-Claims Constitutional breaches and subsequently ordered police to immediately remove blockade at National Lotteries Authority’s office
Following Associate Justice Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie’s decision not to allow President George Weah’s nomination of a deputy commissioner and permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, United Kingdom, to take his seat, Wolokolie has again blocked another appointment by President Weah, this time to the National Lotteries Authority (NLA).
Wolokolie, currently serving as Justice presiding in Chambers of the Supreme Court, also ordered the Liberia National Police (LNP) that were deployed at the offices of NLA to replace one Agnes Effiong, the deputy director general of the entity, with Weah’s nomination Neved Kortu, to leave immediately.
In addition to her order, Justice Wolokolie mandated the parties to stay all proceedings and to return to status quo ante pending her conference with them on Tomorrow, July 10, at 3:p.m.
Her action resulted from Madam Effiong’s request for a Writ of Prohibition challenging Weah’s appointment of Kortu to her position as illegal and unconstitutional.
Effiong’s lawyer Stanley S. Kparkillen argued that the appointment of the deputy director general at the NLA was not within the appointing power of President Weah, but rather one that is reserved to the board of directors, “and that the appointment of Neved Kortu to the post of deputy director general was illegal and unconstitutional.”
Under the Act that created the National Lotteries Authority, the board of directors has the power and authority to appoint a deputy director general for operations as the principal deputy to the director general for an initial term of two years. Consistent with the mandate, the chairman of the board of directors of the NLA, Claude J. Katta, pursuant to a resolution of the board upon review of the record appointed Madam Effiong on September 20, 2015, as deputy director general.
By that act, it means that Madam Effiong has the right to the office up to and including September 19, 2018.
However, in June this year, President Weah appointed Neved Kortu to her position, while she still had three months left to the expiration of her tenure. Cllr. Kparkillen alleged that he visited the NLA office and informed the Human Resource there about his preferment by President Weah, as deputy director general.
Later, Kortu went to the office with three pick-ups loaded with police that blocked the entrance to the NLA’s office and demanded access for the purpose of installing him as the new deputy director general.
“The alleged conduct of the police under these circumstances are not only patently pre-judicial to her, but they are tantamount to assuming responsibility for the installation of persons appointed by the President through limitation, use of force and threat of force,” Effiong’s lawyer contended.
He continued, “The action taken by the police is illegal and inimical to our democratic governance and for which it does not have any statutory mandate or support but the one without legal effect.”
Kparkillen argued that the appointing power of the President is expressly limited to positions enumerated under Article 54 and 55 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission — cabinet ministers, deputy and assistant cabinet ministers; ambassadors, ministers, consuls and the Chief Justice and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts; superintendents, other county officials and officials of other political sub-divisions; members of the military from the rank of lieutenant of its equivalent and above and marshals, deputy marshals, and sheriffs.
The President shall appoint and commission Notaries Public and Justices of the Peace, who shall hold office for a term of two years but may be removed by the President for cause. They shall be eligible for appointment.
Cllr. Kparkillen contended further that it is not within the power of the President to appoint any person to the office of deputy director general of the LNA.
Only the board of directors consistent with the act has the power to make that appointment, hence, “the appointment by the president of Kortu to the post of deputy director general was in violation of the constitution and the act promulgated by the legislature,” he argued.
Kparkillen added that the President, consistent with democratic values, must be seen to preserve, protect, defend and faithfully execute the laws of the country, “and not to violate its provisions.”