Trampling the Constitution

first_imgThe Ebola epidemic is an emergency. I identified it as a threat to international peace and security well before the Security Council declared, and the Government recognised, it as such. Public health and logistics experts and others are addressing it with the fervour, if not the alacrity, required. Once the effort gets into full gear, a reversal of the exponential rate of infection should result. This will portend the ultimate control, and hopefully the elimination, of the disease.While focussing on this problem, urgent attention also needs to be paid to the economic hit that the country faces. A recent World Bank report indicates that the short-term output and fiscal impacts, like the incidence of the disease itself, are expected to be greater for Liberia than for Guinea or Sierra Leone. Accountability and transparency with regard especially to the massive resources being mobilized for the Ebola fight must be prioritised. The Ebola and resulting economic problems, in turn, have political consequences the most obvious of which is the fact that elections are not being held this week in keeping with Articles 45, 46 and 83(a) of the Constitution.Accordingly, one could say that a state of emergency exists. However, ‘state of emergency’, as lawyers like to put it, is a term of art, having specific legal signification. It is very carefully defined in the Constitution and, when declared, may result in emergency powers being used. So, is there a ‘state of emergency’ as spelled out in the Constitution?The Constitution is the fundamental law, our secular bible. Why? Because it is the will of the people in whom, after all, all power is inherent. Such inherence is not by gift of the Constitution, although it is good to see that this immutable law of mankind is recognised in Article 1. Popular sovereignty is fundamental, learned by observing the human condition. Like the law of self-preservation or the law of gravity, it cannot be repealed – certainly not on this planet. Unlike them, the Constitution can be changed, but only by reference to the sovereign people. Indeed, the Constitution does need amendment, perhaps even thorough revision. Until that happens, it must be fully respected, not trampled.Article 86(b) clearly and unequivocally provides that a state of emergency may be declared ONLY in the case of ‘a threat or outbreak of war’ or ‘civil unrest’ that threatens the Republic and represents ‘a clear and present danger’. That is not our situation now. Under our system, the Legislature makes the law, the Executive ensures that it is carried out, and the Supreme Court interprets it – all in conformity with the Constitution. All senior officials take an oath to defend the Constitution and laws of the Republic. (See Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, 1986, Articles 31, 53 and 70.)The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives had the right idea when he suggested that the Supreme Court weigh in on whether Article 86(b) could be used to cover the Ebola crisis. While it would be unusual for the Court to issue an advisory opinion, it would not be a novel event, for the Court has done so at least once, in 1876. (See Opinion of the Court on Interpretation of Section 6, Article II of the Constitution, 1 LLR 509 (1876)). The Court would consider all the facts and circumstances and likely refer to‘minutes of constitution commission’ to determine the intent of the drafters of the Constitution, as it did in a recent case (See Toe v. FrontPage Africa Newspaper, decided 15 July 2013). The drafters obviously had in mind the sad history of emergency powers which were used to victimize some of them.Emergency powers have been the bane of Liberia’s existence since, at least, the beginning of World War II which was used as a convenient pretext in 1939 to pass an Emergency Powers Act. Thereafter, Acts were passed regularly, often suspending the writ of habeas corpus, something that can no longer be done. (See Constitution, 1986, Article 87(b)). Under the 1847 Constitution, the writ could be suspended for not more than 12 months. (See Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, 1847, Article I, Sec. 20th.) On occasion, the suspension was renewed from year to year, in keeping with the letter, though not the spirit, of the constitutional injunction. In 1961 and 1967-68, the Acts were used to suppress labour strikes and the latter Act was a handy tool in the prosecution of Henry B. Fahnbulleh, Sr. for an alleged coup plot. Interestingly, the 1961 Act granted to the President ‘nineteen sweeping powers, including authority to expand the army and police, mobilize and conscript all labor, commandeer private property without going through the courts, order arrest without warrants, and detain citizens for one year without bail.’ (See Carl Patrick Burrowes. Power and Press Freedom in Liberia, 1830-1970: The Impact of Globalization and Civil Society on Media-Government Relations).These sweeping delegations of authority were, in effect, derelictions of duty – manifestations of hubris, avarice and a collective autocratic psyche. They point to a need for the restoration of governmental balance, devolution of central power and repeal of oppressive laws.Are emergency powers required to combat Ebola? No new powers needed to be invoked to disinfect the apartment and vehicle of the health care worker in Houston, Texas who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian. Had she refused, a simple court order would have solved the problem. We have similar remedies already on the books.Another thorny question concerns the senatorial elections which were to have been held this week. In order not to have violated the Constitution, an amendment should have been arranged. This would not be possible under a de jure ‘state of emergency’. In any case, conducting an amendment referendum would have posed the very same problem – exposing participants to Ebola contamination – ostensibly being sought to be avoided by the postponement.Could elections be held in the midst of an Ebola outbreak? Perhaps. Experts may be able to design them in such a way as to minimize the risk of contamination. Was this possibility considered? In any event, it is interesting to note that U.S. presidential elections were held in 1864 during their civil war.The conundrum presented by postponing the elections could have been resolved with prior broad political negotiations at the most senior level and involving all stakeholders, similar to the Accra peace process in 2003 when representative groups came together to forge a peace and make necessary changes to the Constitution – an awkward solution, but one that was required to resolve an even more awkward problem. The beauty of such an arrangement is that it would get as close to popular involvement as possible. This would encourage broad, willing acceptance.It is not too late.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

