Justice Ministry Sets Up ‘Bottlenecks’ for June 7 Protest; Demands Legal Registration from Council of Patriots
The Ministry acknowledged receipt of the April 24 letter from the Advisors of Council of Patriots seeking permit and security to stage a peaceful protest in keeping with Article 17 of the Constitution, but noted that such permit would be granted to a legally registered corporation or association.
In a press conference held on Tuesday at Roots FM in Monrovia, members of the Council of Patriots said, “The purpose of our assembly is not to call for the step down of George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia. The goal is to demand meaningful reforms that will lead to the improvement of the living standards of Liberians.”
The Council of Patriots noted that their decision to protest is fueled by wanton neglect of the government to live up to its social contract towards ordinary citizens.
But the Ministry of Justice in response said, it is “under legal obligation to deal with institution/association registered and existing under the laws of Liberia, by and through their legal offices, as we request that you provide us legal documentation, establishing legal status as ‘Council of Patriots’, either as a duly incorporated or unincorporated association in pursuant to the requirements of the Associations Law of Liberia.”
The Justice Ministry’s letter also further stated that the Associations Law require that every corporation shall have a president, secretary and a treasurer who shall be appointed by the Board or in the manner directed by the articles of incorporation or the bylaws. While the Section 41.2 of the Associations Law further states “Every unincorporated association after its organization shall execute a certificate, signed, sworn to by its president and treasurer stating the names of such incorporated association; date of its organization, number of its members, names and residences of its officers and a description of the purpose its organization.”
The Council of Patriots to the Justice Ministry was signed by Senator Oscar Cooper, Advisor, Senator Sando Johnson, Advisor, Sanjee A. Stepter, Member and Rufus D. Neufville, Member.
However, the Ministry of Justice argued that advisors and members do not qualify as officers for the purpose of representing a corporation and/or an unincorporated association. “Therefore, to ensure compliance, the request should be made through the statutory officers of the ‘Council of Patriots’, after having provided documentation to the MOJ that the said organization is duly constituted and existing under the laws of the Republic of Liberia. Alternatively, you may elect to submit the request in your individual names, as a group of citizens.”