Kettekumeh Murray, Bar Association pay tribute to fallen lawyer
Former Montserrado County Electoral District #9 Representative, Dr. Kettekumeh Murray, recently paid his last respects to the fallen warrior of justice, Cllr. Francis Yarkpawolo Garlawolu, calling him “extraordinary” in his fight for justice on behalf of his clients, including the government.
Laid to rest on Saturday, May 26, 2018, in his hometown of Feh-yaweh Ta, Tongbayah clan, Bong County, Cllr. Garlawolu was a former Senator who stood firm in his quest to see justice across the country.
“Sufficient words are not available now; neither will they be found in the future to express the magnitude of chief Garlawolu’s immense contribution to society. He surpassed, I am of the belief, the expectations of his admirers and opponents alike,” Dr. Murray said.
He recalled that Garlawolu, who suffered from a protracted illness, was neither an ordinary lawyer nor a careless statesman. “He did not care about the consequences that could arise from his defiant posture in pushing for the right things to happen,” he noted. “Na-Gbah (as Garlwolu was affectionately called) was truly a respected statesman of his own kind.”
Dr. Murray admonished the bereaved family to take solace in the counsels of God as it is within His power for all things to happen as they do.
Hundreds of people, including Justice Minister Musa Dean and colleagues, trooped to the grounds where the remains of the veteran legal practitioner were laid to rest and paid their respects to the fallen giant.
It may be recalled that Cllr. Garlawolu on July 21, 2004, won a groundbreaking decision against the Government of Liberia in a Declaratory Judgment at the Montserrado County’s 6th Circuit Judicial Court mandating the Liberian government to ensure the repatriation to Liberia of Dr. Malachi Z. York, who is presently sentenced to 135 years in the United States, on counts of racketeering, money laundering and transporting minors in interstate commerce for purposes of engaging in unlawful sexual activities.
The court’s groundbreaking decision for Liberia to seek the release and repatriation of Dr. York was led by Judge Yussuf D. Kaba (now representing Liberia at the ECOWAS Court), who stated that it is the responsibility of the Republic of Liberia to protect her citizens.
Dr. York took on Liberian citizenship in 1999 and later became the country’s Consul General in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, through an appointment by then President Charles Ghankay Taylor.
It was on June 4, 2004, that Cllr. Garlawolu began the process of requesting the Liberian government’s intervention in Dr. York’s case by writing a letter to the then acting Foreign Affairs Minister, Thomas Yaya Nimely, former rebel leader of the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, or MODEL.
Cllr. Garlawolu became a practicing lawyer at the Supreme Court Bar of Liberia in 1983. In recognition of his long and distinguished public service and contribution to the legal practice and the people of Liberia, he was awarded a certificate of honor by the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) in 2016. He also received an award from the International Criminal Law Network in association with the International Criminal Defense Association.
Cllr. Garlawolu also served as captain of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) before assuming the post of deputy defense counsel of the People’s Redemption Council during President Samuel K. Doe’s regime.
He served as the President of the Bong County Bar Association and is the author of a book called “The Abandoned Child.”