‘Is There a National Plan for Development?’

first_imgThe Chairman on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Joseph Nagbe, is proposing a national dialogue of planners and legislators to begin to sit together and determine how to develop Liberia.The Sinoe County Senator speaking on the floor of the Senate Chamber recently during that body’s debate over the House of Representatives US$73 Million Bill for concurrence, among other things wondered as to whether the country has a national plan for development. “Since I entered this Government from the 52nd Legislature to the present, I hold a question in my heart, and I am yet to find the answer, and perhaps it is the discussion that we are beginning. The question is, is there a national plan for development? Do we have that plan; if we have that plan where it is?”Senator Nagbe described slain former President William R. Tolbert, Jr., as a leader who had plan for Liberia. He carried the nickname ‘Speedy or Total Involvement for Higher Heights.’ “When he announced the fight against illiteracy, he strengthened all the teachers’ training institutions in this country, that is what we went through and it was free; you went to university and you were trained up to PhD level, came back and taught in Liberia, that was example of a national plan.”Amidst a noisy background from among his colleagues in Chamber, Sen. Nagbe reminded them that what the country was doing now is ‘try-and-error method.’ “We talk about country development and no plan, but still we give counties money, and as a result of that, they are doing little or nothing in our respective counties.”“In my mind, if there is a national plan how to develop this country, then we will be left as Legislators to decide what we do with the budget; but because there is no such plan, our meager financial resources are being fragmented all the time. As a result, the impact of development on our people is limited and woefully inadequate,” Sen. Nagbe asserted.He observed that the Government’s method of spending the national resources on development is causing the problem the country is presently facing. “How do you build a nation,  we have not got the spirit as a government, and I am saying this and I am taking responsibility for it; the way we are spending our financial national resources on development is causing us the problem we have. Here we are in the Senate now talking about US$73 million, some proposing 15 percent of the national budget; to do what with that money?”Now that they (Legislators) are so moved to begin to think the way some of them are beginning to think about the country, Sen. Nagbe maintained that the country needs a national plan; but was quick to warn that in the absence of that, any money that is appropriated, or disbursed to counties will be the same story like the US$200,000 that cannot be accounted for so easily.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

