Indeed, we wrote and told the Liberian People – newspaper editors-writers, public policy makers and related agencies of government, attorneys- & counselors-at-law, civil society organizations, opponents of the CBL Amendment (protest demonstrators-marchers) – that the “Amendment is not directed at the prominent citizen of Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, but at Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia and any other Liberian citizens so positioned”.
In response to reports that “Governor Jones should resign or hold his grounds, if . . .” (Analyst Liberia, February 24, 2014), we wrote that the CBL “Amendment Not Directed against CBL, Mills Jones . . .” (Analyst Liberia, February 24, 2014). In the article, we held that:
“The continuing, passionate demonstration of interest and participation in the activities of public officials and public policy debates, for or against, with impact on our nation and people is a new, encouraging phenomenon in public affairs and must be appreciated, encouraged and supported.
On the issue of the CBL amendment, an online, Liberian commentator wrote, indicating disagreement with our lawmakers, that the “problem is the flawed, Liberian political system. It needs a complete over-haul”. Yes, we agreed “that our political system has been, and is, flawed from day one, throughout the history of our nation, such that”:
1. “Members of the National Legislature violate, routinely, the laws (sometimes, they sponsored), debated, passed and enacted by them, with impunity;
2. For examples, Article 30 of the Constitution provides that (only) “Citizens of Liberia . . . are eligible to be members of the Legislature”, but today, almost, a majority of the membership or leading members are citizens of foreign countries, and the recent, disgraceful rejection, ops, confirmation of the Honorable LTA Chair, an alleged illegal, irregularities in which the Ministries of Justice and Finance are allegedly involved;
3. The age-old practice of “cold water”, now a tradition of bribery, originated from “The House”;
4. The Confirmation Hearings, investment contracts/agreements, enactments of laws or amendments thereof, of state-owned enterprises submitted for legislative action are major, lucrative sources of bribery, often termed “lobbying fees” (recall the Urey/NOCAL US $50, 000.00 & $150,000.00 or there about);
5.These activities indicate the revival of “you know who I am”, a claim of nobility and preferential treatment; and now, corruption, no longer “rampant”, but “roaring”.
But, “In the light of the foregoing, members of the Legislature summoned the “guts”, political will, reviewed, debated, amended provisions of the law that created Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and duly passed such amendment. This legislative action was or is not only in fulfillment of that body’s constitutional obligation as provided (Article 29), particularly, given the recent, reported depreciation of the nation’s foreign exchange rate, negative impact on the “terms of trade” and state of the nation’s economy, but also, directed towards the objective of over-hauling the historic flawed, Liberian Political system in a small way, although the lawmakers may have hidden agendas”.
“We repeat, although the men and women of the National Legislature may have hidden agendas or gripes with Dr. Mills Jones, but the amendment, in real terms, was or is not directed against the private person of Dr. Jones, but Dr. Mills Jones as Governor of the nation’s Central Bank or any person so positioned”.
“Dishing out public funds for private, political gain by any public official under cloak of micro-finance or loans to selected, individual, political supporters is not only an unfair practice, but also, illegal, because the Central Bank is not a commercial bank; it is a bankers’ bank with specific responsibilities concerned with national, monetary policy, not making loans. Therefore, it is reasonable that public officials with unlimited access to public funds and related resources be restricted from use of those resources for private, personal gain, political or non-political”.
For the information of our readers, it is necessary that we present a summary of the Constitutional citations referenced in support of the arguments by opponents of the CBL Amendment, with our response of contrary argument:
First, Article 3, on the doctrine of the “Separation of Powers”, says that “Liberia is Unitary, sovereign State divided into counties for (efficient) administrative purposes. The form of government is republican (representative) with three, separate, coordinating branches – the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. Consistent with the (or this) principle of separation of powers . . . no person holding office in one of these branches shall hold office in or exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the other two branches . . . .” With the functions/responsibilities of each and every branch clearly defined with precision by the Constitution – Legislature to makes laws that every citizen in all the branches are obligated to observe and obey; the Executive to enforce or implement all approved policies or laws made by the Legislature; and Judiciary to decide guilt or innocence of all citizens accused of law violation (including members in all branches) and to interpret constitutional validity of all laws passed.
In the case of an amendment, repeal, etc. of laws made by the Legislature (as in the case of the CBL Amendment) the Legislature performs its functions consistent with and in obedience to constitutional provision of Article 29; besides, Article 3 refers to persons, individuals forbidden to perform functions outside of their branch or exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the other two branches. Therefore, there is no violation of Article 3.
Second, Article 11(c), on Fundamental Rights, provides that “All persons are equal before the law and are therefore entitled to equal protection of the law”.
This Article is one of the bills of fundamental Rights guaranteed to all, Liberian citizens, including prominent citizen, Dr. Mills Jones. However, not only that Dr. Jones was not and is not in a court of law charged commission of an offence deemed to be denial of his Rights, but also that RIGHTS are not absolute; enjoyments thereof, are conditional to defined performance in obedience to prescribed law. For example, the right to operate (drive) a motor vehicle is conditional to or requires an operator’s (driver’s) license; one’s very life and liberty (freedom of movement) are conditional to abstention from commission of dangerous crimes, such as murder, etc., obedience to law.
