Boakai Defying Supreme Court? -Continues to remove tenured officials

MONROVIA: It seems to be that President Joseph Nyuma Boakai is adamant to go all out on his quest to remove all government officials serving on tenured position even with the advice from the Supreme Court on February 26, 2024 urging the President to place hold on all actions until the litigation brought against the government by 5 commissioners at the Liberia Telecommunications Authority challenging their removal and other matters relating to tenured positions are settled.

Just as the apex court’s decision to halt further appointment from President Boakai could be effected, the President in less than 24 hours removed Demitt vonBallmoos, the Director General of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) whose tenured position was renewed in 2022 by former President George Manneh Weah for another 4 years.

The President did not waste time to appoint Cllr. Moifee Kanneh as the Officer In Charge until a substantive Director General is found. Kanneh, meanwhile is currently a board member of the Liberia Petroleum Refining CompanyLPRC) having been appointed the President recently during the reconstitution process of a new board.

Kanneh, a trained lawyer who has been fronting for some of the legal matters of the opposition bloc for some time during the Weah era is a brother to Senator Gbotoe Kannah of Gbarpolu County.

According to some impeccable sources closed to the Presidency who chose not to be named in the papers, the President was misled with a story that vonBallmoos has been serious sick in the United States and may not survive the ailment and so the president needs to act faster to avoid a vacuum that will be created if VonBallmoos did not survive.

The source said VonBallmoos immediately got in contact with top officials close to the President and told them that contrary to the assertion that he was ill, he was actually vacationing and will be returning to Liberia by this weekend. Being confused by the story, our source said Boakai just told his aides that they should inform vonBallmoos that his decision remains whether vonBallmoss was sick or not.

“Apparently it was a face saving move by the President because he wanted to show to the people that the decision to remove vonBallmoos was correct and that no one influenced him to make the decision.

“But then the President knew deep down his heart that he made an error not to contact vonBallmoos directly to find out for himself. Besides that he was also reminded of the Supreme Court advice that he should stop appointing people to tenured positions”, our source said.

It is not yet clear how vonBallmoos seeks to get himself back on the job or vacate the removal just like others at LTA and others are pursuing their case.

What had earlier sneaked out as a mere rumor that the President had perfected moves to evict those whose terms were not affected by the transitional act of losing their positions because they had set terms as per the law and which relates to their various positions, soon became open to the public as the President became to announce nominations to those positions that were tenured.

It was believed that the President came under severe pressure to forcibly remove those affected without any contemplation for compensation as required by law when it became clear that the demand for jobs to satisfy his supporters could not be met with the only ones available to him, thus he was said to have succumbed and “knowingly appointed people to places he should not have done”

In some cases, it started with the use of thugs and self-declared disenchanted workers at some institutions to effect the forcible removal of the targeted persons. Prof. Wilson K.Tarpeh, then Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) became the first victim of such scheme, when some employees under the guise of “protecting the mandate and act that established EPA organized a protest that successfully eased him out and in his place, President Boakai announced the nomination of Dr.  Emmanuel Urey Yakpawulo as Acting Executive Director.

Apparently believing that what happened in EPA that saw Prof. Tarpeh removed, some workers at the National Fishery and Aquaculture Authority(NaFAA) started their own attack on the Director General Madam Emma Metieh –Glassco with demonstration and demanding her removal as well.

However, they were not so lucky as their plans failed after several other workers including beneficiaries of her out-reach program to empower Liberian business women stoutly stood their grounds and resisted such unlawful assembly and the resort to violence to cause for the dismissal of the head of one of the thriving institutions in the country with any cause.

President Boakai in between made several appointments at various entities without regard to the law that protected their positions. The entire board at the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) were removed and replaced with supporters of the President who campaigned for him during the 2023 general elections, the efforts the President made to reward them to such an important board.

Though they challenged their removal at the Supreme Court and the apex court has placed a stay notice on the execution of the removal, the government has been making frantic moves to ensure that they are not returned to their positions.

One of the tactics is to link them to violating the code of conduct which spells out that certain persons in some positions should not actively get involved in partisan politics. It was alleged that members of the board were actively involved in campaigning for former President George Manneh Weah and his CDC during the just concluded 2023 general election.

Pundits believe that whether the actions are direct mandate of President Boakai or not seems to be immaterial for now as “these coordinated attacks are not veiled”

As the moves against tenure positions intensifies, there are reports that the Director General of the Financial Intelligence Agency, Stanley S. Ford may be the next target as stories are planted in some papers to link him to some corrupt practices or “violation of the code of conduct.

While there are speculations that the Supreme Court decision might have held up the President intent to remove Mr. Ford, multiple sources have confirmed that the scheme is real and the President and his men “are working on various means including Plan B if the Supreme Court is taking longer time”. As the details are being compiled by The Analyst, subsequent development may reveal what are the options are available to the President as he defies every move to remove all tenured officials including Mr. Ford who has come under “severe attacks through paid stories in the media.”

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