COC Row Rolls: Ellen’s Misstep? -Qualification Crisis Greets Ombudsman

By: Lewis K. Glay  /  0886469835/


  “Massquoi was issuing UP batches and other campaign materials to people when he was Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization during campaign time for the 2011 elections.”

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, presumably wanting a close on the argument on the controversial ‘Code of Conduct’ now being made by the Supreme Court of Liberia as a law binding on Liberians, seems to have slipped in her judgment in naming appropriate team members of the office of the Ombudsman released on Monday, April 3, 2017.

Already, the wave of public criticisms over the appointments of members of the Ombudsman Team has compelled the President to rescind the nomination of Atty. Massa Jallabah due to her age limit which is said to be a qualification deficiency, coupled with her alleged inexperience to occupy such critical position that has very significant bearing on the pending 2017 elections.

It also appears that the wrong judgment of the President points to the appointment of the Chairperson of Ombudsman Team, former LNP Director Chris Clarence Massaquoi, who most recently was admitted into the Liberian Bar Association as Counselor of the Liberian Judicial System.

Critics have claimed that Cllr. Massaquoi is still inexperienced to handle judgments expected to arise from cases coming from complaints the Code of Conduct would prick against would-be violators.

Moreover, it is not only Massaquoi’s  alleged inexperience in the legal profession for such a delicate duty, but he has been branded as being ‘unreliable’ to pass fair judgment due to his link to Ellen Cockrum’s imbroglio  which  brought the Ellen-led administration into public dispute, coupled with his alleged bad ‘administrative practice’ at the Liberia National Police over the years.

In many political gatherings, Massaquoi is still known to be a staunch member of the ruling Unity Party whose Vice President Joseph N. Boakai is a strong contender for the presidency during the pending elections. As one observer noted, “Massquoi was issuing UP batches and other campaign materials to people when he was Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization during campaign time for the 2011 elections.”

Another member of the Ombudsman Team, Atty Edward Dillon, is not off the hook of suspicion as critics focus the make-up of the team by President Sirleaf. Dillon is linked to a close tie with Cllr. Charles Brumskine who is political leader of the Liberty Party, a party President Sirleaf is being alleged of supporting for the 2017 presidency, even though this is yet to be proven.

Atty. Dillon is also seen as having a strong connection with the Liberty Party on grounds that his brother- Darius Dillon is an influential partisan of the LP; however, it is not established  the kind of correlation  to justify such claim.

Accordingly, Section 5.1 of the contentious Code of Conduct termed as an act on political participation dictates that  “all presidential” appointees such as ministers and other public officials, including those in tenure positions desirous of contesting for elected offices must resign two and three years respectively prior to elections.”

As  it stands, three opposition political  parties- Liberty Party, Movement for Economic Empowerment and Alternative National Congress whose contenders are seemed to be in violation of the Code of Conduct are fiercely resisting the legality or lawfulness of COC to bar their would-be candidates  from participating in the pending elections.

However, opinions are divided over the Code of Conduct row, as there are some Liberians who support the enforcement of the law while others have argued that the law only targets certain potential would-be candidates in the elections.

Meantime, the wave of reactions from the public including that from the House of Representatives as quoted in the News Newspaper on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, following the release of the names of members of the Ombudsman office, appears to create deepened concerns as to how and when the legal fray would be laid to rest before the conduct of the pending elections.