Moreover, given the prevailing condition of the nation’s economy and guarding against abuse of public trust that could lead to or result in massive public dishonesty (corruption), it is reasonable for the National Legislature to review and debate some provisions of the law that created Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), amend and pass such amendment into law. Therefore, the action was not, is not directed at nor a “denial of equal rights before the law”, but applicable to all persons who are similarly positioned as the CBL Governor, Dr. Mills Jones.
Third, Article 18 provides that “All Liberian citizens shall have equal opportunity for work and employment regardless of sex, creed, religion, ethnic background, place of origin or political affiliation, and all shall be entitled to equal pay for equal work”.
However, the passed Amendment is concerned with or in violation of none of the areas indicated. If so, the opponents failed to state.
If opposition to the CBL Amendment/Repeal of the original provisions of the CBL Act is based on the argument that one of such provisions authorized the CBL to engage in making loans (micro-financing), knowing that a central is not organized and positioned, in professional, conventional and legal terms, then the National Legislature was and is within its constitutional power and authority to act, as it did.
Fourth, Article 20 is also a Fundamental bill of Rights guaranteed all Liberians, including Dr. Mills Jones, a bonafide, prominent Liberian. However, not only that Dr. Jones was or is not in a court of law charged with commission of an offence deemed (by him) to be denial of his rights as a Liberian. Therefore, there is no violation of Article 20.
Fifth, Article 21(a) provides, as stated by Mr. Kennedy, that “No person shall be made subject to any law or punishment which was not in effect at time of commission of an offense, nor shall the Legislature enact any bill of attainder or ex post facto law”.
As such, this constitutional provision does not apply, because this law, the CBL amendment, passed in 2014 takes effect in 2018, four years hence, the time of enforcement. Moreover, no one, including Dr. Jones, is in court now, charged under the passed amendment. Therefore, there is no violation of Article 21(a).
Sixth, Article 43 says that “The power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in the House of Representatives, and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the Senate. When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; when the Chief Justice or a judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the President of the Senate shall preside”. There is nothing in Article 43 that restricts impeachment as who should, must be or who should, must not be impeached.
Seventh, Article 56(a) Second is irrelevant and does not apply, because it describes whom (the individuals or officials of government) that the President may appoint and the conditions to be satisfied. The CBL Amendment makes or made no appointments. Therefore, Article 56(a) is irrelevant.
Eighth, Article 77(b) says that “all elections shall be by secret ballot as may be determined by the Elections Commission, and every Liberian citizen not less than 18 years of age, shall have the right to be registered as voter and to vote in elections and referenda under this Constitution. The Legislature shall enact no form or become members of political parties”. Therefore, this article is irrelevant and does not apply.
Ninth, Article 91 provides that “This Constitution may be amended whenever a proposal by either (1) two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature or (2) a petition submitted to the Legislature by not fewer 10,000 citizens which receive the concurrence of two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature”. There is, absolutely, nothing in Article 91 that forbids repeals and/or amendments of provisions of this Constitution by the Legislature, as was done by the Legislature. For your information, the Constitutional Review Commission is engaged the process leading to constitutional amendment. Therefore, there is no violation of Article 91.
Tenth, US Supreme Court Decisions/Law and application of Liberian Law:
Nations, like individuals, are not similarly-endowed with natural abilities/capabilities, nor are they located on the face of the globe in or under like conditions, etc. That is, Nations, like persons or individuals are unlike and unequal in their natural endowments; that they are unequal and dissimilar in their mental and physical abilities; that they are dissimilar in their earthly locations; therefore, their needs and desires for socio-economic well-being, etc. are dissimilar and unequal; and that in the context of nations, the critical issues are that nations are unequal and dissimilar in socio-cultural homogeneity, education, information, politics, economics/technological development, national unity and security (military capability), etc.
Therefore, recognized, sovereign nations enact and enforce domestic laws and pursue socio-economic and political plans and programs designed to promote, protect and defend their peculiar needs and vital interests. It is for this reason, we believe, that nations may not subject suspects to trial in their courts of law for offenses committed NOT within their territorial jurisdiction, because laws made by recognized, sovereign nations are applicable only to the jurisprudence – body of laws, rules of evidence, interpretation, etc. – in the given, sovereign nation.
Now, that the President of the Nation signed the Amendment into law, we deem it appropriate to quote the old adage, “I told you so”. Elsewhere, we wrote and reminded fellow citizens that the nation is fortunate to have the current President who, unlike some of our former presidents, is, relatively, highly-, relevantly-educated, trained and experienced, exposed, on the international stage, to the politics, law and diplomatic conventions on the art of nation-building. In that, the President demonstrated this quality, with courage, by signing the amendment into law; she, also, demonstrated this quality when she confirmed, not long ago, the so-called “gag” on publication of the Corkrum-Johnson alleged, corruption taped recordings, because the case is before the courts. Again, we commend the President for her “guts” and foresight.