From all indications, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor has reason to smile after Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay of Criminal Court ‘C’ on Friday, April 3, accepted her (Taylor) request to have the former president of the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA), Madam Lusu Sloan, to serve as one of her key witnesses to testify against current LMA president, Madam Alice Yeebahn.
In 2018, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, who has oversight responsibility over the LMA, promised to work with the offices of the Ministers of Justice and of State for Presidential Affairs to resolve the impasse after receiving a petition from aggrieved marketers.
The petitioners requested that the leadership be made to account for over US$89,938.27 and L$98,392,742.37 allegedly misused by their leadership between the period of 2016 to 2018.
Howard-Taylor suspended members of the leadership of Yeebahn, including the association’s Vice President Abraham Barchue, and Assistant Secretary-General Lawuo Hiama. She also appointed an interim body headed by Jerry Jedeh.
According to Section 8 of the amended 2010 Act of the LMA, it is the General Assembly that has the power to impeach or suspend any elected official that maybe investigated and found guilty of corruption.
But members of the suspended leadership said their removal was illegal and took the matter to the Civil Law Court. The judge ruled in favor of the suspended leadership by overturning the decision of the Vice President and mandated the parties to revert to the status quo.
Despite Taylor’s argument of supervisory role as indicated in the budget law, the court had repeatedly said appropriation of subsidy for the LMA under the office of VP Taylor does not in any way confer authority on her to impose sanctions and take judicial decisions as she did by unilaterally suspending the elected officers. Since its inception as a public entity in 2010 by an Act of the Legislature, the LMA has operated under the supervision of the Executive Branch, with budgetary appropriations placed under the office of the Vice President.
With the court’s interpretation of the 2010 Act, VP Taylor had also accused the leadership of financial mismanagement and administrative malpractices, arguing that she was within the confines of the law to order the suspension of the elected officers pending the outcome of the audit by the General Auditing Commission (GAC).
VP Taylor had said that she wants to ensure peace, transparency, and accountability within the LMA, and also to prevent events inimical to national peace and security. However, Justice Kaba warned her of interfering with the LMA.
Madam Yeebahn was elected in 2017, at the Association’s convention in Grand Bassa County, but was ordered suspended by the Vice President Taylor on August 26, 2018, based on a complaint from some aggrieved members.
Madam Lusu Sloan, who is to testify in the case between the leadership of Madam Yeebahn and VP Taylor, was once accused of election irregularity when she chaired the special election commission. Despite complaint that the election had irregularities and was fraudulent, she went ahead to induct Madam Yeebahn and other elected officials in a bid to turn her authority to Yeebahn.
Madam Sloan’s action prompted the aggrieved party by then to seek a stay order from the Civil Law Court pending the outcome of an investigation of allegations of fraud, of which complaint the court denied.
Sloan was also accused of preventing the court from exercising its authority when the court officers were in the process of serving the stay order at the induction ceremony, a claim that she denied.
It is Sloan whose testimony against Yeebahn Taylor has asked for but, the question that lingers is, will Sloan be prepared to testify against her close friend?