The Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice will shortly decide whether members of the disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) are eligible to receive pension benefits under Section 1, Title 23, Chapter 10 of the Liberian Code of Law, 1956, known as the “National Defense Act,” following Wednesday, November 13, final argument in a “Motion to Dismiss,” filed by government.
Given the court’s decision, Judge Boima Kontoe openly said, “After hearing the legal arguments on both sides, ruling in the motion will be announced following an insurance of a notice of assignment.”
The ex-soldiers in their petition for “Declaratory Judgment” argue that 10,600 service men and women were redundant and demobilized, while, 4,200 men and women were retired by government in total disregard of the Pension Act, agreed upon in 2003, in Accra, Ghana, which ended the country’s 14 years of civil war.
Section 22 of the Veteran Pension Act of the AFL, Cllr. Dempster Brown said it states that “all members of the AFL who reach the retirement age, shall be retired with benefits.
He also quoted Section 22.2 (6), saying it states “all retirees, shall receive 12 months benefits in lump-sum, after retirement to facilitate resettlement.”
Cllr. Brown requested the court saying, “we want government to give the demobilized soldiers the total amount of US$35,000; representing 15 months’ pay for each year, since they refused to retire them under the veteran pension act of the AFL.”
He also argued that “widows of deceased servicemen shall receive US$300,000 representing resettlement and benefits.”
They, however, pleaded with the court to declare their benefits.
In a counter argument, the government admitted that there is an Accra Agreement regarding pension of members of the AFL, claiming that the Act is yet to be approved by President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson and printed into hand bill by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
They argue that in the absence of the enactment of that Act government will not give any pension benefits to members of the demobilized AFL.
Shortly after Judge Kontoe’s decision, the ex-soldiers were advised by their spokesman, Col. Richard Boye, to be law abiding and respect any decision from the court.