The coalition’s policies are economically oppressive

first_imgDear Editor,The officials of the German penal system have acknowledged that the reason for allowing murderers and other extreme anti-social criminals to live quite normal lives which include access to television, books etc, is that they recognise that man’s behaviour is to a very large extent influenced by his environment. As such, the crimes committed by these offenders were a result of societal conditioning and influence, versus an overt, deliberate attempt by these persons to commit a crime, or do ‘evil’.I could credit them with influencing my own thoughts on this subject, as I have come to the conclusion that man is first an animal. He is then given education and religion and conditioned in order to exist in society. Behaviours expected of him are therefore largely influenced by society’s norms, but sometimes much more so by his immediate environment.A quick check of any economics textbook would show that one of the major responsibilities of governments, even in socialist economies, is to adopt policies which support job creation and liveable incomes. One of the obvious reasons for this is the maintenance of societal stability, or an environment where citizens can adequately provide for themselves and their families without recourse to anti-social behaviours which seek to extract such means of existence.The existing and more sophisticated illegal forms of income generation, along with the recent surge in robberies, therefore require little explanation as successive administrations of the former Government consistently maintained an oppressive income policy, and the current People’s National Congress-led (PNC) coalition, continuing along with this policy, has further established it is not its responsibility to provide jobs for citizens.  As a quick reminder, Granger had advocated that we all become entrepreneurs.Recent attempts to address security are a weak public relations gimmick, as it should be clear that the coalition’s policies have very likely stimulated the upsurge in robberies. African Guyanese youths become the fall guys to a political system intent on victimising them as part of Government’s wider policy of economic control, while Ministers enjoy their salaries and their CoI buddies get bountiful handouts. It would seem obvious to move in the direction of creating more jobs and better incomes for citizens, but one would imagine that a satisfied and education population is immensely more difficult to govern because then incidents of corruption and incompetence would be more easily exposed.As we continue to search for common ground against the clearly anti-welfare policies of the coalition Administration, we could do well to look abroad today. Although there is much about which to fault America’s President Donald Trump, the one thing Americans can salute him for is his America First policy. We could consider the adoption of a Guyana First policy, where our main focus is increasing our national wealth and the incomes of our citizens. Ask the woman selling egg-ball, puri and pickle mango, or the youths selling on the corner what they’re doing, and they’ll tell you: hustling, trying to make a dollar. It’s all about the money. Apparently the coalition hasn’t realised it has a country to run and citizens’ welfare issues to address. Guyanese have to start asking the coalition, “Where’s the money?”  We also have to ask them, “What are you doing for me today?”GAWU has on more than one occasion pointed out that the Administration’s non-payment of sugar workers’ severance benefits is unlawful. Yet the coalition continues to break the law and disregard the sugar workers’ union and the welfare of sugar workers.  It has been suggested that immediately before executing an extremely violent act, individuals briefly descend to a state of lunacy. The decision to withhold sugar workers’ severance is an act of economic oppression bordering on violence. The recent move to seize lands of distressed rice farmers without consultation constitutes an act of economic oppression. The continued denial of Public Sector workers their demands for a living wage constitutes an act of economic oppression.  The coalition is guilty of all of these. We should seriously consider that the policy makers in the PNC-led coalition are mad, just as Lenin was.The Minister of State’s recent observation of the apparent finality of the Exxon agreement should emphasise to everyone this Government is hardly concerned with the welfare of Guyanese, as it wilfully proceeds to forfeit potentially hundreds of millions, even billions of United States dollars in revenues, if lost tax revenues are considered, under the existing contracts. The arrogance of this position demonstrates that the now authoritarian stance of the coalition. The Administration considers itself unaccountable for its actions.This stiffed-neck attitude is not unsurprising, and was one of the reasons the coalition was engineered to include the Alliance For Change.  I have asserted in my book, a preview of which is available on Amazon, that the incessant bumbling of the coalition should be considered a great opportunity.  It took less than three years to dislodge the People’s Progressive Party which had been in power for close to 23 years. It should be much easier to form a new government to get rid what is clearly an incapacitated Administration in its less than three years’ existence. Let us look forward to and create the dawn of a new era.Yours faithfully,Craig Sylvesterlast_img read more

President Granger has exposed the State to incursions from Russians, others

first_imgDear Editor,The allegation by the Russians that the UK and others are building a military base in Essequibo to be used by Venezuelans, underscores the dangers that President Granger and the coalition have exposed Guyana to by refusing to call timely elections.By having a defeated, fallen, or illegal Government managing Guyana’s affairs, the State is made vulnerable and exposed, especially in light of what is happening in Venezuela.The State must be governed by a stable, legal Government that enjoys the confidence of the people. This is precisely why the Constitution dictates that fresh elections are needed “within three months” following the valid passage of a No-Confidence Motion.The PNC and its coalition partners, however, have shown that they are willing to sacrifice the security of the State in the interest of the coalition. The idea of a secured and safe State has evaporated among all the talks of registration.Moscow recognised this. It has seized upon the occasion made possible by President Granger’s exposure of the State, and has committed its first incursion.Indeed, the Russians may have laughed when Government said it abides by the principles of the United Nations Charter. They know that President Granger and coalition members cannot abide by the United Nations Charter when they are busy flouting Guyana’s Constitution.They also know that Government does not have the support of a majority of the people.All that the Russians have to do is to ask Government exactly on whose behalf it is speaking, and Moscow would have further exposed the State and threatened the integrity of the Instruments of Independence acquired in 1966.Sincerely,Rakesh Rampertablast_img read more

