Apex Court Revokes Boakai’s Appointments -Cites ‘procedural errors’ Except for Single Case

By Melvin Jackson and Stephen Fellajuah

MONROVIA: President Joseph Boakai has been ordered by the Supreme Court to revoke the nominations of officials in government to several tenured positions that had had made while the High Court acquiesced that the removal of Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh as Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to our judicial correspondents the decisions on the statuses of officials of the National Identification Registry, Liberia Telecommunication Authority, Liberia National Lottery Authority and the Governance Commission were made on Wednesday April 24, 2024, when the full bench of the Supreme Court affirmed Justice Yussif Kaba alternative writ of prohibition in favor of the petitioners.

Atty. Garrison Yealue, Chairman of the Governance commission, Andrew Peters, Executive Director of the National Identification Registry, Edwina Zackpah, Israel Akinsanya, James Titus and Osborn Diggs, commissioners and chairperson of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority asked the Supreme Court in various petitions to prevent what they considered a breach of their right to tenure.

Others include Reginald Nagbe, Director General of the Liberia National Lottery Authority who petitioned the Supreme Court for alternative writ of prohibition on grounds that they are serving tenure positions but such were occupied with new appointments by president Boakai.

The court added that article 89 of the constitution that gives the legislature the authority to create autonomous agencies does not contravene article 56 of the constitution.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court maintained that attempts by President Joseph Boakai to nominate persons to replace the petitioners when their tenures had expired is tantamount to their removal from office.

The court revealed that the state could not show any existence of any of the conditions for which the petitioners should be removed from office as stipulated in the act creating the different entities.

Meanwhile, the court said that their removal from office prior to the expiry of their tenures without due process is ultra vires.

The cases were also lost based on what the Apex Court called “procedure errors” on the part of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai in nominating individuals to these positions, according to a Supreme Court’s Wednesday ruling.

“That there being no showing of the existence of any of the conditions for the petitioners’ removal from office as stipulated in the Acts creating the respective entities to which the petitioners are appointed, their said removal from office prior to the expiry of their tenure without due process is ultra-virus,” the verdict read.

In its much-anticipated ruling, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 24, revoked President Joseph Boakai’s nomination of several individuals to tenure positions.

The Court ruled that the action by President Boakai is not in line with the law and those occupying the four positions in question were never accorded due process.

The court said the petitioners’ rights were violated, noting that tenure should be respected while unexpired.

Using Articles 56 and 89 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia as its reliance, the Supreme Court opined that nominating persons to the petitioners’ positions while their tenures are still in force and unexpired is tantamount to their removal from office.

“The nomination giving rise to these petitions are hereby ordered revoked,” the court opinion further maintained.

Before the court’s ruling, the government and the heads of the five agencies had been in a legal feud over the legitimacy of the tenure positions.

The four victorious petitioners, who filed separate cases at the Supreme Court against President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s decision to appoint individuals to various agencies, argued that it was a violation of their rights and the Acts that established these institutions.

The petitioners, in their separate arguments, noted that the action by President Boakai is tantamount to causing injury to them for which the Supreme Court should place a prohibition on the President’s decision and grant them the rights to occupy these positions in consonance with the Acts establishing them.

However, government lawyers on the other hand during the separate arguments informed the court that the issues raised by the petitioners were premature since the President nominated people to these positions which had to be approved by the Senate.

Meanwhile, outside of the four cases lost by the government, the Apex Court however quashed the prohibition case filed by Mr. Wilson K. Tarpeh who had also challenged his removal as Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Tarpeh, in his petition before the high court, alleged that he was wrongfully removed by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and replaced by Dr. Emmanuel Urey Yarkpawolo, something that led him to seek the Supreme Court’s opinion.

He argued that he had a tenured position at the EPA, as such he should not be removed by the President until his tenure elapses.

But the Supreme Court’s opinion denied the writ of prohibition prayed for by Tarpeh on grounds that there are a set of procedures that make one to become Executive Director of the EPA.

Section 16 of the Act that established the EPA noted that: “There shall be an Executive Director who is a person with wide environmental knowledge and recognized comment to sustainable management of the environment, appointed by the President from a list of three names recommended by the Council, except that the President may appoint an interim Executive Director pending the formation of the Council”.

