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“The Rodney Sieh’s Imprisonment: My Opinions & Observations”:

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A Response

In an article, Opinion (The New Dawn, August 29, 2013), Mr. Ambrose Wotorson, Esq., provides reasoned, legal opinions/observations on the recent development as indicated above. In articulating legal grounds for the denial/dismissal of the FPA/Rodney Sieh appeal to the Supreme Court, Attorney Wotorson held that “because the Editor-in-Chief refused to follow through on the appeal, believed that the Supreme Court would not be fair . . . That is not, as Bai Gbala recently wrote, a ‘mere’ technicality. It is an act (FPA refusal to follow through on the appeal) that deprived the Supreme Court of jurisdiction and an opportunity to hear the FPA’s side of the story”.

My reference to the Supreme Court’s denial/dismissal of the appeal as “legal technicality” was in recognition of the Court’s legal authority for such a denial/dismissal, while I recognize, also, that within the purview of the Court’s lawful authority as the final, legal interpreter of our law, it (the Court) could have assumed “jurisdiction”, which would have afforded the “opportunity to hear FPA’s side of the story”, given the critical, over-riding issues of our socio-economic and political problems, now prevailing. These problems are, in fact, challenges that threaten not only the peace & security of the citizens, but, also, the foundation upon which the nation rests and, in turn, the very survival of the citizens and nation. This threat includes the Court and Judges!!

The Problem, challenges and Threats to our Survival – Corruption, Inc.

Un-informed and outside of Liberia, one may ask, what are the problems and their potential threats? Elsewhere, we held that corruption is a universal phenomenon, a vice found in every country, culture and society, irrespective of the level of socio-economic and political advancement, and that corruption is intrinsic in human nature. As such, Liberia and Liberians do not have a monopoly of corruption. However, it has been shown, and shows, that corruption can be controlled, significantly reduced and, eventually, eradicated. But Liberian corruption control, with its uniqueness, is elusive, let alone reduction and eradication. It is unique, because it permeates all public policy decision-making. Indeed, the incidence of corruption is so pervasive today, in Liberia, that the nation’s current President declared that “corruption is Liberia’s public enemy no.1”, and the nation described by world, economic watchers as the “most corrupt nation” on earth.

Now, today, corruption in Liberia has been developed into what may be described as Corruption, Inc., a thriving, big business, an industry, by a corps of MBAs, LLMs, PhDs, etc., well-placed and connected in strategic departments of government, such that Corruption, Inc. controls not only the corridors of state power, but wields unquestioned, potent political power that and may be likened to the Mafia. Among other sources, Corruption, Inc. has captured and is financed by the lawful Salary/Wage Allowance System, a public policy designed to aid civil service employees, government and state enterprise executives. The recent, FY2013-2014 National Budget submitted to the National Legislature for approval disclosed a massive, public dishonesty in Salary/Wage Allowance “allocations” as “general’, “special”, and “salary/wage” allowances; expenditures as “general expense”, “special expense”, “operational expense”, “newspaper purchase”, “scholarship give-aways”; and “domestic and foreign travel allowances”, etc. for all ministers, state enterprise executives, their deputies and assistances, Supreme Court Judges, and executives of the National Legislature. Some are provided, also, with electric power generators with fuel and service at public expense.

All of this, while there is widespread unemployment, poverty, decease, hopelessness and no-where-to-turn-ness, with disappointment and anger among thousands of migrant street-sellers in Monrovia and in rural Liberia, particularly the young and youthful citizens who constitute an estimated 60% of the nation’s population. The wholesale, college entrance examination failures reported are due, primarily, to poverty – hunger, unsanitary living conditions in the shanty enclaves in metropolitan Monrovia where, almost, all of them live, lack of text books, inadequate instruction and materials, etc., etc. These conditions are threats and potential disaster!!

