The Supreme Court en banc will now have the opportunity to render an opinion, which will settle the issue of presidential tenured appointments in the wake of the controversies attending President Weah’s replacement of tenured officials appointed by his predecessor. This comes after Associate Justice in Chambers, Jamesetta H. Wolokolie, issued the Writ of Prohibition against the President’s appointment of Journalist Moses O. Brown at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and forwarded the case to the full bench of the Supreme Court for Constitutional determination.
Justice Wolokolie also mandated state lawyers to file their response to Mr. Isaac Jackson’s petition seeking to prevent the President’s replacement of him at the IMO before July 23, 2018, something, which set the stage for legal battle before the high court.
This comes a day after the Associate Justice requested the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) to produce its organizational chart as a crucial evidence to determine whether or not to issue the writ of prohibition and as well forward the case to the full bench. Since the establishment of the maritime agency the title of Permanent Representative has been a deputy commissioner post requiring presidential appointment.
President Weah Tuesday, June 19, 2018 relieved Mr. Jackson of his post as Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the IMO and named Mr. Browne as his successor.
Jackson on July 3, 2018 filed a complaint with the court asking it for a writ of prohibition to declare the government’s act of removal against him from the position as Deputy Commissioner, Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization as illegal, non-statutory and unconstitutional.
Part II, section 7(4) of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) Act captioned Tenure of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners, specifically states “Tenure of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner”: the Commissioner of Maritime Authority and the Deputy Commissioners shall have tenure of five (5) years in order to ensure and preserve consistency in the leadership, maintain continuity of purpose, increase the capacity in the industry, and preserve the national and international relevance and very competitive nature of the maritime program.
According to him, the tenure of the commissioner and the deputies shall be renewable for only one additional four year period upon recommendation of the Board to the President for approval. No further renewal shall be permitted beyond nine years.
On the basis of the LMA Act, former President Sirleaf appointed and commissioned Jackson as Permanent Representative to the IMO which position in the organogram of the LMA is Deputy Commissioner Permanent Representative. Jackson was subsequently commissioned on October 28, the same year.
He maintained that he is guided by the precedents of appointments of Honorables Agnes Reeves Taylor (September 28, 1999) and Mohammed Dukuly (April 7, 2004) who served for the period of five years each as Deputy Commissioner and Permanent Representative to the IMO.
Additionally, he said that during his 21 months of occupancy of the position of Deputy Commissioner, Permanent Representative to the IMO, he worked and placed Liberia in a leadership role of the IMO and due to the fact of his considerable achievement, the only reason for his replacement by another appointee is purely on political and not legitimate grounds.
Writes P. Nas Mulbah