Justice Minister Quits

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Justice Minister and Attorney General, Cllr. Christiana Tar has resigned her post, alleging that her Ministry, among other things, has been excluded from conducting an independent investigation of allegation of fraud against the National Security Agency (NSA).

She also contended that “the landscape of the Liberian Jurisprudence is being transformed in arbitrary and inscrutable ways that make it onerous to conscientiously find the way out” adding, “I cannot be Justice Minister and not supervise the operation of the security agencies under the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).”

“If the President asserts that she does not trust the Ministry of Justice to independently investigate allegations of fraud against the National Security Agency (NSA), what is the rule of law?” she wondered.

Cllr. Tah made these assertions when she addressed a press conference yesterday at her 9th Street office in Monrovia, returning the Justice Minister post back to the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led administration.

Cllr. Tah went on to say: “Cognizant of the President’s rhetoric of commitment to the rule of law,” and adding “my own painstaking efforts to help re-establish the foundations for justice and venerate defining principles such as the separation of powers in our nascent democracy and most importantly the duty of transparency and accountability that we owe Liberians as public servants, I believe that it is unconscionable for me not to resign with immediate effect.”

 Accordingly, she said she had asked President Sirleaf to accept the reiteration (repetition) of her notice to resign as the Justice Minister.

Cllr. Tah disclosed that she first submitted her letter of resignation to the President on March 31, 2104, but that “for reasons best known to her, the President delayed acknowledgment of my letter and ultimately postponed consideration of my prerogative to resign from her cabinet appointment.”

 “It has become unbearable for me to persevere in name as the dutifully appointed Minister of Justice of the Republic of Liberia, when in reality concrete actions indicate a determination to systematically undermine and gut the portfolio of relevance and effectiveness,” Cllr. Tah said.

She observed that the “landscape of the Liberian Jurisprudence is being transformed in arbitrary and inscrutable ways that make it onerous to conscientiously navigate. “

“Amidst the prevailing interpretation of the doctrine of separation of powers and the ensuing blurring of the rules and roles of engagement, even within the executive arm of government itself, the investments of national and international stakeholders promoting the rule of law is being eroded by actions that contradict the values that underpin the fabric of our society,” she asserted.

It can be recalled that last January, the Supreme Court of Liberia held the Justice Minister in Contempt of Court and barred her from practicing law for six months, rendering her ineffective as Attorney General and Justice Minister after she granted “compassionate leave” to FrontPageAfrica’s Rodney Sieh, in keeping with Section 34.20 read in concert with 34.2(d) of the Criminal Procedure Law, ILCL Revised pursuant to a public hearing on October 21, 2013.

Cllr. Tah further disclosed that  on July 11, 2014, she  formally notified President Sirleaf by letter that she  had completed her six-month suspension imposed by  the Supreme Court on her license to practice law, “And that the Court had ordered that I resume practice,” Cllr. Tah said.

She said President Sirleaf responded immediately, asking her to return to work and indicating that her resignation letter of March 31, 2014 would be discussed at a later date.

 “Out of deference for the Office of the President and in view of the national security crisis posed by the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, I obliged and continued with my schedule of duties, while in utmost good faith awaiting President Sirleaf’s convenience to ratify my longstanding decision to resign,” Cllr. Tah recounted.

She said that while awaiting the follow up discussion with the President about her resignation she was “shocked and dismayed to learn that the Minister of Information, the official spokesperson for the government had issued an eight-page statement which pronounced the parody of justice in the Contempt Proceedings Against Christiana Tah, Minister of Justice and Counselor Beyan D. Howard,” adding “ as a classic example of judicial independence and equality before the law, irrespective of social class.”

She said Minister Browne’s statement failed to acknowledge her pending resignation notice and appeared to be aimed at a preemption and/or retaliation of the prerogative to resign, which she sought to exercise nearly four months earlier.

She said that she was particularly appalled that the Government chose to give its reaction to her matter with the Supreme Court while the nation was at the height of its fight against the Ebola Virus Disease.
When asked by her friends and family why she tabled her decision to step down last March and decided to go back to work, she said she told them: “the answer is simple: Love of country!”

“I believe that as a public servant my oath of office means that I pledge to deepen our collective learning and institutional growth, even if it entails humbling myself at great personal costs,” she stated, adding that “It is the same public spiritedness that informs my world view which underpins the ethical dilemma that has compelled my decision to unequivocally draw the line beyond which I cannot continue to fill the position of the Minister of Justice in name without the substantive support of the Chief Executive.

“This is especially given that my allegiance is first and foremost to our nation. Having relented at retreating at the height of my own personal pain when my hard-earned professional asset was suspended and my credibility called into question, and having deferred to the President when she denied my prerogative to promptly exit her administration, it is with justifiable relief that I inform you that I can no longer continue to struggle to vindicate the portfolio designated for the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Republic of Liberia when it is eviscerated and reduced to a pretext to legitimate and perpetrate arbitrary activities and inscrutable practices under the guise of “the rule of law,” Cllr. Tah declared.

Resignation Accepted

Meanwhile, the Office of the President late last night issued a statement: “President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has received and accepted the resignation of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Christiana Tah.  Cllr. Tah tendered in her resignation as Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Republic of Liberia on Monday, October 6, 2014 at a meeting with the Liberian President at her Foreign Ministry office earlier today.”

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