Monday, August 2, 2010

Liberia: Encouraging Sign for Rule of Law

2 August 2010



WE REPORTED IN a front lead of this paper last week that the Criminal Court A at the Temple of Justice has served an 8-count criminal indictment on House Deputy Speaker Mulbah Tokpah. The house deputy is currently out on bail pending preliminary court hearings scheduled by the court for early this month. Our report said he would have been behind bars pending the August court hearings had his legal counsels not picked up early winds of efforts by state prosecutors to obtain a writ of arrest and acted in time to preempt those efforts by presenting him to the court and forthwith tendering a bond for his release on bail. When he appears in court, the legislative second in command is expected to answer for his role in the near-death assault on Police Patrolman Lexington Beah during the last weekend of June 2010.

THE STATE PROSECUTION is holding the House Deputy Speaker on an 8-count indictment that includes 'criminal conspiracy', 'attempt to commit murder', and 'theft of property'. When he takes the witness' stand in the next one or two weeks, Deputy House Speaker Mulbah Tokpah will be the first sitting high legislative official to face criminal charges. When that happens also, we have no doubt it is bound to raise questions amongst political observers about the extent of legislative immunity and about the urgency, the wisdom, and political ramification of prosecuting a sitting deputy speaker who is from the opposition. But it will also disprove the myth that honorability is an entitlement for public officials that they do not have to anything to prove by what they do or refrain from doing. More importantly, it will raise the question of conditions beyond trial: what becomes of the status of the indictee upon conviction; what if not found guilty? How much does politics contribute to what seems a legal imperative for the Sirleaf Administration given that the deputy speaker comes from the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the voted major rival to the ruling Unity Party?

ALL THESE WHAT'S make the stomach churn and most Liberians would prefer to avoid such a situation that raises questions fundamental to legal and political ifs. They would prefer the state to drop the case against the deputy speaker, seek a compromise, and resolve to move forward with each promising to work for the good of country using the law as the bedrock. They will, in the vain name of peace, prefer the matter swept under the carpet as countless other such vile questions were swept under the carpet for decades and eventually formed the foundation of Liberia's culture of impunity and the culture of outlaw bravado, which some public officials still foolhardily find attractive today. But we think it because of these questions fundamental to the legal and political uncertainties that the state must proceed with the prosecution of the deputy speaker as a matter of national priority. We think so not because it is Mr. Mulbah Tokpah, but because it is the call of the times of extreme need for the rule of law to take over from the rule of political machoism and the sinister culture of outlaw bravado.

COMPROMISING AND 'WASHING dirty linen behind the house' is certainly not the best option opened to the Sirleaf Administration in the face of a legal situation where the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Liberia is charged with felony. We think the state prosecution led by Solicitor General Cllr. Watkins Wright has started a process fundamental to testing the rule of law in this country and from what we see so far, they are on the right path. We bid them continue to the end, not stopping once to be tempted by political expediency and public sentiments, which are all too often willing to compromise the law to achieve quickset cover-over solutions. We hail Cllr. Francis Garlawolo, the legal counsel of the deputy speaker, for mustering the courage to represent the legislator rather than working behind the scene, as is common practice, to avoid prosecution in order to 'protect the speaker's prestige and honorableness' from being smudged by legal records. He has picked the gauntlet alright and all that is required now is to work to the end, not stopping to claim disadvantage or any sort of subterfuge for backing out of this noble effort to set the law on its marks.

THIS NATION HAS come too far experimenting with compromises that only served to exacerbate the difficulties of political and legal reforms. It is time to test the laws and once and for all determine how the nation must proceed in line with the rule of self-governance its people have set for themselves as sovereigns. It is time officials of government are held legally responsible for the paths they chose voluntarily to pursue outside their official realms and bounds. It is time those who are wronged by those who are all too willing to use state power to obtain instant personal gratification get redress through legal recourse rather than otherwise. It is most time to prove that the law is a two-edged sword, which cuts on both edges, that just as the law empowers and sets ordinary men and women above others, it also cuts the platform from beneath them when these men and women fail to balance privilege with responsibility.

WITH THE INDICTMENT already served on the deputy speaker, we believe there is no turning back from his being the first sitting legislator to face criminal charges, possibly revealing the full meaning of Article 42 of the Constitution of Liberia regarding parliamentary immunity, the public conduct of lawmakers, and Liberia's newfound commitment to the rule of law. The public is waiting with bated breath to see how this turns out and they cannot afford to see drawn-out litigation that runs into oblivion, as is common practice.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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