-Supreme Court orders MoJ and MFDP
Months after the government, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), placed a freeze (moratorium) on the National Lottery Authority (NLA) from withdrawing money out of the authority’s account, the Supreme Court on Tuesday, October 30, ordered the unconditional lifting of the sanction imposed on the account.
Tuesday’s action confirmed an earlier decision by Chamber Justice Jamesetta Wolokollie, who imposed a temporary stay order on the government and subsequently called on all parties to return to “status quo ante” pending the outcome of the case by the Supreme Court.
The NLA has a mandate to engage in the lottery and other gaming or chance business to generate funds for the Government of Liberia (GoL).
It can be recalled that the MFDP put a freeze on the NLA’s Account when controversy ensued about appointments of a new director general and deputy director for operations by President George Weah.
The president’s appointment of Reginald Nagbe as director general and Neved Kortu as deputy director general for operations to replace Martin S. Kollie and Madam Agnes Effong, was seriously challenged by the incumbents, who later argued that it was in violation of the Act that established the entity.
Kollie and Effong’s arguments were that the position was a tenure post, of which their tenure had not expired when the president made the new appointment, thereby praying the Supreme Court to issue a writ of prohibition against the President’s action.
The director-general’s post carries five years, while the deputy carries two years, of which Effong’s term expired since September of this year.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, who spoke on behalf of the court, reiterated their earlier call for the government to ensure calm return to the NLA before the court can proceed with the determination of the merit and demerit of the president’s appointment.
“The parties are hereby ordered to return to status quo ante, and that all of the issues, including the freezing of the NLA Account, are raised in the Bill of Information filed with the court to be addressed urgently,” the chief justice mandated Solicitor General Cllr. Daku Mulbah.
Cautioning Mulbah, Justice Korkpor said he should inform the public officials to be the respecter of the law and refrain from all illegal activities pending a disposition of the matter.
In support of the chief justice, Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Yuoh referred to the government’s attitude as an “affront to the High Court.”
Shortly after the hearing, some staffs of the authority (names withheld) told journalists at the Temple of Justice that “the entity’s operations have since been greatly stalled, due to the freeze put on our account.”
According to them, as a government revenue generating entity, they have to write the MFDP through its Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Samora Wolokollie, before any operational funds can be disbursed.
“This has been tedious and time-consuming, especially when it comes to addressing urgent operational issues,” the authority’s executive stated.
Neved Kortu, President’s Weah nominee as deputy director-general, has since replaced Effong, because Madam Effong’s tenure has expired.
“After officially taking over as DDG, Kortu, who declared himself as the acting director of the NLA, publicly usurped the functions of DG Kollie by illegally taking key administrative actions, thus making the entity ungovernable,” some of the employees hinted the Daily Observer outside of the Supreme Court