After losing an appeal in the Civil Law Court to declare their rights to receive pension benefits under existing Acts, soldiers of the disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) on Monday, November 19, threatened to destabilize the entire county, if the decision is not reversed by the government.
“We will not make an appeal against the court’s ruling, but we are telling this government, that if they do not want any trouble, they should give us our benefits within 15 days or we are going to destabilize the entire country with protest,” Col. Richard Boye, spokesperson of the group, declared minutes after the court denied their petition for “Declaratory Judgment.”
They were seeking the Court’s intervention to declare their legitimacy to claim pension benefits for over 15,000 ex-soldiers and widows under Section 1, Title 23, Chapter 10 of the Liberian Code of Law, 1956, known as the “National Defense Act,” for pension and procedures.
They further argued that the Defense Act was signed in 2004 by then Chairman of the National Transitional Government, Charles Gyude Bryant.
The soldiers alleged that the Acts were passed by both members of the Interim National Assembly, comprising the Senate and House of Representatives, and printed into hand bills by the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Presiding Judge Boima Kontoe in the Court’s ruling declared that the Defense Acts, which the soldiers were claiming rights do not exist, meaning that they have not been printed into hand bills, neither signed by Chairman Bryant.
“The instrument has never been printed into handbill or signed by government, therefore, this court will not rely on non-existent legislation to declare anybody or any groups’ rights,” Judge Kontoe openly insisted.
On the issue of benefits for widows, Judge Kontoe explained “those claiming for benefits for their husbands lack the legal ramification to do so, because, they fail to present letter of administration, authorizing them to administer the intestates of their late husbands.”
“Therefore, the petition for declaratory judgment is hereby denied and the motion to dismiss filed by government is hereby sustained,” the Civil Law Court Judge further ruled.
Col. Boye continued his threat by saying, “We are trained soldiers and we will put up stiff resistance by protesting around the country.”
Encouraging his colleagues to join the campaign, the disbanded soldiers’ spokesman stressed, “If you still have your zeakays (war juju, voodoos) get them prepared, because we are ready to get our benefits by force.”
“Since this court cannot help us, we will do it ourselves. This case has been so long and you can see the result for yourselves.”