Diaspora offered attractive investment packages – President

first_imgPresident David Granger said his Administration would be willing to make available a suitable package forPresident David GrangerGuyanese within the Diaspora, should they indicate an interest in helping to propel the wheels of the country’s economy.He said such pathways will do well for all Guyanese both here and abroad. The Head of State was at the time in conversation with journalists on Thursday, during the taping of his weekly “Public interest “programme.He was giving an overview of his recent visit to New York, where Guyanese there hosted a mini celebration to commemorate Guyana’s 50th independence anniversary.His visit to New York was however, a follow up to a conference held by Business Minster Dominic Gaskins along with Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramajttan and Telecommunication Minister Cathy Hughes, who all shared with the Diaspora business opportunities that are readily available to them and also learning from them what interests they might have, in getting things moving along.According to President Granger, while there have been no formal responses as yet, Government is prepared to offer what is usually requested in this regard.“Usually people look for tax holidays, waivers on equipment and the ability to repatriate their profits”, the Head of State said.“We have offered waivers before to new companies. We want to offer them a level playing field. So at this point in time, I cannot confirm a package. The Minister of Business has been in contact with potential investors, but let’s sees what they are asking for before we make up our minds. Nothing that has been offered to any new company would be denied to Guyanese investors,” the President promised.Granger added that while the potential investors may also want access to land and other resources, they must also be committed to bringing items from the Diaspora, including transportation and capital.The Head of State said he had engaged with New York alone during his trip to the US. The United States and North America he said, probably has more than half of Guyana’s population.“Guyana is a country divided in a whole… It is my view that the Diaspora is probably larger in size, I am quite sure that the amount of Guyanese in the US is large,” he said.With that fact in place, President Granger said the Diaspora will definitely have more capital to invest, as most of them earn more than the average Guyanese. He said they also have expertise, since most of them work in industries and services in the US and elsewhere in North America.“I appealed to them for capital and expertise. I don’t think many of them will come back, what I asked them to consider is the possibility of investment. I told them that other countries and nationalities have been investing in Guyana. So yes, that is my pitch”. He said he is satisfied that there is a high degree of interest amount Guyanese Americans or Canadians to at least send capital to help Guyana.“I see many of them operating tourist industries to bring people to Guyana to see this abundant flora and fauna. It is a magnificent prize that we possess,” he said.Crime and potential investorsAsked about the perceived high crime rate and the effect that could have on potential investors, the President said he does not see the issue as having any impression on those who would want to invest here.“Maybe it’s high for some persons, but it is lower, 16 per cent lower than what it was last year, so there is some spectacular crime, but serious crimes are actually being reduced,” the Head of State said, continuing that several measures have already been taken by his Administration within the last 12 months to reduce the crime rate.“In terms of the deployment of Police, Operation Dragnet, Guyanese are safer now, than they were two years ago. I don’t think that is a serious criticism. We are working on it, I agree more can be done, but we are bringing the crime rate down”.He said he is interested in transparency and in the lawful conduct of transactions, between the Government and the Private Sector and other investors. He said he recently told the Private Sector that they needed to be careful about criticising Government excessively since because corruption come from private businessmen. “We have to bring down criminality among person who is rouged businessmen; we have to stamp it out,” he saidlast_img read more

Yellow fever immunisation required for Asian, African entry into Guyana

first_imgFollowing the recent outbreak of yellow fever in Angola, several countries have imposed the requirements for vaccination against the disease for travel 10 days prior to arrival.Guyana, as a part of the Latin American region with risk of yellow fever is listed as one of the countries whose residents would be required to be immunised and issued with a yellow fever certificate prior to travel.With the presence of the vector that transmits yellow fever and an uncertain “salvatic” environment in the hinterlands, it is advisable that persons travelling from countries listed as endemic for yellow fever (mainly in Africa and Asia) should also be in possession of a valid International Certificate of Vaccination or prophylaxis on arrival in Guyana.The countries listed as endemic are mainly from the African continent and does not include countries in North America, Europe, Central America and the Caribbean.Yellow fever is a viral infection transmitted by a bite from infected mosquitoes, most commonly found in parts of South America and Africa. When transmitted to humans, the yellow fever virus can damage the liver and other internal organs and be potentially fatal.There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, but the symptoms can be treated while your body fights the virus. Headache, high temperature and muscle pain can be treated using pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Infected persons are urged also to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.Other symptoms of yellow fever include jaundice, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.Yellow fever kills 30,000 people globally each year. Yellow fever vaccination is typically administered only in areas where the disease is endemic.For further clarification, persons can contact the Public Health Ministry on telephone number 226-1560 or visit their office located on Brickdam.last_img read more

