What is Law? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, Law is a rule, usually made by a government, that is used to order the way in which a society behaves.
This means that any decision made by leaders outside of the law evokes criticism, and as the criticism grows, the more an individual’s job or administration is likely to be undermined.
The act of decision making outside of the law was evidenced recently when President George Weah appointed defeated Montserrado County District 11 lawmaker, Gabriel Nyenkan as head of Secretariat of the Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI).
The LEITI Act of 2009 requires that the President appoints members of the Multi Stakeholders Group (MSG), which shall designate one of its members as chairperson and another as co-chairperson.
The Act further indicates that “The power to recruit the Head of Secretariat, Deputy and other staff members of the LEITI Secretariat therefore lies with the MSG, which should comprise members of the National Legislature, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the Executive,” Section 6.3d of LEITI Act of 2009.
It is yet unknown if the President has appointed members of the Multi Stakeholders Group as required in the LEITI Act; However, he did appoint Gabriel Nyenkan as head of that body.
But his appointee lost no time in portraying himself as a reckless, arrogant and self-seeking individual-a former lawmaker unforgivably ignorant of the very Act establishing the LEITI which he and others voted to pass into law.
Contrary to the law governing the LEITI, the President has created a situation that is drawing the ire of even outsiders who may have a stake in the governance of LEITI.
One international body that has condemned the President’s action removing LEITI’s head of Secretariat is the international transparency watchdog, Global Witness.
Global Witness termed as illegal the removal of Konah Karmo outside of the law that created the anti-graft institution that gives updates about activities in the extractive industry sector.
Our Executive Mansion Reporter, William Harmon also reported on March 16 that some civil society organizations are unnerved by the President’s action appointing a head of LEITI’s Secretariat in total disregard for the law.
One of them, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), is quoted in the report as having said, “The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia is disturbed by the action of President George M. Weah to appoint the Head of Secretariat of LEITI in violation of the Act creating the integrity institution.”
CENTAL further noted that President Weah overstepped limits of his authority by ascribing onto himself powers that are not assigned to him, thereby making his decision and actions questionable.
CENTAL also questioned the actions of defeated lawmaker, Gabriel Nyenkan sending armed police officers to evict Karmo from the LEITI office and seize the vehicle he uses.
Instead of following the law by praying the Supreme Court for a Writ of Quo Warranto to seek Karmo’s removal from office, Nyenkan, in an arrogant display of power, brought in armed Police officers to give teeth to his demands, or else!
We recall that President Weah, when taking the oath of office during his inauguration on January 22, 2018, vowed to defend the Constitution on which all other laws are based.
Also while delivering his state of the nation address; he virtually opened a class on the Constitution reading virtually in whole, the first portion of the Constitution that contains Principles of National Policy.
Perhaps this may have been his chosen way of reminding Liberians that under his administration, respect for the rule of law will be a hallmark trait of his commitment to respect, uphold and promote freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.
And lest we forget, President Weah also used the occasion to urge others, particularly his officials, to follow his example and do the same.
While pressure may be mounting on the President to satisfy his supporters as indicated by appointments he has made thus far, we urge that he respects the law and refrain from using power given to him by the people to oppress and or persecute them.
Anything short of the law has the propensity to not only undermine his (Weah’s) administration and all the gains thus achieved in strengthening our nascent democracy but to also alienate our development partners as well.