At ECOWAS COURT: Former Liberian Vice President Seeks For Pension And Benefits Owed

The ECOWAS Court has fixed December 12, 2023 for presentation of the terms of settlement for consent judgment of the Court in a case concerning unpaid pension and retirement benefits of John D. Gray, former Vice President of Liberia, since October 2003.

Justice Gberi-be Ouattara, presiding judge, adjourned the case for two months to allow more time for the process of amicable settlement, after hearing the progress report from both parties during the court sitting held on September 28, 2023.

At the hearing, Mr Lafayette Gould Sr representing the state of Liberia informed the Court that the request for an extension of time was to enable the government fulfil its part in the process of settlement, delayed by the country’s preparation for election.

However, Mr Femi Adedeji who represented the former Vice President told the Court that prior to the court sitting, they did not receive update on developments made on the part of the government towards the amicable settlement.

Thereafter, Mr Gould was mandated to periodically inform H.E. John Gray’s lawyers on developments towards fulfilling their part in the terms of settlement.

In the initiating application with suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/61/21 filed on October 15, 2021, the Vice President who served under President Moses Z. Blah from August 11, 2003 to October 14, 2003, claimed the Liberian government violated his rights, specifically his property rights to pension and retirement benefits and other associated rights.

His lawyer, Mr Adedeji told the Court that the Republic of Liberia violated his rights to freedom from discrimination, equal protection of the law, rights to human dignity, fair hearing and right to property as guaranteed by Articles 2, 3, 4, 7 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) as well as Liberia’s 2003 Act (to amend an Act) providing for retirement pension of the President and Vice President.

He said that the non-compliance of the State was a continuous violation of the State’s domestic law specifically Sections 1 and 2 of the Act of the National Legislature of November 26, 2003.

It states in part that “A former Vice President who has been honourably retired to private life and who is not in any way employed by the government shall receive from the government a pension equal to fifty percent (50%) of the salary of the incumbent Vice President.

In addition, the former Vice President shall be entitled to a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of his/her life. The allowance allowed for this purpose shall not be less than fifteen thousand ($15,000) United States dollars per annum.”

Mr Adedeji also said the government’s action has subjected H.E. John Gray to degrading and humiliating human conditions considering that other former Vice Presidents were receiving their benefits.

He urged the Court to declare the State liable for the violation of the former Vice President’s rights as guaranteed under the ACHPR, the Liberia Constitution of 1986, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other relevant legal texts.

He asked for a Court order compelling the State of Liberia to pay H.E. Gray’s retirement benefits from October 14, 2023, his pension benefits for life, and $5,000,000 (Five million dollars) as general damages for the violations.

Also on the panel were Justices Sengu M. Koroma, and Ricardo Claúdio Monteiro Gonçalves.

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