Indeed, a court of law, particularly, the Supreme Court, is a serious and inherent participant in the public policy, decision-making matrix; in that, the legal finality of its interpretative rulings/decisions on contested provisions of the constitution (case law) are recognized, accepted and treated as “law” (public policy). Therefore, the decision to “hear the FPA’s side of the story”, concerned with alleged, massive corruption would have been an exercise of the court’s a public policy responsibility, in the effort to avert a potential tragedy. 

The Power of the sitting, Liberian Presidents

We agree and admit that “there is no (visible, physical) evidence of the executive arm (president) of government being involved in the civil lawsuit . . .”, but historically and in the context of our constitutional prescription, the “executive arm” (president) had been and is all over the place. Prescribed by and enshrined in our constitution, all executive power is vested in a president, an imperial president, who controls, unquestionably, the other two branches of government, the appointment of all executives in the Executive Branch and Judges of all lower courts, including Judges of the Supreme Court. All appointees serve at the “will & pleasure of the President”, including traditional politics for election of friendly candidates, irrespective of political party association. Some recent, power-plays: 

In the case CDC/Liberty Party versus The Executive Government (represented by the President) in which the political parties sought to restrain the Executive from gaining “appointment” powers to retaining “elective” powers; this request was made to secure “appointment” powers in order to appoint city mayors. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court granted those powers in a decision delivered on January 11, 2008, despite constitutional prescriptions to the contrary.

Moreover, the most recent case in point (of executive presence/involvement in legal/political issues) was the legal confirmation/appeal to President Sirleaf by the Ruling Party (of which the President is Flag Bearer) Chairman, who is, also, one of nation’s prominent attorneys as well as confidante of the President, when he said to the President, during the recent, Independent Day Oration, in seeking/advising action, “Madam President, I submit to you (that) in a country (our country) every successful political program or action must be driven by the highest political Office of the President”.

Final Resolution of the Impasse

We are not privy to the “well-reasoned position on the FrontPageAfrica issue taken by the ANC  Political party . . .”, but we note, from the grapevine, rumors of the powerful wheelers/dealers behind the scenes, a traditional approach to get the President involved which, we believe, is unlikely, because of the wide-spread publicity of the lawful, ethical position of the executive (president) position of not being involved in a rational, legal lawsuit, while the ECOWAS approach is far-fetched as a legal alternative. A “writ of Mandamus”, in our opinion and at this point, will bring the issue to a legal fight by the Court in order to protect and preserve its image and stature as the nation’s highest legal guru, if the writ is granted and issued. That leaves the FPA and Dr. Chris Toe.

Dr. Chris Toe

The former Minister of Agriculture has nothing to lose, again, in our opinion, by withdrawing his claim against the FrontPage Africa newspaper; simply, because of the widespread publicity of the decision by the Supreme Court of the nation in his favor and that the imprisonment of the Managing Editor is sufficient remedy. This shows, publicly, that the allegations against him were and are false.

The FPA and Its Managing Editor

The FPA/Managing Editor, according to the grapevine, holds a rigid, solid position against the prevailing, widespread, public dishonesty (corruption) and, unlikely to change; therefore, the aggressive, investigative reporting.  The allegations of dishonest activities against Dr. Chris Toe as Minister of Agriculture as reported, they (FPA & its managing editor) claim, were clearly documented and supported by documentations submitted by the GAC, and that there was no libel committed (see FPA’s response to Dr. Toe’s complaint, New Democrat, August 22, 2013). Mr. Rodney Sieh is now hospitalized at the JFK for undisclosed illness.

Possibility of Peaceful Resolution

Perhaps, just perhaps, a truly private intervention by truly independent personality (ies) with demonstrated, progressive record, and the “guts”, of speaking out, unequivocally, against the socio-economic and political ills that grip our country, including Corruption, Inc., to save the day. For, the image, moral rectitude and survival of the nation are at stake. This suggestion of truly-private/truly-independent intervention is a requirement, necessary to re-gain the confidence of the FPA/managing editor group that is lost, such that the group does not believe in the present “system”.

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