The President and the Office: An Open Advice
SOURCE: AUGUSTUS DAIKAI JONES CELL: 0886-824636 / 0777-291









Article 61 of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia says:

“The President shall be immune form any suits, actions, proceedings, judicial or otherwise, and from arrest, detention or other actions on account of any act done by him while president of Liberia pursuant to any provision of this Constitution or any other law of the Republic. The president shall not, however be immune from prosecution upon removal from office for the commission of any criminal act done while president.”

It is very, very important that the President and the Office to note this constitutional provision. The president is immune from action, judicial or otherwise on account of any act done while president. That is, if it is an “act of wrongdoing”, the president is immune. For example: Article 58:”… In presenting the economic condition of the Republic the report shall cover expenditure as well as income” Though the president has, on the fourth working Monday in January of each year presented a yearly report to the Legislature, in presenting the economic condition of the Republic, the report is to “cover expenditure as well as income”. But, (I stand to be corrected), since 2006, none of the reports presented to the Legislature has covered income juxtapose with expenditure, an act that could warrant judicial action, even arrest and detention; yet, pursuant to this provision of the Constitution, no action is to be taken on account of this act done while president. However, like Charles G. Bryant, actions are put off until after the office to face charges of “Economic Sabotage”. We want to know how much have been the incomes from FDA, LPRC, NPA, Maritime, RIA, Social Security, etc, as well as their expenditures. We want to know the incomes from bilateral agreements and their expenditures. We want to know how much donations have come in and how have they been expended. We want to know how much incomes are taxes and how their expenditures.

However, it is equally very important that the President and the Office note this: “The president shall not however, be immune from prosecution upon removal from office for the commission of any criminal act done while president”. This means that, there are acts considered criminal that the president can do, while president, to be removed from office and prosecuted. It is important to note those acts, because, constitutional immunity does not cover – up for crimes.

Criminal Acts:
Article 62 identifies those acts considered as criminal for which the president should be removed from office by impeachment. They are: “Treason, bribery and other felonies, violation of the Constitution or gross misconduct”. We give this open advice on two of the acts that can be proven for impeachment- [“treason” and “violation of the Constitution”].

Treason
Article 72 defines “Treason against the Republic” to consist of: “…abrogating or attempting to abrogate, subverting or attempting or conspiring to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other means which attempts to undermine this Constitution”. For example: The act by the President and the Office in relation to the “threshold” was a use of force or show of force or a means that undermined the Constitution; and, it is “Treason against the Republic”.

The number of citizens to be prescribed, in keeping with population growth and movements as revealed by the national census, according to Article 80:d&e of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, is the constitutional  responsibility of the Legislature. Twice, the Legislature proscribed the threshold which reflected “growth” and “movements” to be projected by representation in the National Legislature. Twice, the President and the Office vetoed the threshold, with no consideration given to growth and movements to be projected by representation.

The 2008 Census result puts the total population of Liberia at 3,476,608. The Legislature, that has the Constitutional responsibility, considering growth and movements to be justified by representation, and also, considering that a county (should not be reduced to a single constituency) must at least maintain her two seats, the threshold was prescribed at 38,000; this meant there would be 91 members of the House of Representative (27 more than the 64 members House that had the responsibility). The President used her veto force (though misused) to create nine seats and divided same among the big counties (for pacification), giving no consideration to growth and movement to be identified by representations, thus, undermining “this Constitution”. This commission was (and is) one of those criminal acts that the President is not immune from prosecution upon removal from office by impeachment “while president” (treason”).

Abrogate is to annul by authority. The act of the President was (and is) abrogating “this Constitution” by misused veto power. Subvert is to corrupt; undermine the principle or character of; to destroy utterly. The veto corrupted or undermined the principles or the characters of “this Constitution”. Annul is to make or declare void or invalid. The President’s act made Article 80: d & e invalid by use of force or show of force or a means that undermined the principle or character of “this Constitution.”

Violation of this Constitution
For example: The President and the Office, representing the “Republic” is to “ensure the publication and dissemination of this Constitution throughout the Republic and the teaching of its principles and provisions in all institutions of learning in Liberia” (according to Article 10); and that, the President and the Office not to do so is “Violation of this Constitution”.

Therefore, if the President and the Office can not instruct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (or the institution responsible) to publicize and disseminate the 1986 Constitution throughout the Republic, and also, the Ministry of Education to make the teaching of the principles and provisions of the Constitution a subject in the Curriculum to be taught in all institutions of learning in Liberia, the act will be criminal, annulling immune from prosecution, and therefore, the president will be removed from office by impeachment. We think the House of Representative should not fond it difficult to consider a bill to impeach the president from office for “Violation of this Constitution”, after this open notification.

