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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Weah Ally Nominated for Supreme Court Role Has Conflicted History

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President George Weah has made stoppage time substitution accepting the resignation of one Supreme Court judge and naming his ally and Minister of Justice Frank Musa Dean to serve on the High Court bench as Associate Justice.

The move by the President raises concern for good governance as the country transitions to a new administration in 26 days. Weah will step down on Jan. 22 after losing the 2023 presidential vote to veteran opposition leader Joseph Boakai.

The outgoing President effectively undermined his Dec. 18 Executive Order freezing all government appointments and employment related contracts and obligations.

The nomination is subject to confirmation by the Honorable Liberian Senate, a statement from the presidency said Wednesday.

“Once Confirmed, Cllr. Dean will replace His Honor, Cllr. Joseph N. Nagbe who resigned due to medical reasons.”

What Kind of Jurist will he be?

Dean, the current Justice Minister and Attorney General’s decades of law practice and public service rendered him conflicted in most instance. His recusal from court hearing on the baisis of conflict of interest was commonplace during his near six-year role as Weah’s Justice Minister.

In April 2018, the nominee stepped down from his role investigating alleged corrupt practices culminating in the award in 2013 to ExxonMobil of a prized offshore oil block, despite his personal appointment to the task by President George Weah.

.”The decision to recuse myself is based on the fact that I served as President and Chief Executive Officer of NOCAL [the National Oil Company of Liberia] between 2004 and January 2006,” he said.

The controversy stems from a deal in 2013, when the US oil major Exxon Mobil paid $68.5m for a license to exploit a Liberian oilfield called Block 13.

It bought Block 13 from a company called Broadway Consolidated/Peppercoast (BCP), which had initially been awarded the license from NOCAL in 2005.

In a report released on March 29, 2018 Global Witness said it had evidence that in 2005 BCP was part-owned at the time by Liberia’s minister for mining and a deputy minister – a breach of Liberian law.

Corporate documents, it said, show “Exxon knew that Block 13 was originally awarded through bribery and that its purchase of the oil block could enrich former officials who might have been behind BCP.”

Global Witness’ report also said “bonuses” of $35 000 were made to senior Liberian officials after Exxon acquired Block 13.

 

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