The Liberian Senate, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who in the first place sent the Code of Conduct to them, the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Supreme Court of Liberia, the majority three of whom rendered the Code “constitutional”—these are they who went against common sense and tried to ram the so-called Code of Conduct down Liberians’ throats.
As this newspaper, the Daily Observer, and several other thinking Liberians tried in vain to warn them and everyone else that this bad law was “unconstitutional,” the chickens have come home to roost. Now the very people the Code was up against, and most particularly the one person targeted, former Central Bank Governor J. Mills Jones, have all now been cleared and are suddenly no longer barred from contesting the forthcoming elections.
What happened to them all—those resolute backers of this infamous non-law?
It was not only we at this newspaper, who were not backed by legalism, since we are not lawyers, but many lawyers, including two eminent ones, Counselors Tiawan Gongloe and Frances Johnson Allison, who steadfastly argued against the implementation and enforcement of the Code. We at the newspaper were governed by our limited knowledge of the Constitution of the Republic, which bars no one from running for public office except that person is a convicted criminal. We were also governed by common sense.
In the case of the lawyers, Counselor Allison is the most experienced, for she has served not only as chairman of the very National Elections Commission (NEC) and Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Republic, but also as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia. This highly intelligent and experienced woman wrote a legally sound and lucid piece on the Code of Conduct, which we published in our April 3, 2017 edition. In that article, she argued eruditely and forcefully against the so-called Code of Conduct, which she declared to be patently unconstitutional.
Counselor Gongloe and others went to court, but were baffled by the very courts, through legalism and delays, and they got nowhere.
Alas! Thanks to the good Lord Himself and common sense, which the American pro-Independence philosopher Thomas Penn described as “a sense that is not common,” reason has prevailed!
What is surprising is that there were many others, like Harrison Karnwea and Jeremiah Sulunteh, who had to struggle through the ups and downs and uncertainties in the courts, and were finally cleared.
But most surprising of all in “this strange, eventful” debacle is the main target of the Code of Conduct—Dr. J. Mills Jones. Yes, the former CBL Executive Governor was the prime target of the entire COC exercise. The Daily Observer was present in the office of Vice President Joseph N. Boakai few years ago when a most senior member of the Liberian Senate came to complain about the possibly of the CBL Governor running for President. This powerful Senator was concerned that Dr. Jones, whose financial inclusion policy was being hailed throughout the country for lifting a lot of people out of poverty, and was clear in the mind of this Senator, had to be stopped, otherwise that might lead the Governor to pursue the presidency. And that, as it turned out, was the whole point of the Senate’s overwhelming passage of the Code of Conduct.
Alas! The Daily Observer’s front page lead story yesterday surprisingly indicated that the very National Elections Commission had itself cleared Dr. Mills Jones without contest and without a scratch! Just as this newspaper had indicated months ago, that this so-called “law” would not hold because it was unsustainable and could lead to electoral chaos and confusion, the National Elections Commission read its own writing on the wall. It had cleared too many people, including Messrs. Karnwea and Sulunteh, who had not “resigned” in the three-years before the election as stipulated in the Code of Conduct. Having, therefore, cleared all these people, NEC, or anyone else, the Liberian Senate and the Supreme Court included, had nothing to say to Dr. Mills Jones. So they quietly and without contest or quarrel cleared him to run.
And where does this leave the so-called Ombudsman? With absolutely nothing to do, and consequently redundant.