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Liberia: Dismissed Lisgis Deputy Director Smith Sues Boakai’s Govt

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The Civil Law Court has set a hearing date for June 29 to review a declaratory judgment lawsuit filed by Wilmot Smith, a former Deputy Director General at the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), against the administration of President Joseph Boakai.

Smith was dismissed in 2023 by former President George Weah following allegations made on the Spoon TV talk show and Network Communications linking him to financial misconduct regarding funds designated for enumerators.

In his lawsuit, Smith is seeking reinstatement, arguing that his termination by Weah contravenes the Act establishing LISGIS and Article 89 of the Liberian Constitution, which mandates the National Legislature to establish autonomous agencies with internal autonomy.

The lawsuit contends that Smith’s appointment as deputy director was authorized by the LISGIS Board of Directors, a power granted under the June 4, 2018 Act. It argues that while dismissals in such positions require just cause; the Act does not grant the President authority to dismiss him or the Director-General, as the power lies with the LISGIS Board. Furthermore,

The lawsuit asserts that the President’s dismissal of Smith without due process violates constitutional provisions regarding the removal of officials from legislatively created agencies. The lawsuit highlights violations of the Act of LISGIS, particularly Section 50A.4 (1) and (2), which detail the President’s powers over the organization.

But, in the lawsuit, Smith, the petitioner is seeking his reinstatement by the court, arguing that his dismissal by former President Weah violates the Act establishing LISGIS and Article 89 of the

The Liberian Constitution delegates authority to the National Legislature to establish autonomous agencies and thereby create autonomy.

According to the suit, to dismiss the one who occupies a position, it must be for A cause, but the Act of LISGIS does not grant power to the President of Liberia to dismiss him or the Director-General; rather, it is the Board of LISGIS.

The suit further argued that for the president to claim dismissal of the Petitioner “for cause” in the absence of the due process of law is a violation of Chapter III, Article 20 of the Constitution of Liberia, especially when he exercised a power that the law did not give to him. Article 89 of the Liberia Constitution.

“The petitioner was never accorded due process of law, violates the Act of LISGIS. Section 50A.4 (1) and (2) ” the lawsuit alleges.

The act clearly states that: Powers of the President: In keeping with this Act, the President shall exercise such powers as follows: 1. Appoint initially the Board of Directors and Its Chairman, with the Board becoming self-appointing after that upon recommendation of the Director General; 2. Appoint a qualified Director-General initially uncapping with Section 50A.2 above. After that, the authority to make subsequent appointments shall vest in the Board of Directors.

Smith’s legal challenge recalls the statutory requirements set by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2004 relating to LISGIS leadership appointments. It argues that subsequent presidents do not have the jurisdiction to remove the Director-General, Deputy Director Generals, or board members without breaching the LISGIS Act.

Alleging a flagrant disregard for the LISGIS Act, Smith asserts that his rights were violated through an unlawful dismissal by former President George Weah. The lawsuit aims to address these alleged illegal actions and the ongoing consequences for the petitioner.

By Liberian Observer.

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