The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of the Director General of the National Lottery Authority (NLA), Mr.Martin S. Kollie, for his illegal removal as NLA boss.
The decision grew out of a writ of prohibition filed by Kollie’s lawyer, Cllr. Stanley S. Kparkillen, seeking to prevent his client’s removal from his position as NLA head.
According to Cllr. Kparkillen, his client was illegally removed on grounds that his tenure had not expired before his removal.
Cllr. Kparkillen on April 13 filed a Writ of Prohibition before the high court seeking legal redress against his client’s illegal removal.
A writ of prohibition is a writ directing a subordinate to stop doing something the law prohibits. In practice, the court directs the clerk to issue the writ.
The lawyer of Kollie questioned how the Executive Mansion could suspend his client when in fact the Supreme Court is yet to dispose of a case currently before it involving the very Executive Mansion via the Ministry of Justice and his client that borders on his illegal replacement as head of the NLA.
Handing down the opinion on Monday, Chief Francis S. Korkpor agreed with the petitioner Martin Kollie on grounds that Article 89 of the Constitution of Liberia specifically created three autonomous commissions, and that same Article authorizes the Legislature to create other agencies as may be necessary for the effective operation of government and enact laws for their governance.
Korkpor further stated that even though the nomenclature does not so expressly depict, the National Lottery Authority enjoys all attributes of an autonomous public commission therefore, the Legislature acted within the scope of its authority in enacting laws for its governance, including the provision to tenure for its Director General.
He stated that an Act passed by the Legislature is presumed to be constitutional unless the contrary is clearly shown, and so the legislature is presumed to have acted constitutionally in passing a statue and that the court must out of presumption that the statue is constitutional and valid and that every intendment in favor of the validity of the statue.
“That there is no showing that the Act passed by the Legislature providing tenure for the director general of NLA is in violation of the power granted the President of Liberia under Article 56(a) of the constitution to appoint and dismiss at his pleasure officials of government appointed by him, therefore this court sees no reason to declare the said Act unconstitutional as the Minster of Justice and Attorney General has urged us to do,” he said.
Chief Justice Korkpor noted that Section 8.1 (b) of the Act establishing NLA provides that the Director General of NLA hall hold office for an initial period of four years, but may be re-appointed for another four years and no more, and notwithstanding the Director General may resign his post by notice in writing addressed to the President of Liberia through the Broad of Directors or may be removed by the President for inability to discharge the functions of his office ,whether arising from infirmity of mind or any cause or for proved misconduct.
And that there being no showing that any of the conditions under which the director general of NLA may be removed from office by the President before expiry of his tenure had occurred, his removal was not within the law.
Meanwhile, wherefore in view of the facts, the alternative writ of prohibition issued by the Chamber Justice “is hereby confirmed and the pre-emptory writ prayed for is granted and ordered issued,” Justice Korkpor stated.
The Supreme Court Clerk is ordered to inform the parties in this case to give effect to this judgment, the Chief Justice ordered.