… Former VP Boakai reflects in 76th birthday remarks
By David Yates and Joaquin M. Sendolo
Former Vice President of Liberia and standard-bearer of the Unity Party, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, has pinpointed several governance missteps on the part of the ruling administration which, he says, are detrimental to the Liberian society and gradually dragging the country into economic shambles and instability.
Among several issues highlighted, VP Boakai indicated on Monday, November 30, 2020 that the George Weah administration instituted a ‘bogus impeachment’ proceeding to remove Associate Justice Cllr. Kabinah Ja’neh from the Supreme Court Bench because of his unwavering commitment to the law.
That action, according to him, has now become an embarrassment for Liberia and also earned the country the unequivocal scolding by the ECOWAS Court.
Since the removal of Ja’neh from the Supreme Court Bench, many people including institutions such as the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) have condemned the impeachment. In recent times the ECOWAS Court of Justice where Ja’neh and his legal team went to seek redress ruled in his favor and asked the Government of Liberia to pay Ja’neh US$200,000 for reparations and reinstate him, or pay him US$25 million if he cannot be reinstated. The Government of Liberia through the Solicitor General, Syrenius Cephas, has attributed tht impeachment to political reason and declared that ECOWAS Court cannot tell what Liberia should do in Ja’neh’s case because that does not fall under the court’s jurisdiction. ECOWAS Court in return has threatened Liberia with sanctions if the government fails to comply.
Amb. Boakai said that President Weah has also endeavored to turn the Liberian National Police into a partisan unit to be used against perceived enemies, even though the LNP was trained as a professional force by UNMIL financed by donors’ money as part of the security sector reform; allegations are rift that the CDC is in the business of training private militias and assassins to target opposition figures and intimidate opponents.
Reacting to this, Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie said “Our Police remains a professionally trained force and is performing its national security duties in keeping with its statutory mandate.”
The Unity Party standard-bearer made these remarks on Monday, November 30, 2020, at an occasion marking his 76th birth anniversary, which was observed by his family, friends, partisans as well as many wishers, when he spoke on several national issues ranging from Governance and the rule of law, the mid-term senatorial elections and the national referendum.
Amb. Boakai claimed that there has been a spree of mysterious killings and disappearances, most of which the police have yet to investigate or submit credible reports that the citizens are now living in fear and insecurity.
“Mr. Weah has sought to undermine integrity institutions that we painstakingly set up to fight corruption; he has filled these institutions with cronies to render them ineffective,” said Ambassador Boakai.
In a stern reaction, Information Minister Rennie described the Former Vice President’s comment as “Sheer insincerity.” “We categorically reject his claims that anti-graft institutions are bing filled with cronies of the President and not performing their statutory functions well. to the contrary, these institutions have qualified professionals working and executing their respective mandates. Lest I remind the Former VP that Liberia has just scored high marks in the fight against corruption as recently released by Millennium Challenge Compact Program for Liberia,” said government’s spokesman Rennie.
On the issue of Governance and the Rule of Law, the former Vice President observed that Liberia began to suffer rapid setback by poor Governance and an assault on the Constitution immediately after President Weah and the CDC came to power in 2018.
He further noted that President Weah and his officials refused to declare their assets in keeping with the law after taking office.
Amb. Boakai said, “Mr. Weah himself only did so surreptitiously under threat of protest by the university students to disrupt the July 26 celebrations that year and rumors began to circulate widely that he and his officials were allegedly using the public resource to amass private wealth.
“Up to date, the Liberian people still do not know the veracity of Mr. Weah’s asset declaration or how many of his officials have declared their assets.”
Moving forward, the Unity Party standard-bearer also indicated that President Weah has also failed so far to give a proper account of the missing L$16 billion (US$104 million) and the US$25 million allocated to mop up excess Liberian Dollars on the market, which prompted massive protests in July 2019 and January 2020, respectively.
Concerning the US$25 million and the L$16 billion, Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie said in a WhatsApp message to the Daily Observer that “The Former VP should be above the fray. He knows the truth about the issues he is raising. Was the L$16-billion and US$25 million saga not adequately investigated with international involvement and a logical conclusion reached? The truth is bold… How dare he blame this government when that matter was the making of the very administration he served as VP?”
Also on the mid-term senatorial elections, VP Boakai said the foundation for any credible, transparent, and accountable elections should focus on the cleaning of the voter’s roll.
He added, “We went to court over this very issue during the 2017 elections for which the Supreme Court enjoined the National Elections Commission to institute appropriate remedial action to clean up. As we approach the December 8 mid-term senatorial elections, political parties have not been informed about the status of the voters roll, a matter of compelling necessity.”
He also used the occasion to call on all political parties, the churches, civil society organizations, professional groups, and the Liberian people to join in demanding and ensuring that the voters roll is cleaned before the elections.
Amb. Boakai, however, informed his partisans that as the standard-bearer of the Unity Party, they do not support the government decision to collapse the eight proposed amendments to the constitution adopted by the Legislature into three proposals, noting that, “We do not support the holding of the referendum during the mid-term senatorial elections, especially because no massive awareness campaigns have been undertaken by the government or the NEC to educate the citizens about the ramifications of these amendments to our constitution.”
He said, “Our hard-earned peace remains fragile because today the Weah-led Government seems to place the responsibility of maintaining and sustaining peace on the citizens, especially the opposition, rather than on itself. The government seems to forget that its activities and inactions also threaten the peace.
“Our leaders fail to understand that there can be no sustained peace, economic growth, and social development if it is not grounded on adhering to our constitution, respecting the rights of citizens, supporting an independent judiciary, providing security, and fostering the rule of law.”
Amb. Boakai also believes that the next three years under this government will show any improvement and that things will only get worse for the state of the nation in general.
Minister Rennie in a general context reacted to the Former Vice President’s speech that “It is not only laughable, but pathetic to say the least when an eminent statesman like the former VP willfully chooses to engage in skewing the truth about these issues just for the sake of policking.”