Monrovia – The February Term of Court has started and the hearings of cases are taking a snail pace in the absence of a Solicitor General (SG).
With the numerous appointments, President George Weah has not named the Solicitor General to replace Cllr. Betty Lamin Blamo, who was appointed in 2014 by ex- president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Sources close to the Ministry of Justice told FPA that President Weah was expected to name the SG Monday but that did not happen.
Former Chairperson of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission Francis Johnson Allison who once served as Chief Justice told FrontPageAfrica that in the absence of the SG, the Ministry of Justice’s ability to prosecute cases.
Cllr. Allison: “The SG is a pillar of prosecution at the Ministry of Justice and if he/she is not named, cases at Supreme Court will not be heard.”
“When you cannot go to the Supreme Court, it will delay criminal cases of the ministry, and the defendant who is on trial will not get justice in-time.”
She clarified without the SG, prosecution lawyers can act but such actions wouldn’t be robust and effective as the SG.
“There are other lawyers to represent the state at the Supreme Court, the SG primarily represents the ministry at the High Court, but if the role is given to another lawyer, they will be taking away important office matters of the ministry,” she said.
She added that in the absence of the SG, county attorneys would have to report to the Minister of Justice – something she said would be burdensome on the Minister.
FrontPageAfrica has gathered that names like Cllrs. Arthur Johnson, Nyenati Tuan and Darku Mulbah are among the favorites for the post.
Cllr. Arthur Johnson
THE LOWDOWN: A number of cases started by the former SG are currently at the Supreme Court and other lower courts have not been completed. Key among them, economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, including Sable Mining, former NPA managing Director Matilda Parker, and other major cases. The incoming SG faces a daunting task to continue on the gains made by the former SG.
Many at times, the Supreme Court fined the Ministry of Justice for failure to file their legal briefs within statutory period, something the high court continuously frowned upon.
UPSIDE: Cllr. Johnson has worth of experience in the Criminal Justice and criminal law. He’s one of youngest lawyers who started his law career as public defender and later ascended to establishing his own law firm.
Cllr. Johnson is considered as one of the best criminal lawyers following the death of Cllr. Theophilus Gould. He has in recent times been hired by the Ministry of Justice to serve as prosecution lawyer.
Having Cllr. Musa Dean at the Ministry, some in the legal professionals believe Cllr. Johnson will be of great help to Weah-led government and he is a good face to represent the government.
DOWNSIDE: Cllr. Johnson was recently slammed by the Justices of Supreme Court for not advising his client (Abu Kamara) rightfully that he had violated the Code of Conduct.
Kamara, serving as Assistant Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, filed a Writ of Prohibition on the NEC for allegedly violating his right and rejecting him without due process.
Cllr. Johnson representing his client at the Supreme Court was criticized, “Your presence here is a violation of the Court’s ruling and you all have to be sincere to the practice,” Justice Kabina Ja’neh burst out during the hearing.
But Cllr. Johnson told FrontPage Africa that he is not interested in becoming the SG.
Cllr. Nyenati Tuan
UPSIDE: Cllr. Tuan reportedly has been with CDC for a long time and worked hard in ensuring that Weah became President. He is described as smart man with a graduate degree from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law in 1985.
He is known to knowledgeable of the law. Cllr. Tuan served as Deputy Commissioner of the then Bureau of Immigration now Liberia Immigration Service.
“All my life I have been practicing law, and this job will not bring any new experience,” he told FrontPageAfrica when quizzed on whether he would accept the post.
DOWNSIDE: Cllr. Tuan is one of lawyers who was reportedly tipped to replace Cllr. Charles Gibson whose nomination was withdrawn due to integrity issues, but was not named.
Critics say he may be lacking the experience to head the SG office because of little experience on criminal cases. Some legal observers say he may have a steep learning curve to make immediate impact as his strength is primarily with civil law.
Cllr. J. Daku Mulbah
THE LOWDOWN: Cllr. Mulbah has served as the attorney of Montserrado County since 2009 with a responsibility of supervising the remaining 14 counties in the republic.
He owned the Liberty law firm prior to his ascendency as Monsterrado County Attorney, he was one of the original advisors of former SG Betty Lamin Blamo. He has worked in the legal sector for a long period.
Cllr. Mulbah, leading a team of lawyers was successful in prosecuting the mercenary case involving Liberians who crossed into Ivory Coast to cause mayhem and several sexual abuse cases.
Legal observers say Cllr. Mulbah has helped to rehabilitate many defendants who were accused of robbery and theft.
He is currently leading a team to prosecute former and current lawmakers who were allegedly involved in the Sable mining bribery.
DOWNSIDE: Cllr. Mulbah’s refusal to draw an indictment against ex-president’s son Fomba Sirleaf involvement in the Sable mining trial was seen as a sheer cover-up.
He also didn’t draw an indictment against Atty. George Kailondo who was charged for negligence homicide following revelation on the death of G.T Bank Dan Orogun at his (Kailondo’s) residence outside Monrovia.
Some say though Cllr. Mulbah brings a lot of experience to the job following years of serving as County Attorney of Montserrado, some legal pundits doubt whether he has the willpower to bring about the robust changed needed at the Ministry of Justice and the Liberian justice system.