By Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
Deeply-concerned and troubled by the quality of some candidates-for-President of our nation come October, 2017, qualities such as crooks, liars, thieves, dishonesty with profound moral decadence, war-mongers/warlords, rebels, lawbreakers and above all, dual citizens, disloyal and unpatriotic to the Republic, beholden to corrupt practices, the US greenbacks, British pounds, German marks, French francs, etc., etc., and their presently-prevailing socio-political activities immediately after the military coup d’état, give rise to our reflections on the facts of history of our (Liberia’s) past, recent past and the present-prevailing activities – practice of law, politics, selective obedience-disobedience to law and the entire spectrum of the judicial process in our country, in the following pages.
Law and Lawyers
Lawyers, historically, are academics and intellectuals – scholars, men and women of letters, of knowledge and the law. Lawyers and lawyer-judges of Supreme or Constitutional courts interpret the bodies of law - rules, regulations of Constitutions that guide, protect and secure human activities and vital interest of society.
Indeed, law is an honorable vocation, a profession treated with high degree of respect and honor. European and other old world countries regarded/called and regard/call lawyers “doctors”, because law is post-graduate study with degree of LLM (master of Law) and terminal degree of JD (jurist doctor) and classical education of the social sciences – law, literature, ethics, logic, Greek, Latin, politics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc., the major courses of study which compose the curricula of the ancient and modern colleges and universities of the old and some new worlds – Heidelberg, Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Japan, India, Egypt, etc.
Liberian Law Practice
But, in Liberia, Law Practice has been reduced, since 1847, by some lawyers to tricks, lies, deceit, double-cross, conflicts of interest and get-rich-quick schemes of rampant dishonesty and corrupt practices. Some Lawyers of this tradition polluted, continue to pollute the democratic, political and economic processes and are the fulcrum of some of Liberia’s decadent, moral behavior.
There had been and are, also, some prominent, notable lawyers who served as government attorneys, but there were others who served and serve government but, simultaneously, were and are legal counsels to giant corporations doing business with government, cases of conflict of interests.
Today 2017, more than a century and half, a majority of Liberian lawyers promote and continue the Liberian tradition of legal practice of “politically-connected lawyers” and “sell political influence”, not legal knowledge and counsel.
Cases in point are the block-busting, on-going historic trial of prominent officials of government for allegedly demanding and accepting millions of US dollars in bribes to amend/repeal, illegally, Liberian law that is in force and effect, in favor of the Sable Mining Company, a bribery-prone, multi-national, foreign-owned corporation. This scheme was exposed by Global Witness, an international watchdog organization.
Most of the indicted defendants are, of course, “politically-connected lawyers”. The central figure who allegedly dished out the bribes as legal counsel to the Sable Mining Company was the Chairman of the ruling political party and confidante of the nation’s President who, also, is Flag Bearer of the same political party. It is alleged that this lawyer-chairman secured a contribution of US 200k, illegally, to the ruling part from his foreign client. He is now Liberian senator.
Some Lawyers had been, and are, legal counsels to and in collusion with banks, insurance companies, major corporations, five-star hotels and the only cellphone companies in cases concerned, mainly, with taxable incomes and questionable payments. Lawyers are legal counsels to illegal encroachers on private land nationwide, including the long-standing Cooper Beach Estate Case already decided by the nation’s Supreme Court. The illegal encroachers depend on “politically-connected lawyers” and court judges who sell erroneous decisions to the highest bribe payer to evade eviction. This issue is potential for violence.
Moreover, Lawyers are mainly responsible for thousands being held in detention for long periods without speedy trial because of unreasonable postponements and baffling. No wonder that our un-informed citizens, an overwhelming majority of the nation’s population, refer to lawyers as “liars, crooks, deceits and money ‘eaters from both sides’ of the litigants’.
