Retired Justice Johnson Sues Gov’t over Pensions, Other Benefits

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Retired Associate Justice Gladys Johnson

-Soon to be retired Justice Philip Banks may join lawsuit

Her Honor Gladys K. Johnson, retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court has sued the Executive Branch of the Government, by and through the ministries of Justice and the Finance and Development Planning as well as the Legislative Branch, by and through the Speaker of the House of Representatives for refusing to pay her legal and factual pensions and benefits from August 2016, up to and including the filing date of this Petition of Writ of Mandamus.

Mandamus is a “Special proceeding to obtain a writ requiring the respondents to perform an official duty.”

In the Justice Johnson’s petition which was read under miscellaneous on Tuesday, June 12 in the House’s Chamber, Johnson prayed the Supreme Court to “compel and order the respondents to pay and cause to be paid overdue and unpaid retirement pensions and benefits to the petitioner and similarly situated retired members of the Judiciary Branch of the Liberian government and to provide appropriations in the 2018/2019 National Budget for pensions and other benefits for petitioner and similarly situated retired and to be retired members of the Judiciary.”

House Chairman on Judiciary Rep. Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa

The Writ of Mandamus was voted upon and turned over to the House’s Chairman on Judiciary, chaired by Representative J. Fonati Koffa of Grand Kru County District #2.

According to the Writ, the respondents (ministries of Justice and the Finance and Development Planning as well as the Legislative Branch, by and through the Speaker of the House of Representatives), are expected to appear before Her Honor Jamesetta Wolokolie, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, on Friday, June 22, at 9:a.m. to show cause why the Justice Johnson’s petition as prayed for should not be granted.

In her argument, Justice Johnson said the Chief Justice and Associate Justices should have received pensions and benefits for legal and factual reasons, according to Article 72(b) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.

“The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record shall be retired at the age of 70…”

Johnson said pursuant to the provision of the constitution, in March 2011, having served in various capacities within the Judiciary (first as Monthly and Probate Court Judge for Montserrado County and later as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court), and having reached the age of 75, while serving as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court honorable retired from active employment with the Liberian government.

Besides the Constitutional reliance, the Petitioner, also said in 2003, the Legislature, one of the Respondent here, enacted a law entitled “An Act to Amend and Providing for Retirement Pension of the President, and Vice President of Liberia, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Members of the Legislature, the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia.”

According to retired Justice Johnson, the law was approved by the President of Liberia on October 8, 2003, and thereafter published in handbills.

She further said Section 3(2) of the Retirement Pension Law for Senior Government Officials provide in part that: “A former Associate Justice who has honorably retired to private life and she is not in any way gainfully employed by government shall receive a pension equal to fifty percent (50%) of the salary of the incumbent Associate Justice. In addition, a former Associate Justice shall be provided a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of his/her natural life. The allowance for this purpose shall not be less than US$6,000 per annum.

Meanwhile, she said from the time of her honorable retirement from the Supreme Court as an Associate Justice in March 2011 to her re-employment in government as a member of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission in April 2012, she was never paid a retirement pension and other benefits as mandated by Section 3(2) of the Retirement Pension Law for senior government officials.

However, in her argument, retired Justice Johnson concedes that upon her re-employment with the Liberian Government as a member of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, her legal entitlement to retirement pensions and benefits were suspended pursuant to the final paragraph of Section 3(2) of the Retirement Pension Law for Senior Government Officials, which provides in part that: “Upon being re-gainfully employed by Government, annuity (pension) granted to the former Associate Justice shall be suspended….”

Accordingly, legal suspension of pensions and other benefits for petitioner continue throughout her transfer to the Independent National Human Rights Commission as its Chairman and her service in this latter position and returned to private life, with no other employment with the Liberian Government since August 2016; Respondents have failed and refused to comply, which means indebted and obligated to the Petitioner for retirement pensions and benefits from August 2016 up to and including the filing date of this Petition.

Moreover, with the pending retirement of Associate Justice Philip Banks, which is expected to be held today, Monday, June 18, there is a probable cause, he might join the lawsuit  demanding retirement pensions.

Author

  • I am a Liberian journalist, born November 7 and hailed from the Southeast and of the kru tribe. I began contributing to the Daily Observer 2008 and was fully employed in 2012. I am the 3rd of eight children and named after my great grandfather. Am happily married with three children (girls). I am a full member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and also the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) and the Legislative Press Pool (LEGISPOL). I can be contacted through email: [email protected] or cell number/WhatsApp: (+231) 0886585875 or Facebook.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if employees in Liberia, whether privately employed or employed by the government contribute any portion of their earning to their retirement as it is done in the western world. I’m just asking.

    • Nyah! I think I know where you’re coming from. The key issue here is that government and private companies (based on their own initiative) in collaboration with insurance agencies should make provision for the pension of the employee. Every month , for example a certain amount could be deducted by a private company to be saved in the employees pension account. In addition an as should be the norm, a certain portion of the tax paid by an employee (working for government or private entity) should go towards the employee pension fund. Such is non existant in here in Liberia, mostly only government employees get government pension. This is a very unfair practice, as an employee from a private entity has equally contributed towards funds the government use for it’s employees’ pension. High ranking/important government officials get huge pension benefits. It will take us years to get there.

    • NASSCORP receives monies deducted from the salaries of all Liberians employed by ministries and agencies if Government. However negligible the sum, this is a contract between NASSCORP (Government’s administrative entity) and the employees. Upon retirement, these employees are rightfully entitled to their pension. The National Social Security Act, although poorly administered by previous administrations) dates back to pre-war.

  2. Retirement from government at the age of 75 in 2011. And then re-employment at the age of 76 in 2012 with the very government; as if there are no other competent Liberian nationals to serve where this retired 76 years old was employed. What a corrupt and insane way of running a government or country.

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