The section further revealed that: “The Executive Director shall serve for a period of 7 years and shall be eligible for re-appointment, except that there shall be appointed an interim Executive Director. The Executive Director shall have security of tenure but shall cease to hold office if he/she resigns; is found guilty of gross misconduct on the advice of the Board and the approval of the Policy Council; is unable to discharge the functions of his office for health reasons”.

Dr. Emmanuel Urey Yarkpawolo in the wisdom of the court, was appointed as Interim Executive Director pending the formation of the Policy Council as provided for by the Act that established the EPA.

“When this case was called for hearing, Counsellor Thompson Jargba appeared for the petitioner. Counselor Oswald Tweh, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia, and Counsellor J. Aldophus Kamuah, II, Director of Civil Litigation, Ministry of Justice, appeared for the Executive Branch of Government. Counsellors Tiawan Saye Gongloe and Lamii Kpargoi, appeared for the co-respondent, Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo.

The Court’s opinion read: “Having reviewed the records, heard the agreements and contentions advanced of the respective parties, and considered the facts and laws relied thereupon, it is hereby adjudged

that the EPA Act, Part III-Organization and Administration of the Agency, Section 16. 1 requires that the Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be appointed by the president from a list of three names recommended by the council with a tenure of seven (7) years; and that the president may appoint an interim Executive Director pending the formation of the Council, the appointment of the petitioner by former President Weah was an interim appointment for which tenure is inapplicable;

“That, also, the petitioner having failed to establish documentary proof that he was chosen from among a list of three (3) persons recommended by the Policy Council to the former president, and to make mention of his selection process in his petition regarding the existence of submission of said list to include his name, he is not entitled to tenure under the EPA Act;

“That it is being established that the petitioner served in an Interim Executive Director capacity at the EPA, his removal was in consonance with the Executive Order 123, signed by former President George M. Weah, Sr., on November 22, 2023, in which he stated that all non-tenured presidential appointees shall be presumed to have resigned as of the date of the inauguration of the incoming President, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr.; and

“That a writ of prohibition will not be granted by the court where, as in the instant case, the respondent, the Executive Branch of Government, did not proceed wrongly by appointing Dr. Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo as Interim Executive Director of the EPA in the absence of the Policy Council.

“Wherefore, and in view of the foregoing, the alternative writ of prohibition issued by the justice in Chambers is hereby quashed, and the peremptory writ prayed for denied. The Clerk of this court is mandated to inform the parties accordingly.”

Meanwhile, the EPA’s Interim Executive Director, Dr. Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo, has resumed work at the EPA where he was cheered by jubilant supporters of the agency as a way of welcoming him back at the entity.

8 Comments
  1. Jake Doe says

    WHAT A DISGRACE!!! A BUTTERFLY WHO RECKLESSLY THOUGHT HE WERE A BIRD!!! “40 YEARS EXPERIENCE, 40 YEARS EXPERIENCE”

    And you go about making appointments as some cursed drunk running mad! Rean below what his silly Justice Minister had to tell the Court:

    “The Executive’s action was only at the nomination stage and only created a SCARE to the petitioners, that they suffered no harm, injury or embarrassment as they are still performing the duties and responsibilities associated with their respective offices and enjoying all of the benefits associated with the said offices; and that the petitions are based on future events which may not happen, meaning that the petitions were prematurely filed.” SCARE TACTIC? MR. CHARGE AND BILL LAWYER AND NOW MINISTER OF INJUSTICE???

    READ INFRA THE RESPONSE FROM THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE YUOH:

    “This is preposterous,” Justice Yuoh exclaimed.

    “Firstly, Yuoh said, the petitioners are still in their respective positions only because of a stay order imposed by the Justice in Chambers and not by any magnanimous gestures by the Executive.”

    “Yuoh wondered why the Executive would proceed to nominate individuals to positions that are not available only to create a SCARE to the individuals already occupying the said positions when there are provisions of the law that set forth procedures for the removal from office of officials of government as the petitioners.”

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