners, which helped to propel the progress of the Liberian Judiciary for the past six years under His Honor Johnnie N. Lewis as Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia.
We are of the fervent belief that it was the appreciable level of accountability and transparency characterizing the conduct of the Johnnie N. Lewis Administration at the Supreme Court of Liberia that won the confidence of the its international partners to restore such dignity and pride to the judiciary. As we congratulate His Honor Johnnie N. Lewis, who has already in his retirement, for his achievements at the Supreme Court of Liberia, we can only hope that other public officials will see him as a practical example in our government’s efforts towards our country’s growth and development at all levels.
Public officials must avoid their ongoing un-necessary ‘praise-singing’ to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on radio stations and in newspapers , probably to attract her attention for job security, and allow the impact of their responsibilities be felt just as was done by former Chief Justice Johnnie N. Lewis. If and only if Liberian Government officials can graduate from “empty public relations, back-biting and inflated impressions’ to good human relations and unity in the respective ministries and agencies, as well as their communities and country at large, achievements could even be greater those of the former Liberian Chief Justice, and then, in a short period of time, the practical realities of national growth and development would be seen and felt.
As former Chief Justice Johnnie N. Lewis undergoes medication abroad, we can only pay homage to him for what he ‘left behind’ as achievements of the Judiciary, as well as pray to invoke God’s healing hands on him for long life.