Lawyers, Lawmakers as Major “Lawbreakers”
Lawyers and Lawmakers craft, debate and pass the laws that guide and direct the activities to protect society, but with loop-holes consciously intended for selective obedience-disobedience to law. They (Lawyers and Lawmakers) actively disregard, ignore, dishonor and disobey the laws that they crafted into law. Some Examples:
And lastly, we are constrained to share with our response wih the readers, a response to the tough-talking critic of any and every body, Counselor-at-Law, Frederick Jayweh, Esq., now living, comfortably, in the state of Colorado, USA, in the manner following:
August 20, 2013
Dear Cllr. Jayweh:
I view, recognize and appreciate these “debates”, especially on the internet, as an excellent, new, powerful and, relatively, inexpensive forum for free presentation and exchange of candid views and ideas on wide range of subjects – issues about our turbulent past, recent present or prevailing conditions and challenges for the future of our country and people.
The internet, moreover, has become, gradually, an effective forum where teachers, professors and students come to impart and receive knowledge, and where the process is expected to be, will be and is successful, if conducted in an atmosphere of cordiality, respect for the persons and views of others; more so, when participants restrict or confine critical analysis to the issues raised on subject matter at hand.
In the case of accusations or allegations, it is necessary, reasonable and required that accusers be specific, precise – names, dates, places, citations, etc., as you, an attorney, know. And, more importantly, participants refrain from personality attacks, ethnic/tribal and political profiling or ethnic/tribal bigotry.
Now, to my point. My disagreement with, response to and about the National Oration (delivered by Cllr. Varney Sherman) is NOT disagreement with, response to or about the person of Cllr. Sherman or his knowledge or ability as an attorney; but rather to Cllr. Sherman’s public policy positions as pronounced. I made this very clear by itemizing those policy positions as declared (Items 1, 2 & 3) and presented my disagreement/response arguments (B, D & F) as they, more fully, appear in the attachment sent to you. Therefore, I had hoped for and expected a persuasive, point-by-point, response/argument from you, a Counselor-at-Law, designed to demolish, reasonably and legally, my disagreement/response made to Cllr. Sherman’s Oration, but you did not; rather, you went into irrelevant, vituperative diatribes of “Samuel Doe this, Samuel Doe that” with “Bai Gbala, Bai Gbala”, etc., etc.
But, the late, former President has been dead for more than a decade and that he is not around to respond to your undefined, pie-in-the-sky allegations; and Bai Gbala is on the ground in Liberia, involved, as usual, fully involved in the problems of the people and nation.
And besides, the late, former President and Bai Gbala are not on trial here; they are NOT the defendants in the dock, but the object of the debate, our nation’s public policy concerned with the notion of citizenship and its relation to dual citizenship. In my argument against dual citizenship, I raised, among several moral, policy and legal issues and disproved your much-talked about citizenship by birthright (“natural-born” or jus soli). You, the Counselor-at-Law, “an academic and scholar”, presented no intellectual food for thought, but ill-defined, false and populist themes NOT FIT FOR, EVEN, A DEMOGUE POLITICIAN. What, indeed, are your thoughts, basic beliefs, philosophy on the critical issues of our times!!?
Today, our country is a-washed in what I described as “Corruption, Inc.”. When do you return, a patriotic, nationalist compatriot?
I argue that pontification of pie-in-the-sky resolutions to real life-and-death, public policy problems on earth or dishing out criticisms from the comfort of distant lands will not bring about or provide just, lasting socio-political change/order; rather, this change, this democratic transformation will come only when you and all the dual citizenship proponents are physically present, permanently, on the ground in Liberia to participate and experience the socio-economic and political dynamics of “who says and does what to whom, why, how, when & where – and the context of these dynamics”.
But, on the basis of the contents of your literature, it is reasonable for one to wonder about your ability, both, as counselor-at-law and an academic, including your intellectual capability.
A few weeks ago I penned and published an article, Many Liberians, Analyst Liberia, June 23, 2013, regarding, among others, race discrimination by some of our Negro Liberians who bought homes and live comfortably, enjoy benefits of the hard work and sacrifices by non-negro people in their countries, but refuse them the same privileges in Liberia. No doubt that you have a copy, but you lack the “guts” to dare comment or a response. For your information, I attach, herewith, the “Many Liberians” and “Corruption, Inc.”.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.