The Liberian National Bar Association has concluded its annual bar convention in Ganta, Nimba County with the election of a new corps of officers to steer the affairs of the body for another three years.
The convention, which was described by some counselors as one of the well attended conventions, brought together about 600 lawyers from across the country.
In his opening statement the outgoing president, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, praised the LNBA membership for their cooperation during his tenure, especially those in the judiciary, including Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia down to the magistrates.
"The strong support of the judiciary for the license mandate of the LNBA has greatly helped my administration in getting rid of quacks who, without any form of legal education, were engaged in the illegal practice of law by professional license fee at the LRA, performing legal services for gullible Liberians in need of legal services," he said.
"These charlatans, who had been parading the corridors of the Temple of Justice, disappeared when we made it mandatory for every lawyer to carry an LNBA issued license," said Cllr. Gongloe.
He noted that the progress of getting rid of fake lawyers would not have been made had judges and magistrates not sustained objections made by licensed lawyers against the appearance in court of such pretenders.
"By [the judiciary] not allowing unlicensed lawyers to practice law, or dismissing cases filed… has greatly strengthened the standard of law practice in Liberia," he added.
Cllr. Gongloe explained that by cooperating with the leadership in enforcing the mandate, they have increased the number of dues-paying lawyers and, at the 2020 LNBA convention, attendance was 412, an unprecedented attendance in the history of LNBA.
For the 2021 convention, Cllr. Gongloe said the record was beaten when the convention recorded about 585 lawyers, the highest number of attendees at any bar association in the history of LNBA.
The convention climaxed with the very competitive election, well debated by the contenders, including fact-checking the personal lives and conduct of he candidates.
The convention was held under the theme: "Corruption a threat to peace and rule of law" nearly all the candidates argued in their debates about the need to strengthen the bar in more accountable way.
Prior to the election, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor called for peace and understanding among the lawyers as they went through the conduct of election.
"We are pace-setters. What we are going to do in this election will tell the nation how the 2023 election is going to be like," Chief Justice Korkpor told the lawyers.
The election was successfully held with four persons contesting for presidency, including Cllr. Sylvester Rennie (former vice), Cllr. Dr. Jallah A. Barbu, Cllr. Abraham Sillah, and Alhaji Sawliho Sesay, while two persons contested for vice presidency including Cllr. Jamal C. Dehtho and Cllr. Bobby F. W. Livingstone.
Four persons contested for the secretary position, including Cllr. Jura A. Lynch, Cllr. Luther N. Yorker, Cllr. Bornor M. Varmah and Atty Lamii Kpargoi, while two persons including B. Rachel Yabah Duobah and Mameta Jabateh Sieleaf contested for the position of Treasurer, while 15 contenders contested for the executive council position, with 10 emerging victorious.
The election began at about 2pm and ended by 6pm, immediately followed by the tallying process, which ended at 3:45am, and the subsequent announcement of the results.
Meanwhile, Cllr. Sylvester Rennie emerged as winner for the presidency with 218 votes, while Cllr. Jamai C. Dehtho the Vice Presidency won with 251 votes over the former secretary Bobby Livingstone.
Cllr. Bornor M. Varmah defeated his contenders with 284 points, while Cllr. B. Rachel Yabah Duibah retained her treasurer position by defeating Atty. Mameta Jabateh with 255 points, respectively.
Those elected on the executive council include, Cllr. Frederick L. M. Gbeanue, Cllr. Sundaiway Nelson Amegashie, Cllr. F. Juah Lawson, Cllr. Jimmy Saah Bombo and Cllr. Emmanuel Tulay.
Others are Atty. Lawrence Tomah, Atty. Emmanuel Tomah, Atty Kunkunyun Wleh Teh and Atty. S. Mohammed Sheriff.