Gongloe Sets Integrity Standards -Leaves behind Over US$100,000 in LNBA Coffer

Counselor Tiawan Saye Gongloe outgoing President of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) has demonstrated integrity check at the bar for others to follow having ends term of service Sunday, 28 November, following the holding of Annual Convention 2021 in Ganta, Nimba County.

He left behind in LNBA coffer over US$100, 000, returned huge chunked of unused money or cash and audited by MGI Monbo and Company, an auditing firm hired but found to have committed no wrongdoing.

The audit under reviewed was from Tuesday, 01 January, 2019 to October, Sunday, 31, 2021. For the record, Gongloe returned over US$2, 000 of unused money or cash to the LNBA.

In his first trip to Nigeria as President of the LNBA to attend a meeting of the Governing Council of the African Bar Association, Tiawan was given US$1,000 by the LNBA for any unexpected expenditure.

He used only US$183 because his hotel and other expenses were covered by the African Bar Association, except for the short trip from Abuja to Lagos and that of the hotel bill for one night he spent in Lagos before returning to Liberia.

“I returned to the LNBA US$817. Recently, I returned US$480 also to the LNBA from my trip to the Gambia from the US$500, having used $20 as security fee at the Banjul Airport on departure,” Gongloe recounted.

He as well also returned the entire US$1, 000 that he received from the LNBA for his trip to Lome, Togo at the invitation of the Economic Community Court of Justice because all of my bills were paid by the court.

The lawyers boss went further by saying change by any leader is only effective when the leader does what he says. “India’s former Premier Mahatma Gandhi put it succinctly, “Be the Change you want to see in the world.”

Gongloe told his compatriots that he had played his part therefore it was time for him to leave but appealed to them not to let the record set to end with his regime because it is a record that all lawyers must be proud of and not only continue to maintain it, but must support all subsequent administrations of the LNBA to improve upon.

He therefore paid tribute to some members of the LNBA certifying them for going the extra-mile in their work by supporting his service. They included Counselors Sylvester Dorbor Rennie, Bobby F. W. Livingstone, B. Rachell Yabah-Doubah, Cyril Jones, Jura A. Lynch, Joyce Reeves Woods, Jallah Barbu, M. Wilkins Wright, Abraham Sillah, Bornoh Varmah and Frances Johnson Morris.

Others were Barthoh Varmah, Frederick Gbemie, Jimmie Bombo, Bushiben Keita, Alice K. Sirleaf, Mohammed Sheriff, Kukuyon Wleh, T. Emmanuel Tomah, Edward Bonwinkor, Josephine Boakai Sumo, Dennis P. Dennis, Venus Kanmoh and Washington.

On the LNBA united front, he urged the body to have a collective moral and professional duty, as lawyers, to improve the practice of law in Liberia and in doing so help to improve the performance of the judiciary.

“All lawyers both on the bench and bar should do everything they can for the improvement of the Liberian Judiciary. The peace and stability of Liberia and the economic growth and development of our country depend on an independent and well-functioning judiciary,” Gongloe said.

He stated that democracy promotes regular elections and a definite term of office therefore the Liberian National Bar Association’s Constitution as President can only serve one term of office lasting three years, adding, “One of the duties of the President of the LNBA is to open the annual convention of the Liberian National Bar Association.”

Gongloe then recounted the huge support and cooperation he received from every member of the LNBA, including those serving in the executive, and the Judiciary, from the Chief Justice and justices of the Supreme Court down to the magistrates during the 3 years one term limit.

He strongly believes the support of the Judiciary for the license mandate of the LNBA has greatly helped his administration in getting rid of quacks, who without any form of legal education, were engaged in the illegal practice of law by paying professional license fee at the Liberian Revenue Authority (LRA) performing legal services for gullible Liberians in need of legal services. “

“By not allowing unlicensed lawyers to practice law or dismissing cases filed by them at the judiciary has greatly strengthened the standard of law practice in Liberia. By cooperating with our leadership in enforcing the license mandate, the number of lawyers paying dues and attending LNBA activities has greatly increased,” Tiawan pointed out.

During Annual Convention 2020, with the cooperation between the bench and bar on the license, it recorded the attendance of 412 lawyers, an unprecedented number of attendees for a non-election convention in the history of the LNBA.

But that record was beaten this year, because Convention 2021 has, thus far, recorded 585 lawyers and law school students, the highest number of attendees at any bar convention in the history of the LNBA.

“Our leadership stands in an unending debt to the Korkpor Bench for this progress made by the LNBA. In the case of the Executive Branch of Government, I cannot forget the fact that the Vice President of Liberia represented the President of Liberia at the opening of the 2019 Convention of the African Bar Association and the fact that the President hosted a dinner in honor of all attendees at the convention,” he recalled.

