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Supreme Court snubs Weah

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The Supreme Court here has ruled that President George Manneh Weah’s decision to remove from office, National Lottery Authority (NLA) Managing Director Martin Sallie Kollie “was not within the pale of the law.”

“…[That] there being no showing that any of the conditions under which the Director General of the National Lottery may be removed from office by the President of Liberia before the expiry of his tenure had expired, his removal was not within the pale of the law,” the Supreme Court ruled Monday, 5 August.

In April this year the Executive Mansion here announced that President Weah had suspended Mr. Kollie for time indefinite, pending the outcome of a full-scale investigation for alleged acts of impropriety.But Mr. Kollie challenged his removal from office by the president through a petition for the writ of prohibition filed before the Supreme Court.

According to the Court’s judgment, the same Article 89 of the Constitution of Liberia that specifically created three autonomous public commissions also authorizes the Legislature to create other agencies as may be necessary for the effective operation of government and enact into laws for their governance.

The Court says that even though the nomenclature does not so expressly depict, the NLA however enjoys all the attributes of an autonomous public commission.

As such, the Supreme Court rules that the Legislature acted within the scope of its authority in enacting laws for its governance, including the provision of tenure for its Director General.The Court indicates that an Act passed by the Legislature is presumed to be constitutional unless the contrary is clearly shown.

The Supreme Court adds that the Legislature is presumed to have acted constitutionally in passing a statute and that courts must start out with the presumption that the statute is constitutional and valid and that every intendment is in the favor of the validity of the statute.

“That there is no showing that the Act passed by the Legislature providing tenure for the Director General of the National Lottery Authority is in violation of the power granted the President of the Republic of Liberia under Article 56(a) of the Constitution to appoint and dismiss at his pleasure, officials of government appointed by him,” the Supreme Court says.

The Court says it sees no reason to declare the said Act unconstitutional as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General has urged the Court to do.The Court continues that Section 8.1(b) of the Act establishing the National Lottery Authority provides that the Director General of the institution shall hold office for an initial period of four years but may be reappointed for another four years and no more.

Notwithstanding, the provision says the Director General may resign his post by notice in writing addressed to the President of Liberia through the Board of Directors.

Additionally, the provision says the Director General may be removed by the President of Liberia through the Board of Directors or may be removed by the President for inability to discharge the functions of his office, whether arising from infirmity of mind, any cause or for proved misconduct.

But in the Court’s ruling, it says there is no showing that any of the conditions under which the Director General of NLA may be removed before the expiry of his tenured had occurred.It says the removal of Mr. Kollie was not within the pale of the law.The Supreme Court orders the Clerk to inform the parties in the case to give effect to the judgment.By Winston W. Parley

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