Members of the former 53rd Liberia Legislature have filed a petition for a Writ of Mandamus before the Supreme Court of Liberia, seeking to compel the House of Representatives and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to pay their salary and benefit arrears that were budgeted and signed into law.
According to a press release issued in Monrovia last Thursday, January 19, the arrears owed former lawmakers were allotted in the Special Budget of 2021, but the House of Representatives and the Ministry of Finance have refused overtime to perform their legal duties, as required by the law by processing and making payments accordingly.
In the petition filed by Cllr. Willie D. Barclay, Jr, of the Century Law Office representing the aggrieved former lawmakers with the Clerk of the Supreme Court, the former lawmakers, who served from 2012 to 2018 led by former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Worlea-Saywah Dunah and former Bong County legislator, Attorney George S. Mulbah request the Liberian apex court to compel House Speaker Bohfal Chambers, Deputy Speaker Jonathan Koffa, the Leadership of the House, the entire Plenary of the House of Representatives along with the Minister of Finance plus all Deputy Ministers, all Assistant Ministers and the Comptroller General of Liberia to perform their constitutional and statutory duties by enforcing the Budget law by which the full amount of $832,000,00 captured in Section 4.7 of the Special Budget Law printed into handbill on July 1, 2021.
In a resolution by the former lawmakers which led to the action before the Supreme Court, the former lawmakers described the refusal to implement the Budget law as illegal and a violation of the laws of the land; the Resolution states further that Speaker Chambers and the entire plenary of the House of Representatives of the 54th Liberian Legislature and the Ministry of Finance defiance of the budget law though under oaths to enforce the constitution and all laws of Liberia relative to their functions are in violation of the Constitution of Liberia, the Legislative Law of Liberia (Title 19, Liberia Code of Law Revised), the Rules of House of Representatives and the Special Budget Statute of July 1, 2021.
The former lawmakers added that after numerous engagements over the past five years, they were convinced that their former colleagues headed by Speaker Chambers were holding these conversations in bad faith as shown by their repeated refusal to implement the law that they passed to pay the arrears and therefore left them with no choice but to take legal recourse.
“The Resolution condemns their actions as adverse to all principles of good governance and institutional good practices given that they have willfully refused, deliberately neglected, consistently denied, repeatedly obfuscated, and unlawfully stonewalled the enforcement of the law requiring them to pay the budgeted arrears to even though they are under constitutional oath to always implement and uphold the laws of Liberia” the former lawmakers explained.
At the same time, the former lawmakers have expressed high confidence in the judiciary, which they described in their Resolution as having a history of dispensing justice without fear and favors, and are certain of the true interpretation of the laws as all is set for the nation’s highest court in this matter. Editing by Jonathan Browne