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Special Feature


Indeed, Liberian policymakers and intelligentsia, the informed – middle- and upper-class citizens – have not learned, not persuaded nor convinced that town traps set for rats do not “catch only rats”, although the nation has been subjected to, and experienced, the mind-boggling devastation of the truth, reality and consequences of the wisdom of this simple, but powerful saying by the lowly, non-commissioned, military officer, turned political philosopher.

Supreme Court Dissenting Opinion
But, in a blistering, scathing Dissenting Legal Opinion, Associate Justices Philip Banks and Jamesetta Wolokolie, of the Liberian Supreme Court, on the basis of the profound wisdom of the “Town Trap”, challenged the legal, intellectual and moral foundation of the Supreme Court Ruling, written by their colleagues, the majority on the Court Bench, against the Citizens Solidarity Council in the case deeply concerned about the critical issues of human reason, fair-play, justice, equity, law, patriotism and the very survival of the nation, brought before the High Court on appeal.

Also, not satisfied with the “in-house” legal gymnastics, His Honor Philip Banks, in a newspaper article, “Reminds Supreme Court” and the Liberian people about the grave consequences of the 1980 Coup d’état”, with the ghastly, spine-chilling photograph of the BTC executions (Hot Pepper, July 5, 2016).

According to the Hot Pepper newspaper, the Associate Justices Bank and Wolokolie reminded the Supreme Court and the Nation that “The . . . 13 former officials of government (were) . . . executed for the . . . reason of subjugating the Constitution to the statutes, legislations and executive orders. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, James A. A. Pierre, was executed along with 12 . . . officials for corruption and misuse of public office . . . primarily, for a case he (the Chief Justice) presided over and exonerated some Lebanese merchants from charge of murder” for killing a Liberian”.

“The Liberian, who worked for the Lebanese in their supermarket, was hungry and decided to suck a candy from the shelf. The Lebanese got furious and strangled the fellow to death. It was the late Cllr. Tilmon Dunbar, owner of a poultry farm, who represented the (Lebanese) merchants. When the case reached the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Pierre ruled in favor of the Lebanese and they were freed. When the coup occurred, Justice James A. A Pierre was executed and Cllr. Tilmon Dunbar fled to the United States, into exile . . . and died in exile”.

According to the Newspaper, Banks and Wolokolie wrote that, “Today’s (Majority) decision reminds us of the days when, although the Constitution provided for equal rights for all of the citizens of Liberia, our indigenous citizens could not exercise certain of their rights guaranteed by the sacred instrument, including the right to vote or even campaign for the person whom they believed could serve the best interest of the nation, primarily because of legislative and executive fiat in manipulating and subordination the Constitution by legislations and executive orders”.

History likely to repeat itself, if . . .

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Associate Justices Banks and Wolokolie, by their Legal, Dissenting Opinion and Justice Bank’s newspaper article, reminded Liberian political policymakers, politically-connected, wheeler-dealer, legal-tycoons and the poor, hungry, sick and no-where-to-turn citizens, that in the event that the prevailing trend of the nation’s socio-cultural, economic and political affairs continue un-abated – of lies, deceit, dishonesty, thievery, conscious & disobedience of law and the continuing abuse of civil and political liberties of other citizens, the nation could be in for another “town trap” or socio-political violence.

Thus, by their Dissenting Opinion, the Supreme Court Associate Justices argued that the Town Traps set for set for town rats – Coup d’états undertaken against political tyrants, graft, greedy and corrupt executive officials of government – for their misdeeds may also affect, always affected, judges and attorneys in private practice, including innocent, unarmed men, women and children.

Global or Worldwide Historical Phenomena

Coup d’états or political violence is historical, international experience, not a monopoly of Liberia. Scholars – psychologists, social scientists and public administrators – have argued, throughout the ages that political violence is due, mainly, to the failure-application of reason (Schlesinger, 1969). That failure in our country, we argue, must laid at the feet of public policy development, application and sustained maintenance. For examples:

In a speech (Gbala, 1980) in the parlors of the Executive Mansion, as guests of our late President, Dr. William R. Tolbert and Cabinet, we observed, among other critical issues then-prevailing, that:

a) “Finally, the winds of change which engulfed the world and Africa some three decades ago have now turned the spotlight on Liberia. The time for peaceful transition may be rapidly running out. This need not be, for ours is a small country of a closely-knit people; even our tribal units are not as rigidly defined and divided as in other, African countries, nor are our political beliefs conditioned by ethnic/tribal origin”.

“However, the extent to which reason, not emotion; confidence, not mistrust; love, not hatred; unity, not division; and peace, not violence, prevail in our search for solutions to our problems, will depend, to a large degree, on the willingness of our leaders to listen and respond to the voices of the Liberian people – the young, old and unrepresented – crying out in the wilderness, pleading for meaningful and constructive change, for the betterment of us all. Thank you so very much”.

Reacting, some 14 years later on July 23, 2014, to the reported “mob violence” in the iron ore mining towns of Tokadeh and Yekepa, Nimba County, we wrote:

b) “Indeed, as long as the majority of the nation’s population is entrapped and remains in abject poverty, hunger, disease and the lack of information/education; as long as there is rapid population growth with rural-to-urban migration and conspicuous consumption without production; as long as there is no attention paid to rural Liberia, where the overwhelming majority of the population lives and where the nation’s known, natural resources are located, in terms of socio-economic and political development; and as long as the “transformation” or transfer/release of administrative, economic and political power to regional, political/administrative, semi-autonomous sub-division status is denied, while a very few . . . political minority, who control political power and policy-making, lives in palatial mansions, but pays no attention, does little or nothing to assure or resolve the critical problems of the people, the seed of this class of organized, collective mob violence is planted and will, certainly, germinate with collateral damage.”

“This is a sad commentary on the people, country and society founded in response to political tyranny and on the principles of the rule of law, socio-economic justice and equality of treatment in pursuit of happiness, when the people are driven to extra-legal acts to awaken political power holders to acknowledge and to redress justified grievances.”

Banks, Philip A. Z., Reminds the Supreme Court on the 1980 Coup d’état in The Hot Pepper newspaper, Monrovia, July 5, 2016.

Gbala, Sr., Bai M, The Prevailing Socio-Political Conditions in Liberia, unpublished Speech delivered as President of ULAA in the parlors of the Executive Mansion, Monrovia, 1980.

Gbala, Sr., Bai M., Reason, Public Policy & Violence: The Csae of Tokadeh, Nimba County, in The Analyst Liberia, July 23, 2014.

Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M., The Crisis of Confidence, Houghton, Mifflin Company, Boston, MASS, USA, 1969.

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