By Cassius Bedell
Former Liberian Justice Minister, Christina Tah, resignation has left a lot of questions unanswered, and no matter how much she tried hard to pacify the facts, it cannot be over emphasized, that Cllr. Tah served within the Sirleaf administration for nearly six years as Justice Minister and Anthony General and, given the portfolio of the office, she was probably the most powerful official in the Sirleaf administration. Not many officials in the current government can lay claim to have serve that long in their current posts, this suggest, that Tah dis-contentedness as recently sufficed is loaded with motivates that has nothing to do with the concepts she lay bare in her recent open communication, which she addressed to the Liberian people. Reports say she was an active participant in the decision makings of the executive branch at the highest level, and was in the thick of things; interesting, she now wishes to disassociate herself from the very policies this former all-powerful former cabinet member once executed while serving her boss, President Sirleaf!
The Tah indictment of the Sirleaf administration, many have said cannot be taken seriously, since she was an active player until her license was withdrawn and suspended for six months by the Supreme Court, in what the highest court of the land must have construed, was contempt for releasing a high profile journalist who had been detained by its orders. Unfortunate as that may be, the former justice minister who understands the doctrine of the separations of powers more than the average citizen knows the presidency operates independently of the judiciary.
Ill-timed also, this most publicized resignation given that these are extra-ordinary times as the nation grappled with the Ebola Virus Disease, another distraction that Liberia didn’t need in these difficult hours, we must all rally around our people and work hard so that this scourge is banished from our country! Hence the national security implications that currently be- gulf the nation are daunting to say the least in the wake of these challenges which are immense and therefore needs all hands on deck.
Moreover, it is critically important to note that Liberia’s current FATAL situation must not be exploited in her greatest hour of need, as it seems, therefore, caution must be taken in these difficult times so as not to jeopardize the country’s interest. One cannot sing the patriot song, yet do everything to in a very difficult time to sink the ship of state
Hence, it seems there are efforts to undermine national security is at foot and particularly the operations of the National Security Agency [NSA] with massive media propaganda from hired pens lurking in the shadows howbeit ungracefully in the wake of the Tah’s resignation, which therefore, seem intently calculated to subvert the national interest as is now common place with vile propaganda in all shape and form and more so pervasive and especially directed against the NSA Director Fombah Sirleaf. This wretched misinformation is unfortunate at the highest. Repeated recent media reports about the NSA director, has gone to the pages and air waves, and with no second thoughts, ‘journalistically’ speaking to ascertain the facts and therefore seek the side of the other party! Yellow journalism must be discourage, in post war reconstruction Liberia, since ethically media practitioners are under obligation to report the facts and remove their personal passions from the news stories they write or broadcast. If journalists must be taken seriously so must their works speak for them. What must be said though is that Tah erred enormously while at the justice ministry, and she neither laid claim to the dreadful decisions she executed nor took responsibility for those judgments in her letter of resignation.
Looking back, former Justice Minister Cllr. Tah stewardship at Justice, the cursory observer must be opportune to recount, that under her leadership much is still to be desired, when you considered that 62 illegal contracts were signed while she presided at the ministry. These bogus contracts we may all recalled received national and international condemnations and headlines, these contracts are said to have been in clear violation of Liberian laws, was pretty much the model of a status quo of bad leadership which consequently did hurt Liberia’s image worldwide, but President Sirleaf, in her tolerance and the confidence she reposed in Tah gave her the benefit of the doubt still, to serve her nation despite the lapses in judgement she exhibited while she was at Justice. Tah was an insider, someone, who due to her influence and the respectability she garnered by her high profile executive appointment enjoyed the confidence of the president on several occasions, and hence would serve as Head of the cabinet, as the president travel out of the country constantly.
As Minister of Justice, Cllr. Tah controlled all security agencies in the country but also as a delegating responsibility from the Office of the President of the Republic of Liberia. The president is vested with the executive powers to direct security operations in the country. And as she wishes, assign these functions as may deem warranted and necessary within her constitutional purview as president of the nation. Hence, the waters should not be muddled and Fombah Sirleaf name and reputation should not be thrown and tossed around headlong in what seems to be a politically motivated and expedient conjecture, only because he is the president’s son. Cllr. Tah had full responsibilities over security in her capacity as justice minister, it is sad that in her departing letter of resignation she tried hard, and to great length in fine legal language to disassociate herself from these responsibilities insinuating purposefully that somehow she was being undermined. Additionally, Cllr. Tah knows fully well that the National Security Agency (NSA) earnestly is in the business of intelligence gathering as a key asset and its operations supervised by the president’s office and her national security team which include Tah herself as a central player. During her administration at Justice she had the full cooperation of all security agencies in the country, and this fact cannot be further from the truth. Consequently, even in the United States which Liberia look to so much to effect and perfect its own governance, the National Security Agency can only be answerable to the office presidency.
The former Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia cannot divorce the fact that NSA and not and the individual “Fombah Sirleaf” carried out their assigned duties for which they took an oath and in compliance with their referenced duty, and, as recently adjusted by the national legislature in dissolving certain security entities these past few years such as the Ministry of National Security, the National Bureau of Investigation etc.