Teen charged for murder of Unity man

first_imgA 17-year-old on Friday morning made an appearance before the Chief Magistrate at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, charged with killing a Unity, East Coast Demerara (ECD) man.Murder accused Marlon GarrettThe charge was read to Marlon Garrett of Campbell Street, Albouystown, Georgetown, by Magistrate Ann McLennan.It is alleged that on September 11, 2016, at Robb Street, Bourda, he murdered 34-year-old Omesh Chetram, of Unity, ECD.The matter was adjourned for October 18, 2016.According to reports, the deceased had an argument with the defendant at Board Market after the deceased was accused of stealing items from his stall. The defendant whipped out a knife and stabbed the deceased once to the lower region of his abdomen.The defendant then made good his escape. Chetram was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.The defendant was later arrested and charged with the offence.last_img read more

‘State of Emergency Offers No Solutions’

first_imgThe Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) has described as a “misstep and poor political judgment” the Liberian President’s declaration of a national State of Emergency.President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Wednesday declared a “state of emergency” and called for legislative support in accordance with the 1986 Constitution.Addressing a news conference Thursday in Monrovia, IREDD Senior Policy Director Dan T. Saryee, noted that the declaration neither offers any results-oriented solution to the economic reasons cited nor does it provide any direct solution to the eradication of Ebola from “poverty stricken Liberians.”The international research group pointed out that the government’s decision will only exacerbate hardship, escalate vulnerability of the people to hunger and death by curable diseases (malaria, typhoid, diarrhea, etc.) and further deny the country of much needed revenues.  In fact, the consequence that comes with a state of emergency is comparable to shooting oneself in the leg, Saryee said.The research institute believes that the government’s pronouncement is a clear indication that all activities including the operations of concessions, plantations, international NGOs, businesses and market places are hereby “shut down.”IREDD described the President’s decision as a “sad and unprecedented action that demonstrates no iota of good leadership, intended to raise untimely alarm to position Liberia for a handsome share of the funds to fight Ebola in the sub-region.”In finding solution to the spread of Ebola IREDD recommended: “that the National Legislature should deny the approval of the state of emergency required of them by Article 88 of the Liberian Constitution.  Government should urgently take action to prescribe motivational packages such as benefits in insurance, death benefits including education benefits  for children of affected medical practitioners, to ensure they are motivated to make the ultimate sacrifices as required to fight the pandemic.  Government should take concrete actions to re-open all the referral health centers by ensuring that the requisite manpower, technicians, logistics needed to run various testing at these centers are available and accessible.”Relative to the militarization of communities and highways, Saryee asserted that said action was unnecessary, adding; “This only scares away investors.”On the way forward, he said,  government should establish testing centers at every entry point, to ensure that traveler, pedestrians and other commuters are properly screened to prevent the spread of the virus.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