The Constitution
The 1986 Constitution is the “Supreme and fundamental law of Liberia and its provisions shall have binding force and effect on all authorities and persons throughout the Republic”. (Article 2)

Supreme Court Justice William Paterson (1793–1806) defines constitution as: “The form of government, delineated by the mighty hand of the people, in which certain first principles of fundamental laws are established. The belief in limiting government power by a written charter- the Constitution is constitutionalism. The Constitution is more than pieces of paper. It is a living thing that embodies much more than mere words can convey – it embodies intangibles that enable it to work and survive. A constitution may serve as a symbol of the nation, a repository of political values; yet, it becomes more than the sum of veneration. Constitutional veneration must impact on the political system of Liberia. The debate on policy questions has to be whether it is constitutional and not what the President and the Office say or feel; and, this is why the President subscribes to a solemn oath to “support, uphold, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Liberia”.

 


Caution
Article 34:e says: “ The Legislature shall have the power to constitute courts inferior to the Supreme Court, including Circuit Courts, Claims Courts….” Article 26 says: “… anyone injured by an act of the Government or any person acting under its authority … shall have the right to bring suit for appropriate redress. All such suits … shall originate in a Claims Court… “

The “Bill” called, “An Act to Constitute a Claims Court in Each County in the Republic of Liberia” has been passed in the House of Representative and it is presently at the House of Senate for concurrence.

Article 35 says: “Each bill … which shall have passed both Houses of the Legislature shall, before it becomes law, be laid before, the President for his approval….” As such, before “Claims Courts” become law will need the President’s approval.

The President and the Office have to allow constitutional veneration come above “will – power” (which is not constitutional) of the President. Declaring the Constitution void or invalid, thus undermining the principle or character of “this Constitution” by any use of force or show of force or other means which attempts to undermine “this Constitution, is “Treason against the Republic”, a Criminal act that warrants the removal of the president from office by impeachment. It will also be a “violation of this Constitution” not to allow the Judiciary Branch of Government to be fully constituted for the proper administration of justice throughout the Republic. [Two courts – two peoples: the Circuit Court – the Claims Court: the governed – the governors] (The governed / the Circuit Court: the governors / the Claims Court}.

The debate on policy issues has to be what the Constitution says. The Constitution says we, the governed, have the right to bring suit for appropriate redress against the Government or any person acting under the authority of the Government for injuries, constitutional contraventions, property, contracts, tort, or otherwise; but, “All such suits… shall originate in a Claims Court....”

The Government is responsible to the people. The contract, (according to Article 1), is “authority” for “benefit” (safety and happiness). For the Government, as an institution, must make sure that the people are safe and happy to continue to enjoy the authority of the people to govern.  One can fool some of the people some of the time; and even all of the people some of the time; but certainly, one can not fool all of the people all of the time.

We think the President and the Office should not “violate this Constitution” by denying us, the governed, our “fundamental rights” at this time by disapproving the bill for “Claims Courts” throughout Liberia, citing the lack of finance as a reason. Minister Amara Konneh has told us: “Furthermore, to ensure the sustainability of our efforts to enhance transparency and accountability, we will invest through this budget US$19Million toward strengthening our public financial management system”.  (2012 / 13 Budget)

“Claims Court” is the only government institution proper to enhance transparency and accountability and to strengthen our public financial management system, when the governors are taken into consideration. Correction, deference and prevention are very essential to enhancing transparency and accountability and strengthen our public financial management system. To be able to prevent or discourage future wrongful or careless conduct by teaching a lesson to the wrongdoer, or by making an example of him / her, can not be possible, lawfully, if the wrongdoer is the Government or any person acting under its authority, in the absence of “ Claims Courts”.

“Claims Court” is not limited to the present governors. They are only the foundation. There will always be governors (there were governors before you; there will be governors after you). It is only the governor who does wrong is taken to Claims Court; therefore, have no fear.

It is very, very important for the President and the Office to note that, Article 26 is one of those 16 fundamental rights that each of us, citizens of the Republic of Liberia, must have and enjoy; therefore, let this open advice claimed the attention of the President and the Office to venerate “this Constitution” by approving the bill- “An Act to Constitute a Claims Court in Each County in the Republic of Liberia”- when laid before the President for approval.           

 
comments powered by Disqus