As a professional, Cllr. Tah should have objected and resigned then as Minister of Justice, if her dissatisfaction was that heightened and her personal disagreements that immense, but instead selected to compromise her reputation and legal ethic by signing-off on questionable illegal contracts that were clearly in violation of Liberian laws which have hurt the country’s reputation so enormously! No one should embark on an unholy campaign of distorting information in these critical times as Liberia reels from an epidemic in a critical crisis period with intent to promoting false and inaccurate information and in the process beg for public sympathy. The spreading of falsehood, ostensibly with the intentions of blackening the image of the National Security Agency in these difficult times is unacceptable. The NSA is critically important to Liberia’s security needs as it gathers intelligence to serve the greater interest of the nation as it has information on individuals who sole purpose is to hurt the interest of the country!
The Former Justice Minister must not subvert a known fact through expediency in what seems a disagreement that her law licence was suspended by the Liberian Supreme Court. And it is fair for the former minister to have these misgivings about the Liberian high court as citizen if she feels aggrieved that her rights were trampled. What is not fair is to cast a wide net of indictment on Liberia’s post war reconstruction efforts, essentially as far as the law is concerned. No system is entirely perfect, and Liberia today does not have a tyrannical dictatorship as we are being led to believe! Why did it take six long years to come up with all these complaints suddenly?
Cllr. Tah qualms especially rests with President Sirleaf’s decision to appoint Cllr. David B. Jallah, of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law to speedily investigate the National Security Agency (NSA) over reports that the NSA and other relevant security organs were investigating issues over the arrest of Korean nationals and their alleged possession of counterfeit money and other harmful substances. The president have the executive powers to do so! Independent counsels being appointed even in mature democracies, including the United States is not new. What is wrong now with this appointment by the President of Liberia who is executing her duties as Head of the Executive Branch of Government? Is President Sirleaf’s decision to appoint Cllr. David B. Jallah sufficient to justify Cllr. Tah’s resignation or otherwise? Or did the Supreme Court decision to suspend her law license the overriding boiler that tip the pot?
Please, Cllr. Tah, many are hoping that you will tell the Liberian people the actual story behind your resignation. Even though Agents from the NSA effected an arrest of the individuals connected to the deal, along with an undisclosed amount of counterfeit monies, and forwarded all the details to the Ministry of Justice, media hired guns are using all sorts of rundown traditional blackmail propaganda techniques designed to unwittingly engage in a smear adventure and campaign against Fombah Sirleaf and the entire first family.
These reports were first published in the National Chronicles newspaper. The Chronicles Newspaper which is headed by Mr. Philibert Browne. In a Headline: “In Alleged Organized Crime In Gold And Diamond Deal, NSA, Lebanese Steal US$284,000 From Koreans, Seize Bank-Withdrawn Money, Infuse Counterfeit” National Chronicle Wednesday, July 30,2014 edition. Essentially, the story erroneously and dangerously sorts to identify the NSA Agents who carried out the arrest by roping in the name of their boss Fombah Sirleaf.
What is disturbing about this issue is that no one has questioned the credibility of the individual (s) responsible for the erroneous article published in the National Chronicle. Do they really know the role of the National Security Agency and what it entails? Because even in developed countries, the National Security do not need the permission of any entity to investigate Economic Crimes, especially involving money laundering, an international crime which could seriously undermine the credibility of Liberia, a country struggling to evolve from corruption and civil strife.
Truly, such investigation is necessary, because those publications against the NSA are malicious and unfortunate. Every news editor or director dreads hearing from upset readers or viewers when seemingly simple facts of news story somehow ends up being twisted. A fact in news writing is a cardinal virtue in popular journalism. Ask any journalist who worth his or her salt and he/she will tell you that accuracy is a fundamental value in news writing, university journalism programs teach it, codes of ethics preach it and, in most cases, the audience un-apologetically demands factual reporting.
Hence, individuals under the guise of practicing partisan journalism will do Liberian no good! The NSA and other relevant authorities should be allowed to do their work of investigating the substantive issues underpinning the arrest of the Koreans and their alleged possession of counterfeit money and other harmful substances. This low rate media propaganda and the pointed debased tirade against the head of the NSA is not only unwarranted it doesn’t served the national interest. Let the detractors hold their horses and give cause a chance to a truly civil investigation of the matter.
As a professional and a very important and powerful former cabinet member, the former justice minister and her letter of resignation go against best practices. Normally when officials served at such highest level in society and have enjoyed the confidence of their president, they bowed out gracefully and would leave the nuance of divergences to diplomatic niceties. Tah frustrations however are understandable: the Supreme Court, the highest court in all of the land denied and withdrawn her hard won “personal asset”— law certificate, her colleague in the cabinet in the person of Lewis Brown called a press conference and without consulting his cabinet colleague delved into matters on which she thought she should have been consulted, and hence the president who controls national security in all of the land delegated an investigation of the agency which her office oversees to an independent counsel as she exercised her due constitutional vested rights!
But never in the annals of recent Liberian history did a departing official and especially a justice minister who served for long six years cast a net so wide full of indictments over the policies she/he presided over. To be politically expedient is one thing, and to disagree respectfully based on policy difference with your boss is another. Now that Cllr. Tah’s law licence has been restored by the nation’s highest court, let’s hope she will go on practicing the profession she loves so much! Or probably run for office and win some hearts and minds!