As the nation witnesses the removal and reshuffling of several high profile government officials, some Liberians, particularly employees of the Justice Ministry, have expressed fear for their safety wondering when the Ministry’s new leadership will be announced,.
Expressing their misgivings, they want to remind President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the four top empty seats in the Justice Ministry, the government department responsible for the enforcement of law and order and the administration of justice in the country.
The four top vacant positions at the Ministry include the Minister, the Deputy Minister for Administration, the Deputy Minister for Qualification and the Assistant Minister for Correction.
According to our investigation, the Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs, Cllr. Benedict Sarnor, is relatively acting in all the positions and running the Ministry in consultation with the Solicitor General, Cllr. Betty Lamin-Blamo.
Some Liberians yesterday told the Daily Observer that the vacancies at the top echelons of the Ministry, if not filled soon, have the propensity to tilt the statutory mandate of that government department.
These concerned citizens are keenly aware that effectual leadership at the helm is required for the Justice Ministry to carry out its chief responsibilities to enforce the law, defend the interests of the country, ensure public safety against foreign and domestic threats and provide unitary leadership in preventing and controlling crime and punishing those guilty of unlawful behavior.
Madam Musuly Morrison and Mr. Jenkins Nah said separately that the absence of the Attorney General and other key officials at the Justice Ministry would undercut the rule of law, jeopardize the maintenance of peace and security, sustainable development, and the protection of human rights.
However, the spokesperson of the Concerned Workers of the Justice Ministry, who is known only as ‘Scarface’, indicated that the prolonged vacancies of the top seats at the Ministry would not only slow down the access to justice but also delay the process of fair play and justice in the country.
It may be recalled that former Justice Minister Christian Tah resigned a month ago.
Earlier, Cllr. Whetonia Dixon-Barnes and Madam Victoria Leigh-Sherman were relieved of their posts as Deputy Ministers for Administration and Qualification, respectively, as well as Assistant Minister for Correction, Hilary Sackor.
Justice Minister Tah, in her resignation letter, said she could not be the Minister of Justice and not supervise the operations of the security agencies under her Ministry.
The letter cited her lack of independence to investigate allegations of fraud against the National Security Agency, which is headed by Mr. Fumba Sirleaf, son of the President.
Minister Tah also said it had become “unbearable” to continue as Minister amid “determination to systemically undermine and gut the portfolio of relevance and effectiveness.”
In a brief statement issued later, the Executive Mansion said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had “received and accepted the resignation” of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General. There is no hint of who the President might be considering to fill these top positions at the Ministry of Justice.