“It is legal to abolish LACC” – Supreme Court Denies Cllr. Martin’s Petition

MONROVIA – After a protracted period of legal action he instituted at the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of the amended act calling for the re-establishment of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), the apex court yesterday denied Cllr. Edward Martin’s plea, saying LACC being a creature of the legislative branch of government, the legislature has the absolute power to amend, modify or abolish the LACC as deemed expedient in the interest of the state.

In his petition to the high court Cllr. Martin said the court should interpret the constitutionality of sections 16.1 and 16 .2 of the act to amend and restate an act to establish the Liberia Anti-Corruption commission as enshrined in the new act printed into handbill by the national legislature.

The judgment signed by the Chief Justice Sie-Nyene G Yuoh, Associate justice Jamesetta H. Wolokollie, Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, and Associate Justice Yussif D. Kaba, noted that the actions of the national legislature could not be considered a violation of one’s right as stated in the petition of Cllr, Edwin Martin.

The Supreme Court further revealed that Cllr. Martin, and others at the LACC still occupied and maintaining their respective positions and enjoying all of the associated benefits and immunities cannot be said to have been removed from office, as the transitional tenure provisions of sections 16.1 and 16.2 are.

The Chief Justice and Associate Justices maintain that futuristically, the petitioner’s [Edwin Martin] petition is prematurely filed, however, the bench said should it become necessary to terminate the services of the petitioner and others similarly situated before the expiration of their contractual rights.

 The court said the sanctity of contract as enshrined in the constitution, should be given due consideration.

 “That no public official has vested the right to a public office except for those officers or offices that are clearly and expressly protected by the constitution, which is not the case in the present petition .” the court said.

Reading the opinions of the Court, the Justice –in- Chamber, Associate Justice Sie-Nyene G. Yuoh, said they will predicate juridical cognoscente of the national legislature to creation of administrative agencies as enshrined in the petitioner petition as a reference to 16.1 and 16.2 of the LACC new act.

She added that the legislature in 2008 created the LACC and it provided for the multi-member command structure of five commissioners to meet the requirements of  the agency of government.

“This court observes that the legislature in their wisdom decided to place the leadership of LACC in the care of five unbiased professionals who are less vulnerable to presidential control and special interest.” Justice Yuoh said.  

According to her, the petitioners and others before the abolishment of the LACC in 2008 and the creation of the LACC in 2022, the petitioner was given status until a couple of commissioners were appointed by the president.

She further said the petitioner in his response to the question in the affirmative that because he has contractual rights to the chairmanship of the LACC which guarantee him five-year section 16.1 16.2 of the new LACC act violates article 25 of the constitution is false.

 Accordingly, Associate Justice Yuoh said their disagreement is premised on the fact that the opportunity to hold public office is a privilege and not a constitutional role.

 “It is stated that public officers generally possess desperate rights to a public since there is no fundamental inherent or constitutionally protected right.” Justice Yuoh said.

It can be recalled Cllr Edwin Martin in his petition quoted that section 6.1 of the Act, provides for the Anti-Corruption Commission to have five individual members known as commissioners, one of whom should be appointed as chairperson, one as vice Chairperson who should act as chairperson in the absence of the Chairperson, while section 6.2 of the self same Act also provides for the nomination of the five  Commissioners to be made by the President of the Republic of Liberia and upon being confirmed by the Senate, subsequently be appointed and Commissioned to their respective office by the President..

The petition further said that having been appointed, confirmed, commissioned, and given a tenure of five consecutive years each under section 6.6 of an Act to establish the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission” which was approved August 21, 2008 and printed in handbill on August 28, 2008 he has been vested with the exclusive constitutional rights to occupy, duly exercise and perform his functions and responsibilities without any molestation or hindrance, and shall be removed “upon proven cause” under section 6.8 of an act to establish the Liberia Anti-Corruption t (Petitioners’ Exhibit P/1) consistent with due process of law as laid under article 20(a) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.

Petitioner said that his tenure constitutes a legitimate contract under article 25 of the 1986 Constitution which can neither be impaired nor arbitrarily concealed by the mere passage of a law without due process in keeping with article 20(a) of the 1986 constitution

 President Weah in early July signed the controversial Act into law, which seeks to appoint new Chairperson [commissioners] who are serving in tenure positions and making other critical amendments to the LACC Act of 2008.

All “commissioners now serving the LACC shall remain in office after the enactment of this new law until their successors are appointed, but each is eligible to apply and be subjected to the appointment procedure provided for this la,” according to Part XVI of the restated LACC act, titled Transitional Provision,

In addition, the new Act says that Commissioners now serving the LACC shall remain in office after the enactment of the new law until their successors are appointed, “but each is eligible to apply and be subjected to the appointment procedure provided for by this law.”

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