MOE Inducts New National Education Advisory Board

first_imgThe Ministry of Education has inducted into office members of newly formed National Education Advisory Board to stir and carryout major responsibilities of educational matters in the country.Speaking at the induction ceremony of the officers on Friday, April 4, at the Ministry of Education, Education Minister Etmonia D. Tarpeh explained that the members of the board were drawn from several institutions, including County School Board, Monrovia Consolidated School System, National Principal Association, National Teachers Association and Parent Teacher Association.Other institutions include: Association of Liberian Universities, Prominent Liberian Educators, Federation of Labor Union, Civil Service Agency, Chamber of Commerce, Private Schools and West African Examination Council amongst others.She further explained that members of the board were appointed by her, the Minister of Education, with approval of the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, adding that the board members will serve for three years with eligibility of one reappointment.The newly inducted officers of the Advisory Board include: Mr. Charles E. Collins, Chairman, Mrs. Helen Roberts-Evans, vice chairman and Mr. Mohammed A. Nasser, secretary.Minister Tarpeh, however, stated that the objectives of the board must be seen as a way of upholding quality education to its standard with a new face to the rebuilding of the country as well as students across Liberia.As it relates to the objectives, they will: promote national participation in the design, development and support of national education policies and programs; they will assemble public, private and faith-based concerns, interest and aspirations regarding policies, plans and regulations.They will also: ensure that the education policies designed for the country incorporate local and regional inputs for the people of Liberia; they will undertake debates and facilitate dialogues to create consensus on vital issues regarding the direction and dimension of education with emphasis on access, quality, relevance standard at all levels as well as coats and financing.They will: enhance transparency, accountability and democratic tenets in the education sector such as would be transferable to other areas of nation building.According to her, the National Education Advisory Board will act in the manner that focuses on improving students’ achievements and organization effectiveness in all sector of the education of Liberia.The Education Minister also used the occasion to express thanks and gratitude to the board members for their acceptance to serve the Liberian people and promised to coordinate activities of the Ministry with that of the board in order to have a “transformed the education sector.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Thomas Woewiyu ‘Misrepresented’ Past under Oath

first_imgSixty-eight-year old Jucontee Thomas (Tom) Woewiyu, has been arraigned in a United States Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania on charges of fraudulently attempting to obtain citizenship and fraud in Immigration documents.Woewiyu faces a US$4 million fine and 110 years of imprisonment if he is found guilty.Woewiyu also known as “Jucontee Thomas Smith” was arraigned on a 22-court charge of indictment, providing false information on his form number 400 Application for Naturalization and his involvement in the civil war in Liberia.He was also the former spokesperson of the NPFL and Defense Minister in President Charles G. Taylor-led National Patriotic Reconstruction and Assembly Government (NPRAG) in what was then ‘Greater Liberia.’According to the indictment, Tom Woewiyu allegedly provided support to the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) a rebel group that executed civilians, killed peacekeepers of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) as well as forced sexual slavery and raped of girls and women, according to the indictment.He was further accused of conscription of child soldiers and murdered of humanitarian aid workers.The Grand jury in their indictment stated that on January 30, 2009, in the US Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere the defendants Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, in his declaration certificate verification a statement, question 18 on his form was false in that he knew at the time he made the statement, he did not disclose his 1970 New York State conviction for falsification of business record, in violation of title 18 of the US code section 16.21 2.It further alleged that he did not disclose that while he was a member of the NPFL, he persecuted others because of their political opinion and membership particularly,  member of the Krahn and Mandingo tribes in violation of Title 18 of the US Code section 16.21.2.“While he was under oath before a competent tribunal, the defendant falsely stated, while responding to question 11 on the form he did not disclose that he was member of other organizations, including the NPFL that prosecuted political opinions and members in the particular social group,” the document said.It also said, “in response to question 8A and sub B on his form, Defendant Woewiyu knew that he did not disclose his membership and association with all organizations other then the Union of Liberia Association in the US, including but not limited to the NPFL and the NPFL-CRC.”Woewiyu earned a bachelor’s degree in labor studies from Rutgers University in 1981 and is pursuing a Master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University. He has made his living through real estate investment.He first applied for citizenship in 2006, submitting a form that prosecutors now say contained many misrepresentations.Asked whether he had ever advocated the overthrow of another government, Woewiyu said no during his application. He also allegedly failed to mention his association with Taylor when asked whether he had ever engaged in political persecution, according to the indictment.But Raymond Basso, Woewiyu’s Philadelphia-based immigration lawyer, on Tuesday questioned why prosecutors had waited eight years to bring a criminal case against his client.Homeland Security agents interviewed Woewiyu in 2010 for nearly four hours about an unrelated case, the lawyer said. He described that meeting as “cordial.”And though Woewiyu’s citizenship application had been denied in 2009, federal authorities did not indict him until January or arrest him until Monday.Basso said Tuesday that his client took no part in the more brutal aspects of Taylor’s campaign.“Tom had nothing to do with any of that,” Basso said. “Immigration and the U.S. government were fully aware of that.”Woewiyu has maintained legal residency in the United States since 1972, while shuttling back and forth between here and Liberia — at times even serving as its Labor Minister and President Pro Tempore.Woewiyu was returning from a recent trip to Liberia, where he has declared his intention to contest in the up-coming senatorial race for Grand Bassa County, when U.S. Homeland Security agents detained him Monday at Newark Liberty International Airport.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more