Gongloe also stated how the Executive Branch continues to allow the LNBA to use the home of the Late President Joseph Jenkins Roberts as their national headquarters, instead of it being used as a tourist facility.

“With the current level of cooperation between the Bench and Bar, I can safely say that in a few years, the LNBA will soon move to its own headquarters, a beautiful three story building now under construction,” he assured his colleagues.

About setting standards at the bar, Gongloe boasted that today without any fear of contradiction the LNBA is now well-known all over Liberia from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas and from Mount Nimba to the Putu Mountains.

And this is because the LNBA has been a credible voice of the lawyers in the country on all legal issues on the grounds that the bar is no longer a begging organization but became self-reliant in carrying out its activities and implementing its projects.

On partnering with donors during Gongloe three-year tenure, the LNBA has made ground-breaking achievements. It was assisted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Legal Professional Development and Anti-Corruption Programme (LPAC) that held a validation workshop on its strategic plan and manpower policy, and implemented a vigorous Continuing Legal Education Programme.

The LNBA introduced the licensing of lawyers, instead of a good standing certificate, improved financial accounting by re-organizing the accounting system based on the advice of LPAC, implemented a justice first project, an undertaking created awareness on access to justice in several places in Liberia.

With the assistance of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the LNBA drafted a bill for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia, continuing the Legal Aid Program without any financial support from any source.

The LNBA also introduced a newsletter of the Bar, commenced raising of the walls of the LNBA three story headquarters building on the Robertsfield highway and for the first time, hosted Convention 2021 of the African Bar Association, the only international event ever hosted by the Liberian National Bar Association, which convention was rated the best ever by Barrister Hannibal Nwaifo, President of the African Bar Association.

Meanwhile, the LNBA has paid tribute to its fallen comrades or lawyers who died during the year under review, mostly due to COVID19: Counselors Farmere G. Stubblefied, Robert E. Cooper, Richard K. Flomo, Benjamin Mulbah Togba, Emma Shannon Walser and Joseph R. Watson.

Others were Amos Y. Bartu, James S. Bomosee, Eddington A. Varmah, Madea Elaine Martin-Wiles, Boakai P. Harris, George C. Katakpah, Robert N. Gbarbea, Joseph N. Cornomina, Samuel G. T. Kpa-Sarto, J. Vinton Holder and Morris A. Kaba; Writes Throble k. Suah, Ganta, Nimba County.

In a related development, The Liberia National Bar Association has ended its two-day convention in Ganta, Nimba County with Cllr. Sylvester D. Rennie emerged as the LNBA President-elect with 218 Votes while Cllr. Jarmal C. Dehtho, Jr. snatched 250 Votes as the Vice President-elect while Bornor M. Varmah who accumulated 294 Votes was pronounced the Secretary General of the LNBA leadership and Cllr. Rachell Yarbah-Duobah elected treasurer of the LNBA with 254 Votes

According to a dispatch from Ganta, the presidency for the bar was contested by four lawyers including Cllr. Alhaji Swaliho A. Sesay (13 Votes), Cllr. Abraham B. Sillah (114 Votes), Dr. Jallah A. Barbu (129 Votes), and Sylvester D. Rennie who won with 218 Votes. The dispatch further indicated the total Valid Votes stands at 474, with two invalid votes while the total of valid and invalid votes amounted to 476.

For the position of Vice President it was contested by the winner Cllr. Sylvester D. Rennie who defeated Cllr. Bobby F.W. Livingstone (215 Votes) with 218 Votes while the position of Secretary General was contested by Cllr. Luther Yorfee (41 Votes), Cllr. Jura Lynch (55 Votes), Atty. Lamii Kpargoi (85 Votes) and Bornor M. Varmah(294 Votes) who emerged winner of the race. Total Valid Votes was put at 465; invalid votes put at 10 while both valid and invalid voted amounted to 475.

Similarly the contest for the treasurer was between Atty. Mameita Jabateh-Sirleaf who lost with 212 Votes to Cllr. Rachell Yarbah-Duobah who snatched 254 Votes with total valid votes at 466.

At the opening of the convention that elected the new leadership, the outgoing President, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe recounted integrity standards his administration set for the LNBA and urged the incoming and successive leaderships that standards set should not end with his leadership.

The LNBA, he said, is no more a begging organization. “Under my administration the LNBA become self-reliant in carrying out its activities and implementing its projects,” he said noting that it is worth saying that for the first time, the LNBA hired an external auditing firm, Mombo and Co.

“Following competitive bidding to audit my administration. I have directed the Executive Director of the LNBA to release the report to members of the LNBA on line in the shortest possible. These are, to borrow the words of the Late LNBA President TC Gould, non-debatable facts,” he stressed.

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